by Brad Berkner
Are you a designer? Are you a front-end developer or are passionate about project management? These are questions the iMedia students ask of themselves before entering the program. Some students arrive at Elon with clear determination and specific goals while others find their path along the way. Many students find their path through course work and social engagement. As they prepare to graduate next week, I’ve asked our Class of 2012 what they thought entering the program and how it has stayed true to, or altered, their path.
I didn’t know what to expect when I first entered the program. I could barely even describe what interactive media was. However, I suspected I would learn skills like making a website. This program seemed to be skill based which was the reason I decided to take on this challenge. What I’ve learned surpassed my expectations. Coming into the program not knowing anything about interactive media and leaving with an arsenal of skills is very rewarding. Unlike my undergraduate degree, I feel like I can actually get a job based on what I’ve learned. There are students who feel the program did not offer enough in video, social media, or marketing. This program is great for people like me who are eager to learn and take on new challenges.
When I entered the iMedia program, my hope was to increase my skill set and find something I’m passionate about. I also hoped I would be challenged and grow as a person. iMedia has given me the opportunity to do something I love. In this world, you have to work and everyone should enjoy what they do. I’m happy to say I’m one of those people and iMedia taught me how to achieve my goals. I wasn’t 100% sure about a specific career or skill coming into the program but I learned quickly what I was passionate about. iMedia provides great flexibility for students to explore and mold their own futures.
Originally, I wanted to do web development. I wanted to be able to design and build a website from start to finish. In answering whether this has met my goals, I would say yes and no. I learned what I set out to learn (scratched the surface), but I have an appreciation for the strategy and creativity behind the project as well. I’m not sure if I want to be a full-time developer, but I do want to incorporate it into a strategic production career.
Entering the program, I expected to learn a range of skills and an overview of theory and social media best practices. It has definitely aligned with my goals of becoming a project manager for digital projects, as I now have full understanding of the digital media landscape.
by Brad Berkner
I was able to connect with many of the iMedia students who returned from SXSW Interactive and get a peek at their experience. I asked them what their favorite panel was and a few ideas they could share from that experience.
Lou Tufillaro IV
My favorite panel was The Science of Good Design with Ben Mcallister. He talked about how ambiguous hard science can be, and to trust intuition.
1. Agencies are less creative, trusted and mysterious than they were in the Mad Men days. Creativity has been marginalized.
2. “Scientism” is the same as “truthiness,” and is often overused. The impression of scientific data causes the audience to believe that responsibility lies elsewhere. It can help you sell an idea, but it’s a con. Real science is certain, objective and progressive. In the real world, not much is certain or predictable. We still don’t have solid, conclusive info on the cause and end of the great depression.
3. Research should inform our decisions, not make them for us. When it comes down to it, the best things to believe in are creativity, judgment and intuition.
Cat Climaco Dexel
Five women – CEOs or high-ranking members of their respective companies
They discussed the mentor-mentee relationship. How to go about finding a mentor and then how to cultivate a productive and positive relationship that benefits both the mentor and mentee. It was great to learn that so many people had reached out to a mentor for help and that so many people out there are willing to mentor young professionals.
Jessica Torrez Riley
I felt a lot of the panels did not necessarily offer new information as affirmation that what we are learning and thinking about in this program is forward thinking and on the right track to a successful career.
In conversations with people, the most valuable knowledge I had came from our theory courses and an ability to have opinions and insights on the newest trends like SoLoMo.
My favorite panel was called Sports Fan in 2015, it looked into the future of mobile technologies and fan culture but not so far ahead as to be unrealistic. It offered some insight into how fan interaction will become more personalized and the rise of second screen even for Fans in attendance, an interesting topic to debate how this enhancement might devalue the organic nature of watching a game.
My favorite panel had to be HTML5 for film. It gave the chance to see how audio/visual components as well as web design flow together.
I learned that you could always be in the most unassuming of places and find great contacts. This experience has given me a lot of confidence in finding out my strengths and weaknesses in networking.
My favorite panel was a talk with Chad Moreta, author of “App Empire.” He spoke a lot about the relationship between designers and developers, how to cultivate a relationship with both clients and your app team, and how to practically establish yourself as an app creator. He told us about tools like O-Desk, where you can find a developer for your app, and stressed that project managers are especially useful for freeing you up to be creative. He ran through practical tips like when to hire help, how much you should spend per app, and how to recognize a good idea from an unprofitable one.
Salary Tutor: Become a Salary Negotiation Rock Star
This solo presenter summed up what he wrote in his book “Salary Tutor”, preparing to discuss your salary range with potential employers. He talked about research and creating a visual infographic showing your skills against what people in the field make. He explained why you should make more than the baseline salary. He also told us not to be afraid to negotiate and that employers expect some type of negotiation.
There was a great deal of valuable information being shared at SXSW. There seemed to be a consensus among the students that panels were extremely beneficial but interactions taking place in lines, grabbing coffee or even just enjoying sites around Austin, provided an equally amazing experience. The two things that seem to ring true about every SXSW Interactive are the wonderful connections and friends you meet along the way.
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by Brad Berkner – Coordinator of Interactive Media Projects
There is no better way to prepare for a career than working with clients. iMedia provides many opportunities for students to engage with clients.
Many iMedia courses incorporate this work. Students have created interactive content for a variety of clients both for profit and nonprofit. There is no way to accurately replicate this relationship in a typical classroom setting.
The winter term fly-in experience is an excellent example of client interaction. Students face many challenges. The communication and language barriers, working in countries like Panama and Costa Rica, provide opportunities for unique problem solving.
During the spring semester, many students leverage independent studies, COM 568. Special Topics in Interactivity. They create their own course, including a syllabus, focusing on skills related to future career aspirations. This is the perfect opportunity to include industry perspective. Other students take advantage of an internship or apprenticeship with COM 569. Professional Apprenticeship. The apprenticeships include real work in a professional environment. If the opportunity is right, apprenticeships often lead to job opportunities.
The industry is filled with a variety of people and learning how to interact with all these characters is essential. The relationship built between peers will be different than with a boss and certainly different, again, with clients. The client relationship is a balance of healthy respect and direct communication.
Tips for working with clients: