That Awkward Conversation: Talking Money.

By Marianne Brigola, Com Career Advisor

I remember when I got my first job offer after graduate school. I was days away from graduation, targeting a specific geographic location and stressed out about graduating without a job. When I got the call with the offer, they essentially said: “We’d like to hire you as a _____ and pay you $_____. What do you think?” I was so thrilled that someone was offering me a job that the first thing out of my mouth was, “Of course I’ll take it!”

Yikes.  Looking back now, I know I should have played it a bit cooler and taken the time to think about the position before accepting the offer. While the job was ideal, and definitely one I knew I wanted–I probably could have done more research to make sure my salary was comparable for the position (spoiler: it was not).

photo credit: Tax Credits via photopin cc

photo credit: Tax Credits via photopin cc


It’s so exciting to get that job offer, but talking salary can be awkward. You don’t want to ask for too much but you want to be compensated fairly. As the I-Media students are wrapping up their program and going on interviews, here are a few things to consider as you evaluate job offers:



Your job offer is a package. In addition to your annual salary, you want to make sure you consider other things that are included in your compensation: health benefits, vacation, flex-time, educational benefits, etc. The number on your paycheck isn’t the only thing you’ll be receiving from your employer.

Do your research. You need to reflect on whether your salary offer is fair taking into consideration the job itself as well as the cost of living for where it’s located. Your money will go much further in some cities rather than others. PayScale, CNN Money and NerdWallet all have cost of living calculators that can help you compare different cities. Some also provide info about housing costs, groceries, etc.

Having a general sense of the typical salary for someone with the same position. This is a bit trickier–some titles in different companies and industries may be the called the same thing but have completely different responsibilities, seniority levels, etc. Glassdoor, PayScale, are all great resources that you can use to start researching salary information. Some collect data from employers, others are anonymously self-reported. Some other resources for salaries within the digital and interactive industries are available here, as an infographic. The Creative Group is a staffing agency specifically for interactive, design and creative talent. They recently posted their 2014 Salary Guide, as well as a salary calculator

Know Your Worth. Be sure you understand what you’re bringing to the table in terms of knowledge and skills, and how you’ll be contributing to the organization. Do you have special experiences or skills beyond what they’re looking for that will be vital to the employer?

Salary is always a tricky topic to bring up during the job search process–but it’s so important to make sure you’re starting off with a fair salary since it serves as the jumping point for any future raises or even your future jobs. Being prepared and doing your homework will help make that conversation easier when you’re having that conversation with your future boss.



Be Connected: Day of Professional Development 2014

By Marianne Brigola, Comm Career Advisor

Kudos to the iMedia ’14 students, iMedia alumni, faculty and employers who joined us last Friday for this year’s Day of Professional Development, iMedia’s annual spring event that connects current iMedia students with employers and alumni.

Shout out to Nikki Schell (iMedia '14) for the fantastic program design!

Shout out to Nikki Schell (iMedia ’14) for the fantastic program design!

Each year the event looks a little different, and each year iMedia students benefit from some great advice from our panel participants and alumni.

This year’s panel included:

Conor Britain, iMedia ’10, Interactive Designer at RED Interactive

Angela Connor, Group Director, Senior Vice-President at Capstrat

Tracy Lathan, Account Strategist at Clairemont Communications

Amanda Sparks, Recruiter at Response Mine Interactive

Panelist gave some great advice on everything from trends in the industry, what interactive media technology their organization uses, and advice on the job search + interviewing process.

Photo by iMedia alum Juanita Wrenn @wrennworks

Panel Photo by iMedia ’13 alum Juanita Wrenn @wrennworks


Also, thanks to all our iMedia alums who came back to Elon to share their advice with students at the networking lunch:

Juanita Wrenn, ’13

Alan Buck ’13

Kelsey Sullivan ’13

Lindsey Huston Cook ’12



At the lunch, current iMedia students were able to mingle with the employers and alumni to ask more questions about the industry and navigating the job search.

This event wouldn’t be possible without the fabulous Maggie Mullikin planning the event–coordinating everything from panelists to alumni guests to catering! Thanks Maggie!

