By Ryan Clark
Xavier Marketing and Communications
Jack Carey is late for work. Really late.
He’s running up the stairs, backpack on, out of breath. He’s got stories to write, probably coffee to pour. It’s the life of an intern—but it’s going to lead to so much more. At least, he hopes it will, if he doesn’t get in trouble for being late.
They’re going to kill me, he thinks. He opens the door and pushes his way through. Not looking, he runs face-first into someone very tall.
“I’m so sorry,” Jack says. He adjusts his glasses and looks up.
It’s Conan O’Brien. THE Conan O’Brien. Host of the popular late-night talk show for more than 20 years and his boss for the summer. Jack’s just run right smack dab into Conan O’Brien.
Jack is a summer intern in Hollywood, working for Conan, honing his craft writing monologue ideas and making contacts. He’s using the skills that he’s been developing as a Communication Studies student at Xavier to someday become a professional writer for a Late Night show.
“Don’t worry about it,” Conan says, and walks in the opposite direction. For a moment, the world seems to have stopped. Okay, Jack thinks, as his heart returns to normal.
He walks back to his desk, frazzled but ready to write. No one seems to notice. He’s not in trouble.
Little did he know, he would never speak to Conan again. Ah, the life of an intern.
A man of the people
Jack Carey is right on time.
He walks in, composed, backpack on, and sits in the booth of a local diner. The 21-year-old Chicago native has begun his last semester at Xavier, and he will graduate in the spring, but there are so many things going on before that can occur: Projects, class, work.
“It’s a busy time,” Jack says, smiling. “I’m just trying to enjoy all of it. It’s a lot of fun, and a lot of work right now. Xavier has provided the right kind of environment for me. There’s no stifling of my creativity. I can be who I am and develop my skills.”
If he looks familiar, it’s no coincidence. Jack is an entertainer, first and foremost. You may have seen him in a Xavier commercial or when he gives campus tours as part of the admissions team or if he served you a $1 hot dog off his front porch on Cleneay Avenue.
He is, as he says, “a man of the people.”
It’s been that way since he was little, growing up with his family in Chicago. He’d take the family’s digital camera, the one with the 10-second video setting, and shoot movies 10 seconds at a time. Then he’d string those clips together on the computer to make longer digital films.
When Jack was a teenager, he visited Xavier while on a family trip.
“I knew it right at that moment,” Jack says. “Xavier was the place for me. I just knew that’s where I wanted to go.”
He was entertained in Thomas Wagner’s communications class (“the most unique teaching style I’ve ever encountered,” he says) and challenged in Randy Patnode’s class (“he’s the one who really made me think about media and how it is controlled and shared,” he says).
His life changed when he made the decision to come to Xavier, he says. It became the place that offered him opportunity from Day One.
A celebrity from Day One
The day Jack moved onto campus, he was approached by Xavier’s marketing staff.
“We wanted to follow a student around as part of a video story, showing someone’s life throughout their four years at Xavier,” says Cliff Jenkins, video manager in Xavier’s Office of Marketing and Communications. “We thought Jack might be a good student to follow.”
“It made me kind of an instant celebrity,” Jack says, laughing. “Everyone wanted to know why I had a video camera following me around.”
But other than filming, Jack found a mentor in Jenkins, as well as in video and web producer Debora Del Valle. And he found a job working with the Marketing and Communications office.
“I just told Cliff and Deb how I wanted to make movies,” Jack says. “And it was the start of a great friendship.”
It was also those friendships that would start a little phenomenon called #XUGameDay.
This is #XUGameDay
Students, staff and faculty now know that when Xavier hosts a men’s basketball game, they can go to the Internet around noon to find the latest installment of XUGameDay, a series of ESPN-like commercials promoting Xavier fandom.
“I was called into a meeting with the marketing staff,” Jack says. “We were looking for something new, something with video—quick and funny, utilizing basketball players. They wanted ideas, and I thought back to ESPN’s series of SportsCenter commercials, and I thought we could do this in our own way.”
He thought back to that internship with Conan and used his humorous writing talent to sketch out several ideas for 15-second commercials, which wasn’t too different from when he was creating those 10-second movies as a kid long ago.
“We loved them,” Jenkins said. “They were perfect.”
“I just never knew if anyone would watch,” Jack says.
It has become one of the most-watched things on Xavier’s YouTube channel, featuring shooting Blobs, professors-as-announcers, staffers with blue-painted faces and burritos delivered via T-shirt air guns. FOX 19 even picked them up and broadcast them.
“Now I have people coming up to me, wondering when the next one is coming out or wanting to be in the video,” Jack says. “People have really responded.”
Hot off the grill
People have also responded to Xavier Hot Dogs.
Jack lives with a few buddies in the light blue house with the red door on Cleneay Avenue. And when the four realized there weren’t too many places around for late-night snacks, they decided to make a change. “It was an untapped market,” he says.
In the fall of 2015 they started Xavier Hot Dogs, serving hot dogs right off their front porch. “For all of the people coming back from parties, we’re there,” says Jack, who—no surprise—serves as lead griller, interacting with the customers as they wait for their hot dogs.
“I do love talking with everyone,” he says. “And now, we’ve done so well with this little business, we started catering events, and we’re even selling the business to some other students when we graduate. Xavier Hot Dogs will live on!”
It’s just another of the legacies Jack will leave behind.
Always the entertainer
As he sits in the diner, reflecting on his college career—his internship with Conan, his admissions and classwork, XUGameDay and Xavier Hot Dogs—Jack comes to a realization about what Xavier has meant to him.
“I am different—I’ve always been the entertainer,” he says. “I never really thought of it before. I should’ve realized it that first day, when Cliff started following me around with the camera. I liked it—and I like that about myself. I like that there is something unique about me. Xavier helped me realize that and utilize it.”
Through his studies, internships, mentors and friends, he was able to cultivate his talents, and after graduation, he’ll try to land a dream job as a production assistant for a late night show.
“For me, Xavier helped me find my niche,” he says. “It was a challenging and open environment, and it was the best for me.”