My Mid-Semester Resolutions

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Miramar Beach, Florida

As I’m writing this post, I’m looking out the window at a big patch of green grass, sunny skies, and a clock that’s waiting to tell me in an hour that I’ve earned some beach time. Spring break introduces a challenge to prioritization. On one hand, studies show that taking a vacation (or a break in general) is good for your health. It not only clears your mind to improve your focus when you get back to work, but it also improves your heart health. On the other hand, I made a to-do list of about a million things I should really get done over the break to prevent my workload from being overwhelming next week, and getting all of them done means there won’t be much of a break at all.

As someone who likes to plan ahead, it can be hard to tune out stressors. At this point in the program, there seems to be a lot of stress about finding a job, finishing our projects, and keeping it all together. I decided I would take this break to reflect on what I want my last two months (!!) in the program to look like, and come up with some resolutions to make that happen.

  1. I will embrace everything I have learned about myself and media production in the program. For our fly-in, I served as the Project Manager of the Costa Rica team. The task was very challenging, but I came out of the experience feeling more prepared for real-world experience than I did upon entering the program. It instilled confidence in me that I can handle any challenge that comes my way. In addition to that, I have improved my video editing skills and my knowledge of using DSLRs for videography. I can code a site that doesn’t look like it was made in 1995! I’m still learning every day.
  2. I will focus on my time left in iMedia – not wish it away in favor of getting a job. One of the biggest appeals of this program is how marketable we can become to employers. Elon University provides so many networking and career-building opportunities for us to find our dream jobs. A good portion of our class is made up of students who came straight from undergrad, and that means -for most of us, anyway- that we don’t know exactly what that dream job looks like. There is so much room for trial and error in our job search and in the jobs we take as we figure out what that dream job really entails. My biggest resolution is to focus on what I can still learn over the next few months. That includes editing a short comedy film for Advanced Video Production, mastering Cinema 4D, and learning the Bootstrap framework. I want to dedicate my time to those things- even if it means putting the job hunt aside for now.
  3. That being said, I will still utilize the services offered at Elon. Amber McCraw compiled a fabulous list of tasks to prep for our job search as iMedia students. I will commit to completing most of these tasks before I graduate… after I finish my homework!
  4. I will express gratitude to everyone who has helped me get through this whirlwind of a year. We could not have gotten this far without the support of the iMedia faculty, staff, and our friends and family. I am declaring on the internet in all its permanence that I will write some thank you notes and emails to the people who have supported me on this endeavor. It’s such an easy way to spread positivity and brighten someone’s day, including your own!
  5. I will take that break! For now that means walking on a white sandy beach, but for the next two months I will rest my eyes for a few minutes after editing for hours or walk to Moseley and back between classes. I only have a couple of months left to enjoy our beautiful campus and I can’t let that time pass me by!

What are your mid-semester resolutions?

 

Dream Job

I recently traveled to San Francisco for a conference and was able to make time to visit iMedia alumnus, Nick Margherita. Nick is video producer at CBS Interactive creating video content for the gaming-focused website GameSpot.  http://www.gamespot.com

Nick, joyfully, told me all about his job, how he landed it, and its correlation to his Interactive Media Master’s degree from Elon.

“As a video producer, I primarily write and edit entertainment content for GameSpot.com and GameSpot’s multiple social media outlets. These videos include things like gameplay clips, op/ed features, and extensive reviews. Aside from writing and editing, I also host live streams and roundtable chats discussing the latest video games and television shows.

“When I was preparing to graduate from iMedia, my dream was to work at ESPN. I felt that this combination of video production and sports would fulfill both my personal interests and professional aspirations. So with the help of Elon’s vast communications network I was able to get my foot in the door at ESPN as a production assistant. But within my first month at ESPN, I realized that live television production is vastly different from the videos we were producing in iMedia. I often felt that my creativity was being limited, and although it was an extremely hard decision to make, I decided to leave the company and television production in general.

“When I made the decision to move to San Francisco, I did not have a job but what I did have was the confidence in my iMedia master’s education and degree.

“Still, landing a job in SF was not as easy as I’d expected. I spent about three months couch-hopping around the city freelance editing for various tech start-ups. After struggling to find consistent freelance opportunities, I decided to join a creative agency to offer my skills to a more widespread clientele. Fortunately, when the agency learned that I had earned my master’s degree in Interactive Media and was well-versed in multiple skill sets aside from just video production, my resume rose to the top of their list. Within a few weeks I’d received an offer to be a full-time video producer at CBS Interactive.

The people I work with are by far the best part of my job. It’s a group of creative individuals who are super passionate about games, television and movies both in and outside of work. I can confidently say that I am excited to get up each and every morning to work with some of the gaming industry’s most respected and brightest writers and producers. And obviously having the opportunity to create content that I am interested in is a major plus and makes work feel a little less like work.”

Nick’s advice for people considering iMedia,

“Whether you are a recent college graduate or an experienced professional, if you are unsure of what career path you are passionate about and communications and media interest you, then iMedia is the perfect solution. When my undergraduate education came to a close I was still unsure of what exactly I wanted to pursue within the realm of communications. iMedia not only guided me in my journey to discover my interest in video but it also gave me the tangible skills necessary to succeed in the professional production world. Both the program itself and its faculty and staff changed my life in an incredible way, and I owe much of my success to iMedia.”