Hello May! (Or Capstone and Graduation Time)

By Jess Chambers, iMedia ’14

Hello May,

I was a little shocked to see your name on my calendar this morning. How are you here already? Where has the time gone? 

But all joking aside, this is it. We’re in the final countdown for iMedia 14. There were times I wasn’t even sure if I’d make it. Late nights and weekends in Powell, perilous hikes in Costa Rica, and a caffeine addiction have all brought me to this moment.

While we are applying for jobs in hopes of employment after graduation, there is still one major item on the agenda: the capstone. For some of us, it is crunch time to get everything completed. For others, it just polishing and adding those finishing touches. It’s strange how what was just an idea on paper a few months ago has become real thing.

My classmates and I are proud of what we’ve accomplished. If you’re free on May 21st, I invite you to join us for our capstone showcase. Come take a look at 38 unique projects that range from video games to interactive magazines. While the event will begin at 6 p.m., feel free to stop by whenever and stay as long as you would like. Graduation is the day after our showcase, so this is the last big event before we say goodbye to the iMedia program.


It is exactly three weeks until graduation, and I’m thankful I had the chance to blog for iMedia program. It has allowed me to take time and reflect on the journey along the way. But now it is May so I publish my last post  and move on to (hopefully) bigger and better things. Nothing left to say but so long and thanks for the fish. And if you want to hire me, that would be cool too.



Where has the time gone?

Eons ago (also known as the beginning of August) when I first met the rest of my iMediates at the student orientation, Professor Copeland had some words that continue to stick prominently in my head: This will be the fastest and slowest ten months of your life.

I remember tilting my head to the side and thinking to myself, “well that doesn’t make much sense. Doubt both of those are true.”

Fast forward to today. If you look at a calendar, you’ll notice that it is just over a month until graduation and I am left to wonder where on Earth all the time went. Copeland was a prophet in a way: these past nine months have indeed been the fastest and slowest that I can ever remember.

The opportunities iMedia has given me are incredible and numerous.

Let’s start with the speakers, where we have been able to listen to everyone from Lee Rainie, the director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life project, to activist and former NFL punter Chris Kluwe (a discussion I was lucky enough to lead).

Chris Kluwe speaking with iMedia

Chris Kluwe speaking with iMedia

The class projects we have worked on have been great. I have been able to create a motion typography for one of my favorite movie speeches: for the American president at the end of Independence Day. I have created websites, both for computers and for mobile devices, for one of my favorite local bars/restaurants. I am currently working with Walkers Shortbread on their social media and SEO and trying to figure out the best ways they can improve those – which is something I’ve grown to love and hope to do on a full-time basis for a career some day soon.

I owe the program for one of the best and life-changing weeks of my life. As a part of iMedia’s Fly-In projects, I was able to spend seven days in Costa Rica, five of which were spent living with the Terraba tribe and learning the ways of their people (as well as being reminded just how fortunate people like me are).

Just enjoying waterfalls in Costa Rica. No big deal.

Just enjoying waterfalls in Costa Rica. No big deal.

Heck, I even owe iMedia for 90 percent of the items on my portfolio (shameless plug of it goes here), from the aforementioned Independence Day motion typography to a white paper on how colleges and universities should be teaching their student-athletes about social media and how to use it. I have also made several new connections in various industries, from public relations to digital content and everything in between.

Do I regret anything about the program? Absolutely not. I have grown both as a student, a new age storyteller and (as cliché as it may sound) as a person.

It really is amazing to think about how much all of us in the iMedia program have changed over the past nine months. Who knows what the next nine have to offer.

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So Much More than Cookies and Camp

by maggie mullikin

I recently visited with Meghan Gargan Bredhal, a 2011 iMedia graduate. Meghan talked about her job and the role the iMedia program has played in her career.

“My current job title is Digital Marketing & Project Director for Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines. We are one of 112 councils that sit under the Girl Scouts USA umbrella. We serve 28,000 girls in central and eastern North Carolina and roughly 10,000 adult volunteers.

