Nate Emerson: Cognitopia Intern Extraordinaire

Nate’s Emerson’s interest in voice acting, theater, and comedy began when he was in high school. Using a WordPress blog to capture his strengths, interests, goals, and preferences, Nate was one of the first individuals to transition his electronic portfolio into the MyLife application.

While going to high school, Nate had an educational eligibility for autism spectrum disorder and subsequently graduated with a modified diploma, which qualified him for the 4J Connections program, established for students 18-21 years old.

Nate is currently pursuing an associate degree in Multi Media from Lane Community College. Accepting the position of Cognitopia Intern in April 2017, Nate’s initial job duties began with software testing and usability, finding “bugs” in our applications and giving us feedback on what does or does not feel intuitive about the user interface.

Working approximately ten hours per week while pursuing his degree, we decided to capitalize on Nate’s vocational training and involve him in projects that piqued his professional and personal interest in videography, editing, and other multimedia pursuits.

To begin, we involved Nate in the creation of seventeen short videos on parenting techniques for families impacted by traumatic brain injury. Filmed in Eugene in collaboration with The Center on Traumatic Brain Injury Research & Training (CBIRT) and produced by AO Films, Nate helped review scripts, actor selection, props and on location set design.

AO Films welcomed us into their local studios to see the pre- and post-production footage and gave us an overview of the editing process. Nate asked relevant questions about filters, editing software, and incorporating client edits.

video editing software screen
Most recently, Nate was tasked with creating a video for our YouTube channel that features Kyle, a recent graduate of the 4J Connections program, using the Cognitopia platform to run his final IEP meeting.

A daunting assignment for even the more experienced employee, Nate culled through hours of raw footage and extracted the most usable and relevant segments that showcased Kyle using his MyLife ePortfolio to self-direct the IEP meeting and self-advocate in front of his teachers, parents, and support personnel.

Kyle’s IEP video project required Nate to incorporate supplemental audio and photos, storyboard, add transition slides and closed captioning, and process through written and verbal editorial feedback.


We then asked Nate to document the video creation experience in his own words as a “Career” entry in his MyLife account. His interpretation of the project is witty and perceptive and reflects both Nate’s positive attitude and strong work ethic.

Edited IEP Video

“Finally the moment of truth arrived and everyone had gathered at my desk to view my creation with their own eyes. In dead silence I watched as the progress bar made it to the end of the video and I awaited judgement by my peers. Fortunately I was not fired as the consensus was that the final product was good.”

You can read the full entry here:

At the end of the day, our goal for Nate is to build his resume and showcase his employability to a potential creative design firm or production company. Developing the habit of building his MyLife portfolio and being able to easily share samples of his work with potential employers is something we think will benefit him in the long run.

In the meantime, he’s our intern extraordinaire.

About Julie Henning

Julie Henning has been with Cognitopia since 2015. In that time, she has been involved in customer support, training, marketing, documentation, social media, and data collection. Some of her favorite projects have been mentoring our videographer intern, Nate, and weekly classroom testing and curriculum development for the many students in the 4J Connections Transition program. She works closely with Eugene-based SLLEA (Smart Living, Learning & Earning with Autism) to integrate Cognitopia’s self-management tools into the organization and structure design input and support platform implementation. Professionally, Julie has over twenty years’ experience working in engineering, technology, software development, and journalism; a path made possible with two degrees in Technical Communication: a BS from the Milwaukee School of Engineering and a MS from Colorado State University. A single mom of three high schoolers (grades 9, 10, and 11), Julie has introduced Cognitopia to terms such as “sick” and “yeet,” while overseeing the office coffee consumption. In her free time, she enjoys playing recreational soccer, improv comedy, and traveling.

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