“I miss Wawa and Philly cheesesteaks, but other than that, Boston has a lot to offer.” says Mike Petroff.
Where are you from? What brought you to Boston?
I’m originally from southern New Jersey, and went to college close to home at Rowan University. It was pretty rural, so after college, I wanted to explore life in a big city. I ultimately chose to attend graduate school at Emerson College in 2005, and have loved it here ever since. I miss Wawa and Philly cheesesteaks, but other than that, Boston has a lot to offer.
How did you become a Digital Content Strategist at Harvard? What’s your favorite part of the job?
For as far back as I can remember, I’ve always been interested in computers. I remember my dad bringing home a 386 and begging him to add another 4mb of RAM so I could play more graphics-heavy games. When we got Prodigy, and then AOL, I was hooked on discovering and creating things on the Internet.
In high school and college, I spent my free time cobbling together websites for personal projects, bands I was in, or movies I produced or edited.
While at Emerson, I thought more about how and why social networks were so addictive, and the types content that spread through these networks. My graduate thesis was a web application that allowed Twitter users to find their first tweet, then compare that tweet with other users. It also displayed a user’s ‘Twitter twin’, which was another user that shared the same first tweet date.
My graduate school work, along with my full-time job at Emerson College as the Web and Technology Manager for the Enrollment Office, allowed me to network with some great folks working on digital projects in the Boston area. I saw a job open up at Harvard in the Digital Strategy Office, and I was lucky enough to join a wonderful team here.
It’s hard to single out one favorite thing about my job. I feel like there is always something new going on — some new challenge or project to take on. Actually, that may be my favorite part about the job. Whether it is launching a new social experiment like Harvard’s Giphy channel, or working on a large-scale web redesign, or collaborating with writers and photographers on the launch of our new Harvard Art Museums, there’s always something new.
What’s your proudest accomplishment?
My proudest accomplishment is raising my amazing daughter, Emma, with my wife. She just turned one this summer. It’s incredible and life-changing. Nothing prepares you for being a parent, and what you learn along the way impacts your perspective in so many ways.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I love playing drums in my band Eleventh Hour Sunrise and rock climbing at local gyms when I have the time.
What’s your favorite thing to do in the city?
I love to go to restaurants and try new dishes and drinks. My wife and I got engaged shortly after going to our favorite restaurant in Waltham, Il Capriccio, and we were married at another amazing restaurant, L’Andana, in Burlington. We like great food, and I like a good glass of bourbon, too.