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MCS In Practice

OCA Mocha co-founder and intern share their MCS experience

By Shesh Batni

Have you heard of OCA Mocha? It’s a cool coffee shop just down the street co-founded by UMBC students with big ties to the Media and Communication Studies Department.

MCS alum Michael Berardi, ’19 is the co-founder and general manager of OCA Mocha, a project that started in a UMBC classroom. In spring 2017, an entrepreneurship class was tasked with bringing together the UMBC and surrounding communities. What resulted from their semester of hard work was the idea of OCA Mocha, a coffee shop that doubled as a space to bring people together. 

Berardi and co-founder Deep Patel, ’19 (Biology, Financial Economics) have stuck with OCA Mocha from its inception in Spring 2017 to the grand opening in Fall 2019, and have continued growing their business ever since. OCA Mocha recently celebrated their 2nd anniversary this November.

In speaking with Berardi, he confirmed that his background as an MCS major along with his  passion for community building has helped him lay the foundation for OCA Mocha back in its early days. He recalls working on early social media plans for OCA Mocha in Dr. Snyder’s MCS 355: Social Media Networking and Mobility. “A lot of the ideas did actually come out of that class” he said. The work he and his peers did in MCS 355 provided the basis for OCA Mocha’s social media presence which has later been used by social media interns. Berardi was delighted to pull up his old MCS 355 work and reminisce on OCA Mocha’s beginnings. 

Even now, treatment and storyboarding skills he gained from Professor Shewbridge’s MCS 395: Television Production Techniques have helped him explore creative video marketing as an outlet for storytelling.  “I’ve definitely now realized the true power of video marketing. The power of videography and storytelling specifically.” 

Berardi also shouts out Dr. Adelman and her section of MCS 334 for providing him with the opportunity to advance his reading, writing, and analysis skills which he definitely uses at OCA Mocha for both day-to-day and long-term work. “That class to this day sticks with me,” he added. Now as OCA Mocha’s general manager, Berardi is in charge of managing the shop and doing community outreach, a role he’s always been keen on. In addition to that, Berardi works directly on OCA Mocha’s internship program which offers UMBC students positions working on different aspects of the business from social media to content creation to community outreach. Every semester, open positions get sent to MCS students through the email listserv. “I think that MCS students are probably the biggest pool of applicants we get, and in my experience, they've been awesome,” he said.

To apply for OCA Mocha’s internship positions you don’t need to be an expert with a lot of knowledge. “We want it to be a learning experience” what Berardi does look for are students who are organized, communicative, and passionate about what they do.

Manal Warsi, OCA Mocha’s Fall 2021 videography intern, recommends anyone interested apply for future internship positions at OCA Mocha. Warsi has been overjoyed with the opportunity to explore social media content creation, a potential career path she’s passionate about pursuing. As the videography intern, Warsi produces video content for OCA Mocha’s TikTok and Instagram, boosting engagement by keeping up with trends and coming up with creative marketing efforts.

Working at OCA Mocha has also boosted what Warsi has been learning as an MCS major. As a third year student, she’s learned a lot from the core MCS courses about what people want to see. “My classes have helped me generate ideas that helped me be involved in the marketing of OCA Mocha” she said. “I brought my own ideas to the table.” 

Warsi has also learned a lot from working alongside other members of the OCA Mocha intern team. For example, she continually collaborates closely with the social media intern to produce content and schedule it according to their social media content calendar. She also recalls working with the arts coordinator intern on the Mixed Memories exhibition. “This is my first ever internship and I’m glad it was with OCA Mocha. This team is amazing” she said.OCA Mocha offers enriching internships every semester which satisfy the MCS 404 requirement. Look out for open internship listings sent through the MCS email listserv or posted on UMBCworks at the beginning of every semester. You should also swing by OCA Mocha, grab some coffee and grub, and take in the inspirational work that MCS students are capable of.

Posted: December 9, 2021, 4:17 PM