The Final Stretch of Fall

It’s Thanksgiving Break, which is supposed to be a break…right? A week full of relaxation, and time spend with family and friends…as some would like to think. As interactive media graduate students, that is not always the case. This break brings a sense of mixed feelings. Part of me cannot believe that it is already the end of November, and at the same time I glance down at my planner and think about how many assignments are due in the few short weeks before the semester ends – time is flying by and, at the same time, is creeping by slowly. In this time of thanks, there is so much that I am thankful for, especially when it comes to Elon’s iMedia Program

I am thankful for coffee. 

Starting off wi5742bf6909516d1017d8513faaf755a5th a lighter note, any graduate student that you talk to, would probably say that without coffee there is no way that could survive. Whenever I began the iMedia program, I was not a coffee drinker – it did not appeal to me in any way. Over the past few months, caffeine has become a necessity to get through the day.  I never thought I would look forward to drinking a drink as much as I look forward to drinking that cup of delicious coffee – that boost of caffeine always hits the spot!

I am thankful for incredible, extracurricular activities that Elon and iMedia provide us with.

In what started as a class assignment on creating an unique idea to pitch to our peers, turned into a pitch we submitted to Elon’s Innovation Challenge. At the end of October, Bridget Sheffler, Carmen Erdie and I, submitted our proposal for our innovative mobile app, Chronic Control. It is an unique app that is targeted for veterans suffering from chronic pain, and assist them in visually showing doctors where there pain is located. In early November, we were selected as a finalist to pitch our proposal to a panel of entrepreneurs during Elon’s Annual Innovation Challenge. In an outcome we did not expect, we placed 3rd out of all of the finalists!

I am thankful for our fly-in trip, and the opportunity to work with nonprofits abroad.

Since the beginning of the year, we have heard about the fly-in and what all this trip entails. Then, it seemed as if it was so far away. Now, we have a little over a month until we leave! Over the past few weeks, we have been drafted to specific trips, assigned our jobs and have began getting ready for an opportunity of a lifetime. Work for the fly-in is in full-swing, team meetings and client meetings are being held regularly, and drafts of deliverables are beginning to be created!

I am thankful for opportunities to expand our skill set. 

Part of the fly-in experience is being able to use the latest technology for a real-world client, while creating deliverables for each client. Training sessions are being held to teach each of us how to use all of the awesome gadgets that Elon University has provided for us while we are abroad. One example would be drones. Drones are awesome and can shoot some of the coolest videos, but I had never had the opportunity to use one until I became apart of the iMedia program. I am looking forward to putting my skills into use while I am in the DR!

14732392_1193088010757415_3395815037061201379_nI am thankful for spring semester and the classes we can take.

Life after graduation, is not the thoughts that many of us want in our heads yet. But, we recently had to register for spring semester classes. With that, comes thinking about what will life be like after graduation. What do we want to do? What direction do we want to take? Our spring semester is geared around the future – every class, every project, everything. What we choose should be based on what we are looking to do for our capstone and will assist us in gearing up for that next step after we turn the tassel. Getting to choose classes that match your interest make classes fun, right? I sure think so!

Surprisingly, I am thankful for research and for being pushed outside of my comfort zone.

Many of us have applied for and have been accepted to present our proposed research paper at the 12th Annual Global Communication Association Conference, in April of 2017 in Greensboro – the first time this global conference has ever been held in the United States! What does that mean? Over the next few weeks, we will be completing the research we proposed to submit our final research paper that we will be presenting at the conference!

I am thankful for iMedia, and #iMedia17.

Whenever I started the iMedia program, I could have never imagined how this program would transform me – personally and professionally. Through this program I have been challenged mentally, in ways I have never been challenged before. I have also been given opportunities that otherwise I would never have had. The friendships I have made, I never expected. From the first day of our summer seminar, friendships were already being created that will last long after graduation. Coming into this program, I thought that we would be too busy to even think about friends and little did I know that the friendships I would make would be ones that could last a lifetime.

As far away as graduation seems, we all know that it is just around the corner. Realizing how little time we have left together as graduate students, and how much we have to learn – grabbing the bull by the horns and continuing to dive in is the only choice we have, if we want to get the most out of this program and from each other!