“In this role I’m responsible for developing and implementing the organization’s digital marketing strategy in order to achieve key business objectives such as increasing customer acquisition and retention, product revenue, and brand awareness. I lead and oversee the social media marketing program, design and distribute email marketing campaigns, oversee and update the website and blog, as well as lead the Salesforce CRM and marketing automation projects we have going on right now. It’s a big job, but very rewarding.

What is truly unique about the iMedia program is that it gives students a taste of everything, making them well-rounded candidates for the interactive industry. My versatility is something that helped me stand out from the crowd of more than 200 applicants. Additionally, having portfolio pieces to show that I not only talk the talk, but walk the walk, was what helped my current boss decide I was the best candidate for the job.  

“Whether I’m designing a visual piece of content for social media, strategizing on the best time to send an email blast, mapping out the new UX and IA for the Girl Scouts website (coming summer 2014) or developing a consumer promotion to drive customer loyalty and engagement – I rely on my iMedia education every single day.

The best part of Meghan’s job, “Girl Scout Cookies! Just kidding! Although, they are a wonderful perk. The best part of my job is knowing that I’m making a difference in the lives of girls and adults across North Carolina. Non-profits have a reputation for being behind the times when it comes to technology and I’m glad to say that Girl Scouts isn’t one of them. We are constantly innovating and improving the way we do things and finding ways to incorporate technology to make it easier and more convenient for our members.”

Meghan’s advice for potential iMedia students,
“For potential students, I really recommend coming into the program with 1-2 years of work experience or 2-3 really strong internships under your belt. Understanding the demands of the workforce helped me place my iMedia education into context. It helped me define the areas that were most in-demand for my industry as well as develop specific portfolio pieces for the jobs I wanted once I graduated. Finally, having worked for two years before joining the program, I already had a well established network of contacts who were eager to learn about and share my work – thus leading to new contacts and new opportunities.”

Advice for current students,
“Be passionate. Be hungry for knowledge. Be exhausted (you can catch up on sleep in May!). The 10 months will fly by and there will never be another time in your life where you can completely immerse yourself in your digital education. Take advantage of every opportunity, explore any and all paths that interest you, and never stop learning once you graduate.”

SEO, Social Media and Clients… Oh My!

By Jess Chambers, iMedia ’14

Among all the other projects iMedia ’14 is working on this semester, the SEO, Analytics and Social Media class has been given an exciting opportunity to work with real clients. For the past few weeks, my classmates and I have been meeting with different businesses in the area to help them develop plans to increase their SEO and social media.

This is the first semester for this class and was organized by Dr. Amanda Sturgill. “I was really happy to be able to connect some business partners with our iMedia students this semester,” wrote Sturgill. “For businesses with little experience with new media or tiny budgets, our students are able to use what they are learning in iMedia to offer real value in advising on strategies for using interactive media. For the students, the chance to work with messy, real-world issues is invaluable, since they will be doing that for the rest of their careers.”

Our time in the iMedia program is quickly coming to an end. Working with actual clients in class allows me to use the resources and connections within the program while still getting real world experience. Most importantly, it will standout in my portfolio.

My team is working with TyraTech, a biotech company located in Morrisville, N.C., who has developed a product against head lice that will be appearing on Wal-Mart shelves later this month. TyraTech is also launching an insect repellant that will be hitting the marketplace soon. As a marketer (and as a student), this is an exciting time to be involved with this company as they are starting to develop their social media plan and compete against more established brands.

It won’t be long until my classmates and I are entering the workforce. The situations and experiences we face with our clients now are what we will soon be dealing with daily. While the capstone seems to get all the glory, it taking advantage of all the opportunities we get in the iMedia program that really make it an amazing 10 months.

