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EdgeTheory Expands Internship Program at UM

November 7, 2022EdgeTheory

Innovating firm offers Ole Miss students hands-on training in narrative analytics

This article was originally published on olemiss.edu.

An internship program with tech firm EdgeTheory will provide students with hands-on experience in narrative analytics. Understanding how narratives emerge and evolve is critical for businesses and government, and interns will develop skills to take advantage of the opportunities. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – Online conversations have great power. They can influence our economy, politics, science and culture. They can even win or lose wars.

An internship program at the University of Mississippi will teach students how to identify, understand and leverage these narratives. EdgeTheory, a Ridgeland-based narrative intelligence company, has set up shop at UM’s Insight Park to offer the program to students in all majors.

“We’re committed to providing our students with extraordinary experiences and opportunities that build upon their foundation of learning,” Chancellor Glenn Boyce said. “The expansion of Edge Theory’s internship program is a tremendous example of that commitment.

“We’re grateful for EdgeTheory’s dedication as a business leader to growing opportunities in fast‐changing fields such as artificial intelligence, which is expected to be transformational in industry, education and research.”

EdgeTheory uses artificial intelligence-powered technology to help its customers analyze how conversations on websites, social media, blogs and other online channels become narratives, how those narratives evolve, and how they create both challenges and opportunities. Their clients range from large corporations such as the Mayo Clinic to government agencies.

“Narratives can be a company’s greatest asset or greatest liability,” said Joe Stradinger, CEO of EdgeTheory, “Understanding how to own these conversations and strategically connect them to a brand is so important.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to give Ole Miss students hands-on experience with our systems and research methods and help them connect all that they learn to their field of study.”

The company first offered internships last year to students in the UM Center for Intelligence and Security Studies and is expanding the program.

EdgeTheory CEO Joe Stradinger said there is ‘no better place’ than the university for an internship program based around narratives. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Josh Gladden, vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs, is impressed with the scope of the program.

“The interesting thing about the work that they are doing in narrative intelligence and analytics is that it’s not just the computer science students they are interested in,” he said. “They are interested in history, political science, journalism, psychology, linguistics and literature – people that understand how narratives are built and what causes them to resonate.”

Stradinger said their top priority is to increase the students’ value to prospective employers.

“These students will be a lot more valuable to an employer if they understand how narratives work,” he said. “We want our interns to be more attractive to the marketplace.

“They are going to get real-world experience, and we plan to help them build a strong portfolio that they can include on their resume.”

Stradinger had a somewhat unusual journey to his work in narrative analytics. He began his career as a CPA, then worked for Arthur Andersen Business Consulting. In 1998, he co-founded Musicforce.com in Dallas, one of the first online music retailers.

Greg Griffith (right), EdgeTheory co-founder and CPO, leads the company’s internship program, where students learn about its systems and research methods. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

He later founded Exposition Ventures, which provided a broad range of business development and social media consulting to clients such as Viking Range Corp. and Match.com. With the help of philanthropist Jim Barksdale, Stradinger founded EdgeTheory in 2013.

Stradinger, who has two children attending Ole Miss, said that the university was the obvious choice for EdgeTheory’s internship program.

“I built my company on the art of conversations,” he said. “Mississippi is the home of narratives and storytelling; that is our gift. There is no better place in my mind to have a robust internship program.”

The partnership with EdgeTheory could facilitate additional opportunities for both the university and the business, Gladden said.

“EdgeTheory runs their AI algorithms on a variety of topics,” he said. “We have many faculty members on campus who are interested in those topics as well. I can see this resulting in strong research collaborations in the future.”

Stradinger also sees possibilities on the horizon.

“My vision is that if you want to understand narrative analytics, then you go to Ole Miss,” he said. “Because it’s going to be applied across every discipline in this wonderful liberal arts university.”

To learn more about the EdgeTheory internship program at UM, visit https://edgetheory.com/internships.

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