Prairie Portrait: Paul Graff, senior at the University of Nebraska
Name: Paul Graff
Bio: Omaha native learning how to sift through the bits at UNL, also a huge advocate for living a 'treat yo' self' kind of lifestyle.
Title: Dev Intern at VoterTide
Residence: Omaha, Neb.
Intro music: "Welcome To Tally Hall," by Tally Hall
Silicon Prairie News: In the short time that you've been interning at VoterTide, how has your understanding and appreciation of the political landscape changed?
Paul Graff: To be honest, I had always assumed that politics were over my head. The whole thing seemed impossible for me to keep up with. Being at VoterTide has reinforced the fact that I don't need to listen to talk radio all day to know what is happening — keeping up with what Obama and Romney are doing can be done easily through platforms I already use daily, like Twitter. Now I follow all of the presidential candidates on Twitter, and it is slowly creating a clearer picture in my mind of what the landscape looks like.
SPN: You've described yourself a passionate about building stuff people love to use. What are three apps that you can't get enough of using at the moment, and why?
PG: The new Spotify app for Android — They have crafted something here that feels completely native to Android. All the interactions are well thought out, and it’s easy to use, unlike the older version of the app.
Draw Something — I can practically guess what my friends are thinking as they try to decipher my drawings ... which generally is that they have no clue what I have drawn.
Instagram — Now that it has come to Android, I can see why everyone loves it. Instagram is a creative way to share life with friends around you.
SPN: You've blogged in the past about promoting Nebraska and giving your home state the "image that it deserves." What are a few of the best ways you've found to do that?
PG: First and foremost, stories. It's amazing how many wonderful things are happening in Nebraska, and I need to share that with everyone I know. Chris Hughes (Artifact Bag Co.) is a fantastic example. The work he does here in Omaha has gathered all sorts of national attention, and his story is one that is definitely worth sharing. Secondly, I think a sense of pride is important. Visitors should know that we love it here and are here out of choice. The idea that Nebraska is a dead-end should be outrageous to anyone who visits or hears about what is happening here.
SPN: Here's your chance to score brownie points with a professor or two. What one or two classes in your time at UNL have you found most useful in your intern gigs at VoterTide and Hudl?
PG: The professor I had for Computer Science II was awesome. Since he had already been in the industry prior to returning to UNL as a professor, he was a great resource for learning best practices. A lot of the assignments he had us do were extremely relevant. One of the labs involved having us pull data off of Twitter, which was cool.
Also, he pushed us to explore creative solutions to problem. Whether it is diving into new features for testing at Hudl or writing code at Votertide, thinking outside of someone else's expectations can be huge.
SPN: As an advocate of the "treat yo' self" lifestyle, channel your inner-Tom Haverford for a moment. What does your schedule look when you take a day to treat yo' self?
PG: These are the key components of a treat yo' self day:
- Taking a hammock nap while listening to Justin Timberlake's FutureSex/Lovesounds
- Purchasing a chocolate covered banana or super pretzel at Oakview mall
- Buying a tri-blend shirt (of some variety) from American Apparel
- Eating an entire bag of chocolate covered pomegranates
- Indulging in a casual bike ride to Lake Zorinsky, followed by a visit to Juice Stop
- Starting a book at a coffee shop, getting three pages into it and convincing myself I deserve a break
- Walking around Super Target aimlessly for an hour
Credits: Photo by Jordan Block.
Prairie Portraits: To learn more about this series, see our introduction post, or visit our archives for past Prairie Portraits. To suggest an individual for a future Prairie Portrait, contact email@example.com.
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