Photo courtesy of Landon Campbell
In the past few months, many young professionals have been dealt a bad hand by way of the coronavirus. Job and internship opportunities have been delayed as the economy continues to recover from the crisis. In what is already an odd time in life, people in their 20s have less and less to look to for inspiration.
DePaul alumni Landon Campbell and Michael Holmes saw an opportunity to provide some insight into the tumultuous professional journey people take in their 20s. They created a podcast called InTheir20s where Campbell and Holmes interview successful professionals from various fields to ask them what they were doing at that age.
Some of the guests they have already interviewed include CEOs of tech and food companies, authors, and academics.
Mike Haracz, the former head chef at McDonald’s was featured in a recent episode, as well as the Senior Director of Global Industry Marketing at Microsoft Kati Quigley. They have a great list of guests lined up for future episodes as well with 2020 presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke and author Kevin Coval among others.
“Before getting anybody on board, this really took Micheal and I having to understand what we wanted the purpose of InTheir20s in our mission,” Campbell said. “And we got very, very specific with that. The different mediums we want to work with social platforms, the types of guests that we want to have.”
Reaching out and landing these guests is a challenge in itself. They started by exploring their own networks. Campbell and Holmes both had many internships through college, with Campbell having ten different ones himself. This grew their respective networks, which Campell stresses the importance of.
The most striking thing about the interviews is the length. With so many podcasts sucking up a large allotment of time, with conversations that go on and on for over an hour, Campbell and Holmes knew they wanted to break away from that.
“We wanted to do a short format,” Holmes said. “We discussed a lot about the format in which we should release the videos. We originally started with really short clips, like three or four minutes. It kind of made it so not everyone received the whole picture. So that’s when we moved into more of releasing the whole interview but still keeping the interview within 15 to maybe 25 minutes max.”
That 15 to 25-minute window is the sweet spot for their channel in its early stages, especially for a target audience that tends to have a shorter attention span. This level of audience focus is part of what makes InTheir20s an engaging and compelling podcast.
Both Campbell and Holmes graduated from DePaul in June. Campbell arrived from Oakland, California to attend The Theatre School as a freshman, before switching to business in what he described jokingly as a “quarter-life crisis.”
Holmes graduated with a degree in finance with a minor in accounting, now working at Mazars USA as a valuation associate. He started his own business in high school that took excess food from restaurants and composted it to sell to landscaping companies.
Both of them thank their respective backgrounds that led them to their newest project. “I think as humans we are natural storytellers,” Campbell said. “Companies want to know what the hell you’ve done and what you can bring [to] the company before they hire you. And that’s what Michael and I have really enjoyed: creating stories.”
They both found many connections to people in college through internships and networking. Holmes served as the finance chair of Phi Kappa Psi and was able to use the greek life experience as a tool for his career.
“I would say it benefited me a lot, in my ability to meet with a group of guys and kind of get to know everybody,” Holmes said. “That’s kind of how it is in the real world too, you need to get to know everybody and learn about their past because you can learn a lot from somebody’s past. So that’s kind of the whole idea of InTheir20s.”
The lineup of guests on InTheir20s is diverse in many ways. There are guests from all over the country and from all walks of life. The guests also cover a laundry list of industries from finance tech, food, travel, the arts, politics and more. All with the aim oft trying to find out what they did in their 20s to get where they are now.
“[Diversity] is very important to us,” Campbell said. “Look at this country, we live in a melting pot. So it’s very important that we are sharing a diverse group of leaders, influential people who have different backgrounds, are doing different things now, different companies, different roles, different industries. It’s really important that we share that because we understand we have a very diverse audience.”
When a podcast or blog first starts out, the audience is hard to nail down. As InTheir20s has started to grow, Holmes and Campbell have noticed a lot of appreciation from viewers. “Something that Michael and I are really trying to do here is being able to scale mentorship and provide influential advice for people who a lot of times don’t even have access to that,” Campbell said.
For a time, it was hard to determine whether their platform was reaching people effectively. “Some of our viewers have actually reached out to us and said, like, ‘I really connected with this interview,’” Holmes said. “And we even had one person say after watching our interview with Michelle Hollis, and how she started out as a bartender and decided to pack up and move to California. That after losing his job during the pandemic, he said ‘you know, maybe this is my time, maybe I get up and I move where I really want to.’”
“So it’s amazing to see these people talk to us and say ‘this really helped me’ and that’s our ultimate goal.”
InTheir20s can be found at InTheir20s.com and on YouTube, Spotify and Instagram.