#iMedia17, look at how far we have come and what all we have accomplished! I cannot wait to see what all we accomplish in the coming months!

A Measure of iMedia Alumni Success

Deciding whether or not to go to graduate school can be a daunting task.

Your finances, the need to relocate, discipline and academic stamina are important factors that you may be wrestling with. Just as critical is considering the post-graduate career prospects for the program you’re considering.

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Interactive Media graduate Erin Turner ’15 G’16 works as assistant social media editor at Essence Magazine. 

Lucky for you, if you’re looking to earn a M.A. in Interactive Media from Elon, you’ll have a chance to join an impressive list of alumni with exciting careers in both the public and private sectors, throughout the country and abroad.

Since the iMedia program launched in 2009, there have been 257 graduates. Of those graduates, 97 percent are currently employed for such companies as Amazon Web Services, Razorfish, ESPN, Essence Magazine, Automattic, NASCAR, CBS Interactive, Dribble, the Smithsonian, Microsoft, IBM, and the Dallas Morning News – just to name a few.

Among dozens of job titles, iMedia alumni serve as web developers, UX designers, digital strategists, multimedia producers, social media managers and many other highly-skilled roles. Furthermore, these careers most often boast competitive salaries and advancement opportunities.

But these are just a few details about the success of iMedia graduates.

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Employed at Automattic, Interactive Media graduate David Kennedy G’10 develops WordPress themes under the title “theminator.”

If you’ve been thinking about applying to Elon’s Interactive Media program, but can’t make it to a campus visit, join us for our first virtual information session at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 30, via WebEx.

Click here to register for the event.

We’ll be sharing details about this innovative and accelerated, 10-month master’s degree program, including courses, admissions requirements, alumni success and more. We’ll also introduce you one of our professors, who will offer insight into students’ hands-on experiences in classes, work with real-world clients and the program’s state-of-the-art facilities.

For those who attend this virtual information session, we’ll waive the $50 application fee when you apply.

For more information about the iMedia program or admissions questions, please call me, Tarah Holland, at 336-278-7683 or email tholland@elon.edu.

A Personal Profession

I have lived in three different states in the last six months.  Although the process of packing and moving halfway across the country was daunting, I am so thankful that I’m here today.

3w9a9787Last year, I was teaching horseback riding lessons, writing papers, and organizing philanthropy events. I felt that I had a realm of expertise in each of those spaces.  Although the familiar is what I used to enjoy, stepping outside of that comfort zone has caused me to grow as an individual.  The program was intimidating; I was told that I would eat, sleep, and drink iMedia.  The 10-month immersion promised a whole new journey away from my space of comfort, a journey into new and exciting (sometimes scary) experiences.  The intensity of iMedia certainly lives up to its reputation, but I have also discovered a crucial hidden bonus that was neither disclosed nor advertised.  This bonus is not learned in the classroom, and it isn’t something that we can necessarily place on our resumes; this bonus is camaraderie.

Camaraderie didn’t start immediately. We were a medley of personalities and strengths awkwardly plopped into Powell room 210, but we slowly became united throughout our journey in the program.  Camaraderie began in an edible form, specifically, in the form of coffee and breakfast—the perfect duo.  Slowly but surely, we acquired three different coffeepots in the lounge, assorted K-cups, and a steady rotation of muffins, cookies, and doughnuts.  These little pick-me-ups were weekly highlights amid the stress of Dr. Lackaff’s class, and each peace offering provided subtle appreciation for our fellow classmates and our mutual struggles.  In addition to caffeine and sweets, we started a GroupMe to keep in contact with one another and clarify assignments.  Soon, though, we began to utilize one another for more than just academic sanity—we became a family.

GroupMe quickly merged into a platform for non-school related activities in our limited spare time.  The first movement was a “Game Night,” hosted by Darrien, and since, it has become somewhat of a tradition.  Each Friday, a classmate hosts Game Night as a detox from the week, and we play Trivia, Uno, and Battle of the Sexes.  14855925_10211408030585920_5000333281743206314_oRecently, these Fridays have turned into potlucks, too (we’re clearly food-driven people).
Last week, Ashley arranged a festive party where we gathered to watch skits, sing karaoke, and paint pumpkins.  On Halloween, many of us coordinated wearing onesies for the day.  We have begun to rely on one another not just for the answers inside the classroom, but for the relaxation outside of the classroom.

