Category Archives: iMedia Alumni
When hosting events, planners like to have takeaways; cups, lanyards, brochures, thumb drives, etc. It seems everyone is always trying to come up with ideas for a fun and creative new takeaway – how will people remember our event? What is something tangible to pass on to others so there is interest and buzz?
The iMedia class of 2013 recently hosted its fourth annual, Day of Professional Development, Digital Identities here at Elon University. Professionals from Capstrat, Response Mine Interactive, Tanger Outlets, and McKinney spent the day with our students advising, networking, discussing job opportunities, and the future of careers in a digital world. The day began with a panel discussion, followed by a networking lunch. For the first time, we took advantage of the newly renovated Student Professional Development Center and we hosted a lovely lunch outside on the piazza. After lunch, students met individually with the professional of their choice to either participate in a mock interview or receive feedback on portfolios and résumés.
It was a great day of energy, ideas, friendship, good food, and looking ahead to the bright future all our, soon to graduate, iMedia students have ahead of them.
The takeaway from this event was some good advice.
Don’t over promise and under deliver - relax - make each interview count - be prepared - and ask good questions. The takeaway here was intangible, unpredictable, and at the same time full of potential in a field that is growing and continuing to hire Elon iMedia graduates.
Converge was so much fun!
I, along with eight other students — Dioni Wise, Audra Macri, Will Neff, Cory Watson, Marshall Beringer, Rachel Brent, Benjamin Robinson and Katie Nolan — were selected by our professors in the fall to attend ConvergeSE, a web development conference in Columbia, SC, this past weekend.
Along with Brad Berkner, we mingled with designers, front-end developers and coders. Unlike most other conferences, the speakers here generally gave an overview of their career and their work. But it didn’t seem completely self-serving — the vibe was more inspirational, pushing us to learn and take chances.
Converge SE had panels on development, design, front end, mobile and business, and we all scattered among those. One drawback was that neither the brochure nor the website had descriptions for any of the panels, so everything was a crapshoot. I lucked out on a “TBD” design talk by Mig Reyes, a designer at 37Signals who reiterated that design was a process and that we shouldn’t be afraid of the ugly — ugly is what gets us to the good stuff — but some of us ended up stuck in panels that weren’t as riveting, reiterating old concepts or just plain not being useful.
But in the end that didn’t matter. Most of us agreed that even if we didn’t learn a lot, we certainly had fun. The highlight was definitely “Tall Tales From a Large Man,” a traveling talk by Aaron Draplin, who’s done design work for the Obama administration and for Field Notes, among many others. His story illustrated exactly what hard work and luck and risk take you — around the country, doing great, interesting, fulfilling work and doing it your way.
There was another Obama employee — Josh Higgins, who was the reelection campaign’s design director. He underscored a lot of the principles we learned in iMedia — not just usability and design, but research, understanding your publics, and test test test. There’s a reason why Obama’s campaign was seen as the cutting edge: it used data to inform every decision, and everything was tested. Even just kerning the letters in the “Forward” logo took two days to do.
Both Higgins and Draplin were big names with an impressive body of work, but none of us knew that until they spoke. Just seeing their work and hearing their experience was something in itself — an opportunity, exposure to something we didn’t realize was out there. This reinforces another strength of the iMedia program, the opportunities we get to mingle with others across all different facets of interactive media and learn about things we never would have encountered on our own.
The conference was so much fun that I began to think about attending next year, even hitting up other conferences — an idea shared by some of my fellow iMedia attendees. This is the first year that iMedia students attended, and it’s definitely something that future students, if they get the opportunity, should do.
by maggie mullikin
Last month I attended a conference in NYC to promote our iMedia program and, while in the city, I met with Ashley Dischinger, a 2011 graduate who now calls Manhattan home. We talked about so many wonderful things – the city, her apartment, the neighborhoods she has discovered, and then the all important reason she went to NY to begin with – her new career. Ashley answered my questions and then some….
“I work for VINDICO, an online video advertising-serving platform. Our company serves, tracks, and measures online video ad activity for many prominent campaigns, as well as provides in-depth reporting and analytics to our clients. My role as Graphic Designer allows me to work closely with agencies to repurpose campaigns into an interactive format. (Some examples) I design a lot of the formats from scratch, using mostly Photoshop and Illustrator.
Because I prep the static designs for our developers to build, I also have to envision how the user will ultimately be able to interact with the ad and then design based around that criteria.“
Ashley gives the interactive media program credit for helping her launch her career.
“I absolutely know that my graduate degree was the main reason that I’ve ended up in this position. Had I not had relatively strong training in Photoshop and design skills, as well as an overall understanding of how users interact with digital media, I wouldn’t last more than a minute in this position… or even, this industry! iMedia was a wonderful stepping stone to prepare me for a career in the digital creative world.
“I received my undergraduate degree in Journalism, with a minor in International Studies, at Elon. As an undergrad, I had been on track toward a career as a reporter in online journalism. I even interned at CBS Radio and spent my last year at Elon dreaming of becoming a Web Producer at the station after graduation. Still, something was pulling me towards iMedia. Of course as an undergrad in the School of Comm, I had heard plenty of good things about the program, and my curiosity got the best of me (and good thing it did!) I had always felt a passion for my undergrad classes that involved design and introduced me to the basics of Flash and the rest of the Adobe programs. I can’t explain it, but I just had a feeling that iMedia was the right choice because it could be my way to delve more into the digital media that fascinated me so much.
“In retrospect, I have a deep appreciation for the way the program was designed to balance production and theory classes. Obviously, a thorough knowledge of how to produce media in any of these programs is a crucial part of my day-to-day. However, the understanding of how users consume and interact with media is invaluable. I apply that understanding to every format I am designing. What will users what to click on? How can I include the product information in a way that won’t overwhelm the user? What kind of animation can I apply without having the format turn “too busy?” These are all questions I can typically answer, based on the general theories we discussed in the program. Sure, I hated all the readings for theory classes at the time… but now I’m aware of how they apply in the reality of the industry!
And to those considering an iMedia degree?
“I have a lot of people approach me about potentially applying for iMedia, and they always ask me if I think it’s worth it. My answer every time is ABSOLUTELY. Don’t think of iMedia as strictly a communications’ degree. The great thing about the program is, it allows you to take whatever your passions are, and mold the program to fit your needs. If you want to be a reporter, as I did, the program can guide you in the direction of interactive storytelling, for instance. The other great aspect of iMedia is you really never know where you might end up! If you keep an open mind during the first semester, your strengths and weaknesses will become clear to you… more importantly, what you are the most passionate about will shine through (sometimes without even realizing it!) I never in a million years thought I would end up as a graphic designer, but it became crystal clear after being on the design team for our winter term class that designing layouts in Photoshop is what makes me happiest. I guess what I’m getting at is that iMedia will expose you to a wide range of skill sets and knowledge, and it allows you to nail down what you love to do and run with it.”