“Our client for this project is Kustom Koozies, a Raleigh-based koozie printing service that specializes in events such as weddings and birthdays. I’ll be working alongside Kara O’Halloran and Arielle Aurrichio to create a social media content plan for them. The three of us are really in an enviable position because the owner of Kustom Koozies, Bob Liddle, is incredibly eager to spread the brand’s message through social media. The main challenge that we’re currently trying to tackle is how to truly capture and communicate the experience of a Kustom Koozie customer in an authentic manner. That being said, the three of us are incredibly excited to begin leveraging the right social networks as well as the right messaging to help spread awareness of Kustom Koozies’ brand.” –Jessica Kingman on working with her client for the SEO, Analytics and Social Media class

Faculty Spotlight: Professor Dianne Finch

The iMedia faculty hold the highest degrees in their fields and have relevant real-world experience. Being a graduate of the program, I wanted to profile the wonderful faculty members who help make the iMedia program so successful.

Professor Dianne Finch is new to Elon this school year, but has already made her mark on the iMedia program, offering a popular spring elective, Data Visualization. Professor Finch holds an M.S. in Journalism from Columbia University. She has professional experience in software, programming and journalism. Before coming to Elon, she was manager for New Media and a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT. We are happy to have Professor Finch sharing her knowledge at Elon!

iMedia Professor Dianne Finch // Elon Interactive MediaHow has your background influenced what you teach in the interactive media program?
My career in the software industry taught me the importance of designing and thinking critically before building. The same principle directly applies to the data visualization class.

In journalism, a good story can’t be written without solid reporting, critical thinking, and the ability to see behind the rhetoric and bias. In data visualization, students mine, clean, filter and analyze data before designing a visual. They should have an idea in mind, but the sketching doesn’t begin until they’ve discovered and vetted the data. The data should have the potential to tell a story – or part of a story. I believe that the same principle applies to many disciplines.

Is there a college class or experience that has most influenced your teaching philosophy?
There were many college classes that influenced my teaching philosophy. At Columbia University, my adviser and “reporting 101” professor pushed me to identify the best possible sources for stories. If a student handed in a story with sources that weren’t solid or authoritative when necessary, the story was rejected on the spot.  It was challenging, but it was an important lesson and so essential to good journalism.  In data visualization, the same principle applies – but the sources are the data.

What is your favorite thing about teaching iMedia students?
iMedia students are enthusiastic, creative and seem to be attracted to challenging endeavors. They bring a range of skills to my class. Some have worked in professional jobs, and others are recent graduates. Many are already adept in video production, motion graphics, Adobe design tools and coding with HTML and JavaScript. It’s apparent that they are taking advantage of everything that iMedia has to offer. I look forward to seeing their final projects and I’m confident that they will incorporate those other skills into their visualization projects.

Can you share a bit about the new course, Data Visualization?
The course covers the fundamentals of data visualization with an initial focus on data mining, cleaning, filtering and merging. We talk about using color, shapes, position, size and other visualization characteristics to apply to data types – such as categories, dates and quantitative numbers. As for tools, we start with Google Fusion and then move to the Google API, Tableau Public and finally the D3 JavaScript Library. We build interactive maps, timelines and other types of charts. When students walk away, the hope is that they will know which tools best suit their individual needs and abilities. Some require coding skills – while others don’t.

How will the skills you are teaching translate to the future?
Corporations, news organizations and even politicians are embracing data visualization to communicate important trends and stories that might otherwise be buried in spreadsheets and unavailable to the average person. Small businesses offering data visualization services are popping up around the globe – creating a new sector in the software or communications industry. Elon and other universities are establishing courses, and I’ve heard about K12 schools that are teaching children how to display data in the US and the UK. The big data and open data movements obviously contribute to the demand for skills in this area. As those movements gain momentum, data visualization should continue to evolve and adjust.

What would your students be surprised to learn about you?
I lived in Japan and traveled throughout Asia. I love the outdoors and lived in Alaska as a child. My husband, Brian, is from England. Thanks to Brian’s son, we have three adorable grandchildren. I’ve travelled to many countries, and must see many more.

I know you just moved to North Carolina, what is your favorite thing about living here so far?
The weather. Watching flowers break ground so early in spring. Again, the weather.

Thanks to Professor Finch for sharing more about herself. I hope spring weather is here to stay soon!