Sophomore business owner making the most of unique learning experiences
Sean Miller did not come to Millikin University with his sights set on becoming a "tech" guy or owning his own business, but two years into his college experience, the sophomore finance and management information systems double major from Hope, Ind., can boast both.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Miller was unsure what to do with his new schedule after Millikin, like many institutions, sent students home to resume the spring semester online. Noticing that his church needed help with virtual sermons and different video productions, he created seanmillermedia.com.
"It gave me the opportunity to learn about video editing. I had a camera that I had opened for the first time and was like 'let's figure out how to do this,'" Miller said.
The business has blossomed into more than Miller ever thought it would be. Besides his church, he now has real world clients that request his services. Among his clients is Millikin's Tabor School of Business, where he produces videos spotlighting faculty and students.
Miller explained, "It's turned into something that I didn't even imagine when I started it up, but it's taught me a ton. It's really just a hobby that turned into a business."
In addition to running his own business, the sophomore also works as a student specialist in Millikin's Center for Entrepreneurship. Although not an entrepreneurship major, Miller is using the opportunity to its fullest degree.
"I've learned a ton and been able to help a ton of students with the problems they've been having whether that be in the classroom or out in the community," Miller said.
Millikin is preparing Miller for his post-graduation endeavors through in-class experiences and Performance Learning opportunities. Miller describes one of his most notable experiences at Millikin with the student-run venture Millikin University Performance Consulting (MUPC), a technical consulting firm that works with businesses around the community on website development and other technical opportunities.
A recent project he worked on with MUPC involved creating a website and online store for the local business Dupre's Suits, Shoes and Casual Wear. Dupre's was among the many small businesses that faced an unprecedented economic disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic and had to close down their storefront with the lack of foot traffic.
"We rebranded everything as well as created the [website] storefront that now they're going to be able to use around the holiday season and sell to their clients," Miller said. "For MUPC, what we were trying to do is not lose that 'small business' feel on the website. We don't want to display Dupre's as some big store that doesn't have connections to their customers because that's not what Dupre's is about. It's a small business in the Decatur area that really caters to the central Illinois market, and we wanted to ensure that the website reflected that, and really gave their story in the website, not just as a place where people could buy clothing items."
Following graduation, Miller hopes to pursue a career as a financial planner.
"My ultimate goal would really just be to help people with their money whether that be investments or insurance," Miller said.
Despite COVID-19 changing nearly every aspect of the college experience in the last year, Miller is finding ways to take advantage of the opportunities he is given and make the most of the change.
"What I've taken away from this experience is that it's something we're all going to be able to put on our resumes in a couple of years. We all know how to work online meetings now, we all understand that we have to make adjustments and we have to understand that everybody's schedule is completely different. In the working world it's going to be exactly the same."
Millikin University strives to help students grow throughout their four years through unique learning opportunities. Sean Miller is just one example of the jump students can make from first year to senior year. Just after two years, Miller has already had so many career-preparing experiences because of Millikin's dedication to its students as well as his determination to engage in everything the university has to offer.
"I've grown not only in the classroom, but just as a person and as an adult living life," Miller said. "I think at Millikin, they offer a great sense of community and a great sense of growth during your four years here."