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The Launch of SPS Next

A few words with Boris Koehoorn, student intern for the Office of Student Life, and the creator of SPS Next, a live platform for student speakers to take the stage to share their stories and insights. The inaugural event takes place on Thursday, April 7. Boris is from Amsterdam, Netherlands, and is currently in the full-time M.S. in Strategic Communication program at the Columbia University School of Professional Studies (SPS).

  • How did you come up with the idea of SPS Next?

I was tasked to come up with an event for Graduate Appreciation Week. Of course, all of the events we have are already celebrating graduates since SPS only offers graduate programs. There are career fairs, networking opportunities, and guest lectures to advance our careers, but rarely do we hear directly from our fellow students. This is what I thought was missing; an event celebrating the talent of our very own graduates. SPS Next will fill that gap by providing a stage for them to share their experiences and for the rest of the Columbia SPS community to listen, learn, and absorb it all. 

  • How has it been planning this event? 

This is my very first event for SPS and I have had the pleasure and permission to go big and build a platform for our community. My first ideas emerged in February, so creating this event in a relatively short period of time required attainable goals. Laura Graffitti, the assistant director of Student Life, is the link between the University and the vision Without her help, SPS Next would not be possible.

  • Walk us through the concept.

SPS Next is about our very own students. We all are (aspiring) professionals and have so many experiences to share with each other. Our programs can be quite siloed so this event can help to bridge the gaps between the programs. Who is to say that a Construction Management student does not have important insights to share with an Applied Analytics student? SPS Next will hopefully break through the boundaries of the programs and enable our students to learn from each other outside the classroom. 

Four students from different programs will speak for ten minutes each. In the recruiting phase, we asked each student to submit a video pitch, a written outline, and some information about who they are and their career aspirations. Because this is an event for all SPS students, we wanted to have the broadest representation of SPS possible on the selection committee. We asked two program advisors to represent the staff; a faculty member; and a representative from the SPSSG Executive Board to review the students’ submissions. The selection committee was very impressed with all of the submissions so all of the candidates were incredibly close. 

 Esteemed faculty with experience in public speaking will serve as coaches for the student speakers selected. The coaches will help the speakers with anything they need to elevate their talks. . Of course, the speakers are amazing as they are, but we wanted to provide them with resources and support if they had questions about the process. 

  • What do you hope this event will bring to the students participating and the audience?

I hope that our speakers and our applicants had fun developing their ideas. They now have the platform they deserve to speak about the things they truly care about. It is also an opportunity to finetune their skills in public speaking and as thought leaders. For the audience, it is a moment to listen. I hope their minds are enlightened by their peers and fellow students. 

  • What can we look forward to on April 7?

You can expect a night of inspiring speeches and networking with fellow SPS students, staff, and faculty while enjoying some small bites and drinks. The speakers are amazing. They have incredible stories and they have worked incredibly hard over the past few weeks to prepare for this moment. I can’t wait to hear the final talks. 

SPS Next takes place on April 7, 2022 at 5 p.m. ET. Be sure to reserve your spot here