By Nicole Cortese
Too often college students graduate with degrees in hand, ready to take on the world and go searching for a job in their field only to find it is not what they expected. They slave away at tedious, soul-crushing office jobs that require no passion and work under the constantly flickering fluorescent lighting. This idea is the haunting nightmare, and sometimes reality, for many recent college graduates.
After realizing they were only at their nine to five jobs for the money, Chip Hiden and Alexis Irvin took a huge risk and quit their budding careers to embark on a life-changing, cross-country experience.
“I majored in history in college and the only option people ever seemed to give me as a history major was to be a teacher,” Hiden said. “I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with my degree, but I didn’t want to be a teacher, at least not right out of college.”
The pair filmed The Dream Share Project, a documentary that recounts their cross-country journey to discover their passions and help make their dreams and the dreams of others with similar struggles come true. However, they came to realize that traveling around the country was not enough; they needed to actually do something. They began recording their interviews with people who were fortunate enough to follow their ambitions and turn their dreams into a reality.
“After collecting many interviews from people, it was amazing to see how their stories started to parallel with our own experiences,” Hiden said.
According to Hiden, they conducted and filmed more than 30 interviews with entrepreneurs, artists, non-profit founders, athletes and many others, giving them a large scope.
Lauren Nicolosi, a career adviser who brought the film to Rider, thinks that students can really relate to the message The Dream Share Project is trying to get across.
“I chose to bring The Dream Share Project to Rider because I found it refreshing, motivating and inspiring,” Nicolosi said. “I watched the film and really thought our students would love it and benefit from seeing it.”
In Kentucky, Hiden and Irvin stumbled upon the Latino comedian Alex Reymundo who told them how once he decided to commit to comedy, the universe conspired in his favor. The more they pledged themselves to this project, the easier they found it to relate to Reymundo’s experience.
“It’s as if the universe was telling us we were doing the right thing,” Hiden said.
Hiden and Irvin have been touring colleges and showing The Dream Share Project to students, especially upperclassmen.
“College students can better relate to the experiences and perspectives,” Hiden said. “We’re hoping to inspire people to think about possible careers in a different way.”
They both firmly believe that showing a 60-minute film does not have a big enough impact on viewers. Following the film, they conduct a 30-minute workshop that takes the themes and applies it to the students.
“One of our strategies is to have students write their own obituaries posing the question ‘How do you want to be remembered?’” Hiden said.
Nicolosi encourages Rider students to think about their passions and incorporate those subjects into their work.
“Students at Rider are doing great things — whether it’s internships, community service, employment, involvement in campus and community organizations and clubs, studying abroad, research or usually a combination of these things,” Nicolosi said. “Meeting with a career adviser can help students to market their experiences to employers and to graduate and professional schools.”
Hiden and Irvin’s ultimate goal is to be able to get their message out to graduates who have been out of school for one or two years and have been able to experience the real world firsthand.
“There are two parts to this process,” Hiden said. “The first goal is to empower people to figure out what their dream is. The second part is helping people overcome obstacles of chasing their dreams and doing something about it.”
The film premiered at the Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival in Delaware and runs from Wednesday, Nov. 7 to Sunday, Nov. 11. The pair was also approached about writing a self-help career guide for millenials due out next August.
Nicolosi hopes the event will motivate students to strive for more than just a typical office job.
“I hope students walk away from the film and workshop with a true sense of all the possibilities — including those beyond the typically imagined office and cubicle walls,” Nicolosi said.