Our camaraderie will grow even further throughout the year, and eventually, we might be relying on one another for more than just another cup of coffee or another round of Uno.  Instead, we might be relying on one another for a recommendation at the company of our dreams.  My 25 classmates have individual and admirable skills, and I’m proud to call them not just classmates, but also friends and future professionals.  Back in August, I took each of my classmates for granted.  I figured that I would develop some friendships, but I never really thought about the depth and importance of these connections.  I never considered the future implications, and I never considered the impact that each individual would have on my experience in the program as well as my career after the program comes to a close.  Networking and moving toward the next step might seem intimidating at first, but it’s just another journey, and this time I have 25 people to help guide me along the way.

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We all need a little help sometimes…

Last week, it felt like we all breathed for the first time in months. Our big research paper was over. It was terrifying, it was hard, but I don’t think a single person in the class walked away thinking that it was a waste of time. We all walked away with such a broader knowledge base and I was extremely happy for it.

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But, the hole that was made by a lack of Lackaff was quickly filled with a new, accelerated schedule and an addition of projects from other classes. While at first was overwhelming, it makes sense. I am ready to dive further into the concepts that we have been learning and really start creating. I hope that most of us feel that way. I might be in the minority, but I want them to throw everything they can at us. I want to be the most prepared for any situation once I am in the job market. I promise I have a point, my ramble is over.l46cbqvg6gxgvh2ps

One big area that ramped up is our coding classes. Now, I know next to the research paper, this is the area that most people have the biggest fears. I will be the first to say that I need help, I want to do it all myself, but I don’t need to. I also recognize that I shouldn’t do it all myself. An outside prospective can usually make my work better.

It can be hard to ask for help though. No one wants to feel like they don’t have the intelligence to do something, and no one wants to admit that they might have a shortcoming. It’s okay. We all do. It’s okay to ask for help. 14jqc2aonxnbhq

I love coding though, and I have found so many great tools to help me understand it the best. So far, in this program, I have shouted my joy for may of them: Codecademy, freecodecamp, HTML & CSS by Duckett, and Javascript & JQuery by Duckett. There are so many more though.

I wanted to give everyone a list of some other great resources that I have found or been told about.

  • Bento – This site aims to make you a self-taught programmer and covers HTML, CSS, Javascript, Git, Python, SQL, Bootstrap, Sass, Node, Ruby, and so so so much more.
  • Learn Code the Hard Way – This site is for a series of books that have been recommended to me by many coders as a great reference tool.
  • Become a Programmer, Motherfucker– While the title is very graphic, this site has lots of links to many other great resources. It is brought to us by the man who created Learn Code the Hard Way.

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I want to finish by saying that the best resource we have for things that we don’t know, or are unsure of, is each other. While this isn’t intended as the perfect moment for us all to sit around the camp fire, swaying, and singing songs (although we should definitely do that); this is my favorite part about this program. We work together, we help make each other better. We don’t all want to do or be the same thing, and we all recognize that there are 25 other people who have different skills than our own. I’m never happier than when I can help someone, because I know tomorrow, they will help me.

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Time To Brag About It

By: Amber McCraw, Assistant Director of Career Services, School of Communications

At this point, our iMedia students are several months into a 10-month intensive program.  And, while it feels like they just started, it is already time to start thinking about life after iMedia – I know, hard to believe right?

You’ve been reading posts about all of the great things the students are learning, the skills they are gaining, and the experiences they have been and will be privy to. A couple weeks ago, there was a post about the draft for Fly-ins.  Along with all of the other experiences the students are gaining, this is an incredible and unique opportunity for students to participate in and expand on their skills.

While our students are gaining these experiences, it is important for them to remember that now is the time to start bragging about them.  What I mean is this: these are the experiences and skills that they should be promoting on a resume, their LinkedIn, and their website/ePortfolio. I want to focus on the ePortfolio because this is the most time-consuming piece. Often times, I will recommend a student use a platform such as Weebly, Wix, or WordPress to create their ePortfolio, but our iMedia students are learning to code, so they have the skills to create their own, which is a little more time-consuming. Below are some tips to keep in mind when creating an ePortfolio.

