Road-tripping show trucks to University



By Bonnie Stiernberg

It started with four college students and an old RV. What began as a way for Brian McAllister and three friends to explore new career paths quickly evolved into a bona fide student movement.

McAllister, the creator of the PBS Series “Roadtrip Nation,” will be visiting campus Wednesday as part of the show’s fall tour of universities around the country.

“Roadtrip Nation” follows recent college graduates who travel the country interviewing people with interesting careers. The show has featured everyone from the CEO of Starbucks to members of Greenpeace.

According to Michele Plante, FAA career services coordinator, the “Roadtrip Nation” RV will be parked on the west side of the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, 500 S. Goodwin Ave., all day.

“They’re hoping that people drop by and get a chance to talk to them and find out about the movement that ‘Roadtrip Nation’ has fostered,” Plante said.

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At 2 p.m., there will be a film screening in the main lounge of Allen Hall, 1005 W. Gregory Drive. Students will be able to watch clips from the “Roadtrip Nation” documentary and television series, as well as interviews with people featured on the show.

McAllister said he decided to start touring colleges because the show aims to help young adults discover their own paths in life.

“I think it’s your typical college story of ‘What am I doing with my life?'” he said.

The show’s premise resonated with Erin Darby Schoop, senior in FAA.

“I just started watching the show about two weeks ago when I got a message from my advisor about them coming to town,” Schoop said. “So I went to the PBS Web site and watched their online series.”

After taking his first road trip in 2001, McAllister and his friends were compelled to share their experiences and encourage others to hit the road. McAllister said that he felt “it was so much bigger” than himself and his team.

“We didn’t want to be these old men talking about this road trip we took in our twenties,” McAllister said. “We hope students will identify and say, ‘Oh my goodness, I’m so in that same spot.'”

Plante appreciates the show’s unorthodox methods of uncovering career paths for students.

“It’s all about empowering students to explore what all the options are instead of just taking the path they think they have to,” she said.

Schoop said she discovered the show at just the “perfect” time in her life.

“I’m an architecture major and will be graduating in the spring and just didn’t know if I want to go into architecture, go straight to grad school, or go travel.”

The show has found a way to blend new ideas with older, established methods of career-searching. “Roadtrip Nation” is a different way of transitioning from college life into the work world. The idea has generated corporate sponsorship, including State Farm Insurance, McAllister said.

“It’s been an awesome relationship between this maverick idea of finding yourself and the world of academia, of these institutions.”

Plante hopes many University students will stop by Wednesday and learn from McAllister’s example.

“This is so worth doing, that I really hope students turn out,” she said. “I think they’ll really have a good time. It takes this big intimidating question and turns it into something fun. For the people who started this, the journey became their career, so they’re the perfect example of what can happen when you just listen to yourself.”