MacGyvering Uncharted

By Alan Murray, Uncharted Staff

Sometimes I feel like MacGyver. In fact, working on Uncharted often reminds me of the 1980s television series featuring Richard Dean Anderson as Mac, the secret agent who uses commonplace items to maneuver through challenging situations – anything from disarming a missile with a paperclip, to using a coffin as a Jet Ski, to restraining one of the bad guys by stapling his coat to the ground.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been on the road frequently, giving presentations and recruiting for Uncharted’s team. As we’re an all-volunteer force with minimal resources, I often find myself telling potential candidates we put Uncharted together with a Swiss Army Knife, duct tape, and some kite string.

Case in point: we had a presentation at Brigham Young University-Idaho last month, our first of many, discussing geo-social media, a concept unique to Uncharted. As often happens, time was limited and we found ourselves piecing together the presentation at the last minute.

Consequently, I left for Idaho without presentation slides or even a rehearsal. I made it to campus about an hour before my appointment, found an internet signal, and downloaded the presentation sent by the team only a few moments earlier. I then spent the remaining time on the phone with our communications director, reviewing slides and memorizing.

Somehow, the presentation went well and I was able to meet with many qualified candidates. When you take into account that each member of our team has a full-time job and that Uncharted is all team-funded, it’s quite incredible to see the high quality we manage to generate, and it’s even more thrilling to see it grow. That’s not to say we don’t have shortcomings. The site is far from what we envision, but we do the very best, given the circumstances, to continue improving Uncharted, thereby giving our audience the best experience possible.

This is all doable because of an incredible group of individuals who make up our team. While they come from various backgrounds, including journalists and civil engineers, programmers and members of the armed services, as well as teachers and accountants, they all have a couple of things in common, certain qualities we search for as we interview potential candidates.

The first is ingenuity. Each member of our team possesses the unique ability to transform the group’s collective time, expertise, and resources into low-cost, effective solutions. They do this with little funding and time.

The second is cross-training. Each member comes with a variety of skills or, at the very least, the desire to learn things not necessarily related to their main area of expertise. For instance, it’s not uncommon for a member of our communications/marketing team to take on the task of writing a story or taking photos for our editorial department. And it’s not out of the ordinary to see a staff writer shooting photos or a copy editor brainstorming public relations issues.

While meeting with candidates at BYU-Idaho, we were most impressed with how professors in the communications department both encourage and provide opportunities for their students to learn a variety of skills, anything from sales to video, to writing and photography, to marketing and more. That said, it probably won’t surprise you we’ve already added some soon-to-be graduates from BYU-Idaho to our team. And even though our recruiting efforts span the globe, I’m sure they won’t be the last.

As Uncharted continues to expand, we realize it is our team and our wonderful audience who deserve the real credit for its success. No doubt we’ll continue keeping things together with duct tape and kite string for a bit longer, but when you look at the incredible people who contribute to Uncharted, there is little doubt it’s course is firmly set towards success.

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