SXSW 2017 Experience

Michael Cody and Annabel, Texas State University SXSW team members, with Rachel and I, SXTXState team members, at the National Geographic Further Camp Base event.

Finally, the week after SXSW has come where we conclude our thoughts about our experience at the conference and being part of the SXTXState team overall. After a few months working on the SXTXState project, I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Being a part of the SXTXState team has been overwhelming, yet the most rewarding experience I’ve ever had throughout my entire college career. Being a part of a small team, with great mentors and many responsibilities really helped me grow as a professional and as an individual.

Rachel and I after the Technology and Pets event.

Before getting into the graduate program at Texas State University, I was always outgoing in my personal life, but very intimidated by school overall. I was never confident about my talents and about the things I could do if I pushed myself, but the SXTXState project ultimately took me out of my comfort zone and helped to prove to myself that I am capable of anything.

I had always known what SXSW was since moving to San Marcos back in 2013, but never really thought about it as a conference where I could network with professionals and learn about new innovative technologies and perspectives. I had initially thought of SXSW as a music festival, where bands and artists come to play live to an audience for a ridiculous amount of money. Obviously, my view on SXSW had changed completely since attending this year.

SXTXState team at our Taco Party!

If you haven’t been keeping up with our project, ultimately we are a student multi-media reporting group that gives SXSW goers, or anyone interested in SXSW in general, the exclusive insight on what you can expect from the conference through our preview interviews, TBT interviews and overall coverage when we attended. As someone who was completely uncomfortable to reaching out to strangers, I have grown so much since January. Cindy Royal, our mentor and SXTXState team leader, has been known for this project and the success it has brought to many of her previous students, which is why I made my decision to apply for this project to begin with! Throughout this project, we were able to get in touch with previous students who were a part of this project and have been successful in their careers because of it, and after attending I can now see why they’ve had so much success. Along with interviewing previous students, we had to interview SXSW panelists before and during the conference. I was extremely anxious when I found out I actually had to talk to strangers, especially strangers who are so intelligent. I regularly thought to myself that I was not worthy of their time and that I was too shy to reach out to anyone I didn’t know. This is what I mean about this project literally pushing you out of your comfort zone. Fortunately for me, I was not alone and as a team we grew together.

Many, many selfies were taken at SXSW!

The SXTXState project consists of being thrown out into the real world for a week, where you get to connect with incredible professionals, which is an experience you can never get in a regular college course. The best thing about SXSW is that there is something for EVERYONE to love. I, on one hand, tend to lean towards the beauty and fashion industry, but I still love to be engaged with technology and luckily for me, there was an event for something of my taste. For the rest of the SXTXState team, they enjoy VR/AR, mental health, women’s rights, sports and music, and SXSW had plenty of events and panels to offer for their liking as well.

While attending events, you are able to network with people who have similar interests as you which could ultimately land you a lifetime connection. The amount of business cards thrown to me throughout my five days at SXSW was crazy. By the second day at SXSW, my confidence was up the roof and I was engaging in conversation and interviewing people like crazy because of how excited I was to be there. The atmosphere at a conference like SXSW is so amazing that you don’t even feel like you are surrounded by professionals.

I met Cole Spouse and KJ Apa after having some lunch between panels.

Overall, my experience at SXSW was memorable and life-changing. In my opinion, no other college course could offer what the SXTXState project can do for a student. The best thing about this project, is that you are able to incorporate things you already love in your personal life and use it as a skill. For example, as someone who enjoys being attached to my phone, and documenting my day on social media, being responsible for the social platforms for SXTXState throughout my time at SXSW was the best fit for me. I was able to do what I love, be myself all while creating great content for our social presence. Because of SXTXState, I have developed skills in creating stories out of an experience, producing video content and taking photos for a multimedia article all while meeting deadlines. Before this project, I could not spark a conversation with someone new to save a life, and now I find myself engaging in more conversations than I’d like to admit. Thank you to Cindy and SXTXState for this incredible experience that I will remember forever.