Managing work-life balance as an iMedia professional

With our iMedia finals week in full swing, I feel that it is important to acknowledge that the life of an interactive media professional, and especially that of a graduate student, can be intense. Do you worry that you are becoming a workaholic? Is the stress of work or school getting in the way of enjoying time with friends, family, or even alone? Even if you haven’t hit your personal “wall,” this serves as your mental health checkpoint: keep reading for some tips on managing your work-life balance.

Set your productivity hours

If you are anything like me, it is hard for you to get anything done before 9am, or after 9pm. Great! For me, that is perfectly set-aside “me-time” that I have every day. What are the hours that you can’t focus during? What are your most productive hours? Know your habits, and treat those habits like a set of rules. With remote work taking the world by storm, it can be increasingly difficult to set boundaries, but this is an absolute necessity. 

Nourish your body

Being a powerhouse all day every day at work is fantastic, unless you are sacrificing the health and well-being of your body. Here’s your friendly reminder to never skip that all-important lunch break. In fact, if time permits, invite a friend, classmate, or coworker along with you for your next lunch. Make it feel like a real break from work. Are you rescheduling your gym time, then rescheduling again, and again… and again… We have all been there. If working out is a priority for you, and part of your ideal routine, don’t let your work get in the way of this! Know your personal priorities, and acknowledge that taking care of yourself must always be one. 

Where do you work?

What does your workspace look like? An office? A coffee shop? Or… maybe it is your bed. If your workspace overlaps with your personal space frequently, it may be time to make a change. This habit can be blurring the lines between your work and home life, in ways you may not even be conscious of. 

Maximize your free time

What are you doing with your weekends? Hopefully, they look significantly different from your weekdays. Make your free time reflect the activities you enjoy most, the places you want to go, and the people you love. Just as you try your hardest at work or school, live the portions of your life that do not involve work to their fullest.

Know that you are not alone

You are not alone in your struggle to find balance. It is part of a complex set of emotions we all have the capacity to feel and to overcome. Acknowledge how you feel when you feel it, then take steps to find your personal balance.

You got this. 


For more advice, please visit Mental Health America’s resources.

Leveraging Live-tweeting as an Interactive Media Professional

Conferences were never designed to be one-sided and top-down only. They are meant to spark other conversations, between participants, pertaining to the topics discussed. This fosters deeper understanding, new insights, and exponential professional and personal growth. 

Enter live-tweeting— when Twitter users engage in conversation in backchannels alongside the real-time events of a conference or similar event. While this has been a phenomenon for years, the trend has grown in prominence and importance in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ease of connecting with others through tweeting in a backchannel is unparalleled. The ability to respond to and comment on moments as they are happening is crucial. The trail left for those who could not attend to follow along with is ideal. 

So, because this is such a powerful tool, how can we use live-tweeting to our greatest advantage when attending events? 

Feel out the vibe

Before jumping into the conversation, scan the backchannel and read a couple of tweets. Note the tone: is it more casual or professional? Note the length: is it mostly short comments and questions? Or are people sharing personal anecdotes? 

Use the event’s hashtag

The event you are live-tweeting about likely has a hashtag associated with the backchannel conversation. Be sure to add the appropriate hashtag to each of your tweets so that users can see your content.

Be sure to tag users

Make sure you tag the users you are talking about, congratulating, or asking a question. You want them to be able to see it, after all! Also, this can serve as a great way to follow other professionals and network long after the conclusion of the event. 

Keep your professional goals in mind

Consider that future or current employers may see your tweets (and that this can be a great thing!) How can you orient your comments and questions in a way that will showcase your curiosity and prior knowledge? Keep your interests and career goals in mind while live-tweeting, and be conscious of whether your tweets reflect these.

Proofread your tweets. Please.

Resist the urge to tweet without reading through what you said. Tweets are so short, there is really no excuse to skip a quick proofread, and you may even catch embarrassing typos and errors. 

Do you feel a bit more equipped to live-tweet at your next big event? Great!

