Every once and a while, Andrew McGee likes to jot down some thoughts in a journal.
So it was in February 2020, when the 2019 Saint John’s University graduate sat down and recorded a few thoughts.
“I wrote down this idea I had for a podcast,” McGee said. “I wrote this down, and I was like, this is a great idea. Maybe someday I’ll come back to it. I didn’t think much about it.”
Fast forward to 2021, and guess what? McGee is now an active podcaster.
McGee is the founder and host of “So, What’s Next?”, a podcast done monthly. He’s created eight podcasts to date, with topics ranging from “Navigating the World of Politics and Business” to how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected individuals and communities.
The next episode – released on Wednesday, Sept. 22 – features a conversation with Matt Lindstrom, professor of political science at the College of Saint Benedict and SJU and director of the Eugene J. McCarthy Center for Public Policy and Civic Engagement, on how climate change has affected policies, businesses and individuals, and how individuals, businesses and policies impact the future of climate change.
The podcast seeks to “create moments of meaningful connection between young graduates, the world around us and our alma maters … by discussing timely topics and providing insight into some of our biggest questions. The podcast focuses on helping our community navigate the future as we know it by delving into the stories of professionals who have succeeded in their endeavors,” according to a written statement on the podcast site.
“Really, this has been a fun little ride that ended up becoming more ingrained in my life, and something that has the potential to really be a benefit to the community at Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s, more than I certainly had ever anticipated,” said McGee, who was a global business leadership major at SJU.
“Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s have certainly made a big difference in my life. It’s fun after graduating to still be doing things that are making at least a small difference in some way or another in the community, even though I’m not in Collegeville anymore,” said McGee, who is heading up market development and strategic partnerships in Minnesota for HTEC, an international company to create disruptive digital products across industries.
But despite that journal entry, the podcast almost didn’t come about.
McGee was having coffee with a friend and mentor of his, trying to figure out what his next step was after leaving his first professional position providing marketing and strategy for the 2019 Manova Summit (because of COVID-19, the summit for 2020 was canceled).
“She was like, ‘You should write an article about this, or write a blog post about this or do a podcast about this.’ When she said podcast, my head immediately went back to the journal post I had written, and I went home and I took a picture of it, and I sent her what I had wrote in my journal. It was almost line-for-line, exactly what her and I had talked about that day,” McGee said.
“OK, I have to do this just because this is too weird not to at least give it some thought. After that, I started building out this working model for the podcast. I wrote down just a short executive summary and business description and some objectives and resources needed and things like that,” McGee said.
In the meantime, he saw that the pandemic was the one thing affecting everyone.
“It’s particularly affecting people on the fringes, and in this case it’s people that are younger and people that are older,” McGee said. “I was a living experience of that, and I knew a lot of friends that were having the same experience as I was and asking these same questions.
“Really, the question boils down to this one line, and that’s, ‘OK so I really just need to figure out what’s next?’ That’s kind of where the title of the podcast ‘So, What’s Next?’ came from,” McGee said.
McGee is a current member of the Young Alum Committee (YAC) at CSB and SJU and sought input and buy-in from that group. He also ran the idea past the Institutional Advancement offices at both CSB and SJU.
“The people on the YAC, the Institutional Advancement offices and the Alum Relations offices at CSB and SJU have been quite helpful in shaping the direction of this idea and helping it grow,” McGee said.
While each podcast guest isn’t necessarily a young graduate, “the topics are certainly meant to focus toward younger alums,” McGee said. “At the same time, I want to see them broad enough where those that don’t necessarily fit into the mold of the target demographic from the podcast still might gain something from it.”
Each podcast is roughly 30 minutes to an hour long. McGee does the recording of his guest via Zoom, then ships the recording to Johnnie-Bennie Media for post-production work and a bit of editing.
“I wouldn’t consider it (editing) a lot in context of what some podcasts end up doing for their editing and post-production, but there was enough where I wasn’t comfortable in doing it myself,” McGee said. “It’s actually been really fun having the students in Johnnie-Bennie Media helping out.”
The reaction from his guests have been favorable, McGee said – including one he didn’t have to go far to find.
His Aug. 13 podcast featured his dad, Jon McGee, the head of school at Saint John’s Preparatory School and former vice president of Institutional Research at CSB and SJU. The elder McGee discussed if the cost of a college degree is still worth it and how the value of higher education has changed in recent years.
“You know, I saved that one for a really long time,” Andrew McGee said. “I said to him early on, ‘Look I’ll get to you. We’re going to do this when it makes sense in accordance with the rest of this.’
“It was a really big honor and privilege to actually talk with him. I hold my Dad in really high regard, and like a lot of these people I end up interviewing. I can’t think of people in our community that I know that are better at talking about the subject for each episode than the ones I interview,” he added.
“ ‘So What’s Next?’ has proven a terrific way to tell stories, not only about people but also about the impact of CSB/SJU on careers and lives,” said Jon McGee. “Though Andrew has aimed it at young alums, I think it has a broad appeal. He has interviewed interesting people with interesting stories and drawn out of each of them important life lessons.
“As listeners, we get to meet each guest in a really personal way – and in a way that reminds all of us of the extraordinary value of our Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s experiences,” Jon McGee added.
Andrew McGee said he’d like to keep doing the podcasts if time allows.
“I’d certainly like to do it for the remainder of my time of the Young Alum Committee (he’s on a two-year term), but I’d like to set up the actual framework for the podcast as something that is a very living thing, something that the reins can be handed over quite easily,” he said.
“We’ve worked on creating this framework that is as simple as it can be, so that when it’s time, if there’s a time that it needs to be handed off and there’s other people down the line that want to continue doing that work, it can be handed over quite easily.”
Editor’s note: Andrew McGee encourages engagement, feedback and suggestions following each episode of his podcast by emailing [email protected], or DMing the YAC Instagram page.