  • Choose a website name
  • Each section should be its own page (Resume, Contact, About Me) and I recommend labeling pages based on skill (i.e. Writing, Design, Photography, etc)
  • Build a site map to organize your content
  • Get prior approval for client work
  • Provide context for the work you include
  • Make sure your ePortfolio promotes your career goals and matches your profession
  • Choose your best work that aligns with the skills you want to promote
  • Keep it simple and easy to navigate
  • Embed videos to keep visitors from having to navigate away from your page
  • Let your personality shine through

In today’s market, employers expect candidates to have ePortfolios.  While a resume can tell an employer what you can do, an ePortfolio shows them what you can do.  For our students, who are creating so many visual pieces, this is pertinent for their job search.  It also provides a way for people to contact them for freelance or contract work as well.

If you haven’t started creating your ePortfolio, no worries! You’ve got plenty of time.  Start thinking about the things you want to include, such as your Capstone project and work from your Fly-ins.  Then, make an appointment with me to get feedback and advice as you start creating your tool kit (ePortfolio, Resume, Cover Letter, LinkedIn).

Happy Learning & Creating!

Lessons in the struggle

I really thought iMedia would be easy. (I’ll wait a moment for the explosion of laughter to subside.)

Seriously, though, I entered the program thinking it would be a breeze compared to the work I’ve done before. I spent years working as a journalist at newspapers in Virginia, Mississippi, and most recently, North Carolina. There were days when I worked almost literally from sunrise to sunset or even later, not leaving the office until after midnight. I’ve turned around three or more news stories in one day. Some assignments involved not only writing, but also live tweeting and shooting short videos. What else could be more exhausting than that, right?

We all know the answer.

My automatic response to questions about my weekend plans is, “Homework.” I don’t think about what’s showing on TV during the week; chances are I won’t be home to watch it anyway. I’m routinely up early early morning to finish reading or other assignments. I regularly fall asleep while reading or working on my laptop. My life was completely different almost three months ago. But that’s a good thing. Yes, I’m usually exhausted and somewhat overwhelmed, but I generally feel good about what I’m learning and doing. The pain and frustration, generally, are worth it.

I joined iMedia hoping to broaden my career options. I also entered with what I thought was a clear plan of what I wanted to do next. A few days of boot camp made me realize that like Jon Snow, I knew nothing. But that’s a good thing. Here’s why: I’m already doing things that were completely foreign to me before I started this program. I’ve actually coded websites. I’m much more comfortable with Photoshop and Illustrator — programs I hadn’t really used before.

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We’ve also had a number of guest speakers, which is one of my favorite things about the program so far. Less than three months in, we’ve heard from a number of iMedia alumni. Other guest speakers include Scott Kelly of the Elon business school and Lee Rainie of the Pew Research Center (who is also author of a book we read in one class). We attended a session with internet pioneer Vint Cerf. I also attended a broader university event with legendary Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward.

Insight from those guests, as well as everything I’ve learned in class so far, led me to toss aside my post-graduation plans. I don’t know what I’ll do then or what I will be capable of doing. While that occasionally sends me into a panic, it also leaves me a little excited about the possibilities.

Get Ready for The Draft!

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The time has come: on Tuesday October 11th, the draft for fly-in trips happens. This means we all figure out what country we will be going to, what our job will be, and who our teammates are.

We have some amazing locations that we could go to: The Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, and Iceland. In these countries, we will work with nonprofits to create an interactive media project to help their organization.

While this is an exciting part of our time here, we can’t help but be a little nervous, mainly because not knowing is just so hard.

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The anticipation has built up for such a long time, and we can’t wait to see how it turns out. Who knows how it will go and who we will get to collaborate with?

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After all, the part we’re most excited about is getting together with our groups and creating an amazing project for a non-profit. Soon enough, we’ll all be in sync like a great team.

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So as nervous as we are, once we get picked and find out our group, we’ll be super thankful that we made it and have this great opportunity.

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Then the collaboration starts and it’s countdown to fly-ins, where we’ll have the time of our lives with our friends and make some amazing projects for great causes.

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So with less than a week left, we are ready for the draft. Bring it on!

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