Us iMedians sure do. Check out our recent Twitter backchannel at #pktheory to see how iMedia 2022 utilized live-tweeting to stay engaged in each other’s Pecha Kucha special topic presentations in Professor Lackaff’s class. 

A “One-Man Brand”: A five-step breakdown on building a strong personal brand as a media professional, and its benefits.

“So, what do you do?” This can undoubtedly go down as one of the most nerve-wracking questions in the sea of mixers, networking events, or overall instances of meeting new people. 

In the realm of digital media, there lie many problems. And for every problem, lies a creative professional that has the skill set, organization, personality, and drive to solve them.

Does the question then become how do professionals stand out in these digital industries, not in a sea of resumes, but in an overall sense of network and net worth? The answer lies in taking the time to create a personal brand. Although this may impede on social anxieties or even imposter syndrome tactics, personal branding is the key to the right trajectory in any space. 

After all, people trust what you create after they trust who you sell yourself to be. Below are five tips that Interactive Media master’s students and professionals should take into account when crafting their personal brand. 

1 Make your skills clear

Be honest with yourself and jot down a few technical and interpersonal skills that you know you use to make an impact. I typically like to suggest what I’ve coined as a “theme, tech, and trait” list. Here you can state thematic areas in your particular industry, a technical skill that matches that area, and a trait to add to the mix such as a result of the work… Reminder: although these may be great resume constructs, use these as keywords when approaching a specific project or opportunity.

Example:

Theme TechTrait
(A broad area that you’re great at working in)(Technical tools that support this work)(Descriptive words that add to your work ethic) 
Social Media Strategy Hootsuite (Scheduling Platform)Strategic Planner

If you’re not too sure how to come up with content for your list, make note of what other people ask of you. What do you bring to the table? These are vital parts of your skillset. 

2 Make your passions even clearer 

Steve Jobs once said, “You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out.” And well… Steve was right. 

Skills are things you build upon but can be fluid over time. Passions, on the other hand, can live on forever. When connecting with other professionals or forming your personal brand, state what you are intensely dedicated to improving or learning more about. And state it over and over again.

Your future network could very well connect with the social media strategist proficient in Hootsuite, but they could also connect with a social media strategist that knows Hootsuite and uses it to automate video content for IT companies even more. What you are passionate about gives your expertise a place to live.  And it can make conversations just that much easier when you can communicate your goals out of authenticity on a particular subject. 

3 Social media, networking, and collateral 

When branding yourself you’ll want to have conversations with people. Lots of them. Carry your brand over from conversations to spaces by being on appropriate social media networks and digitally capturing both your skills and passions. So, the answer is yes. You need the professional Twitter to chime in on industry conversations while using the character limit to express who you are every time. You may need Instagram and Facebook to visually display projects you’ve been working on. And of course, you’ll want to optimize it all on the grandest one of all – LinkedIn. 

Take your social media platforms as lead magnets to meet new people. Make your work visible and clearly organized or stay connected with those you’ve met in person. Ensure you have a version of a solid portfolio or evidence that you are currently building one. 

4 Professional methods of contact

Make your personal brand easy for others to locate. When fine-tuning your social media outlets and portfolios, state your full name and find two to three words that summarize your aspiring niche, industry, or passion: i.e. Ivana, the Elon graduate student will suffice, but Ivana Spurlock the aspiring Content Marketing Strategist can make it easier for others to locate and understand what you’re about in seconds. 

Place these keywords in your online bios, website taglines, and more. Be sure to also provide, at minimum, a branded email address or phone number for basic contacting options. Then, link everything. If you’re “some-timey” on one platform, link to another and vice versa.

5 Ditch fear and create 

Discovering a way to present yourself can be a rewarding challenge. So it is only right that when you do so, you celebrate by creating. Move intentionally to solve problems, showcase your abilities, and create meaningful connections. Then, simply, push out content. 

Draft small tweets about a topic you’re passionate about. Post a LinkedIn article around something that you want to delve deeper into. Draft creative visual pieces for your portfolio, or even pump out a video or two on Youtube. 

Whatever you do, leave a trail of intentional activity in your wake.

Building a brand takes time. Make the time. 

Ivana Spurlock, Interactive Media Student