And naturally, words of advice to our current class,

“It sounds cliché, but don’t be afraid to fail or make mistakes; everything happens for a reason. When I first left ESPN, moved to San Francisco, and was jobless for three months, I thought I’d made the biggest mistake of my life. But now, nearly a year later, I couldn’t be happier with my past decisions. I honestly feel that I am a stronger individual because of the lessons I learned from those “mistakes.” The real world can be overwhelming sometimes and not go the way you plan. But if you work hard, focus on your goals, and have a positive attitude, then you can land your dream job. Or maybe even discover your dream like I did.

“In short, cherish your time at Elon with your classmates and professors, as I miss the campus and its people everyday! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts and experiences, and best of luck to both current and future iMedia students!”

Information about CBS Interactive: CBS Interactive is made up of multiple online brands that include: CBS News, CNET, CBS Sports, GameSpot, Giant Bomb, Metacritic, Last.fm, etc. GameSpot provides news, reviews, and other information on video games, entertainment, and other fun aspects of “geek” culture. 

 

Thanks Nick….

 

 

Demand for iMedia Skills Continues to Grow

You’ve probably started to notice the shift. #iMedia17 has shared details about projects, offered insight about class assignments, and now, students are preparing for the end of their 10-month graduate school journeys. With just a little more than two months left before graduation, the job search is on and the pace for life after iMedia will be soon be set for these budding professionals.

And there’s a lot to look forward to. A quick internet search sheds light on how much digital and creative skills are in demand in a wide range of industries. Look further and you’ll learn more about the benefits of working in digital careers, key skills needed and the most sought-after job titles.

With help from CNNMoney and Payscale, let’s take a peek at a few iMedia-friendly positions and the job outlook of each. In the Best Jobs in American 2017 list, these sources highlight the “top 100 careers with big growth, great pay and satisfying work.” Here are 10 jobs from the list that are popular among iMedia graduates.

               JOB  MEDIAN PAY 10-YEAR JOB GROWTH
#1 – Mobile Applications Developer $97,100 19%
#14 – Webmaster $61,200 27%
#26 – Community Relations Manager $63,600 10%
#30 – Brand Manager $89,800 9%
#42 – Social Media Manager  $57,400 9%
#47 – Front End Developer/Engineer $81,000 27%
#56 – Videographer $49,600 12%
#57 – User Interface Designer $73,800  27%
#68 – Content Strategist $84,400 19%
#99 – User Experience Designer $85,900 13%

Visit CNNMoney for the complete list. For more about the Elon M.A. in Interactive Media program, visit elon.edu/imedia.

 

Sunny, with a Chance of Employment

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the weather.  Last week, parts of New Hampshire acquired about two feet of snow.  Temperatures hovered around eight degrees.

My mom was pulling out battery operated lamps and preparing food for a power outage.  My dad was bundled in several layers of clothing with his “Nook of the North” hat nestled safely over his ears, pushing a 200-pound snow blower back and forth.  img_9984While my parents desperately tried to alleviate Mother Nature’s damage, I was hiking across a soft bed of pine needles with my foster dog, Raina, panting at the end of her leash.  Clad in only a tank top and shorts, I was enjoying the 78-degree day here in North Carolina.  The contrast of distance and weather felt like a direct correlation to the contrast of time and opportunity.  Although I joked with my parents about our vastly different agendas, it sparked a few realizations, some even deeper than the fluffy snowdrifts back home.

Last year, I was trudging through the inevitable end of my undergraduate career; I felt weighted by the pressure to succeed in the coming months.  I was scared that I had not yet reached my full potential as a student; I was terrified of being buried in debt and being left too far under to ever accomplish my dreams.

Although the thought of stuffing all of my belongings into my 16-year-old minivan was intimidating, the challenge to finish my education was one I thought was worth it, and one I was willing to accept.  Now, I recognize the stark difference that just a year can make.  When I made the move from New Hampshire to North Carolina, I not only left behind the unfriendly weather, I left behind uncertainty.  Now, my horizon is bright with more than just sun; it is bright with possibility.

Elon’s iMedia program has provided opportunities beyond belief.  I have discovered that I am stronger than I ever knew; my breaking point is now nearly impossible to reach (with a coffee in hand, of course).  img_9947
Through a few months of intense study of theory, user experience, content management, videography, web coding, graphic design, and photography, I have absorbed more knowledge than I did in four years.  I developed a passion for photography, and I met many like-minded individuals, developing friendships that I will continue to cherish many years from now.  I had the incredible opportunity to travel abroad to Reykjavík, Iceland, assisting Frumbjörg, a social innovation center, with the production of their first 24-Hour Innovation Day.  Two weeks later, I was able to help present the final project at Elon.

This semester, I will finish my journey by learning more about digital branding, multimedia storytelling, and media economics.  My capstone project provides me with the ability to unite my passion for canine rescue with the strengths I have developed in this program.  3w9a9920When I walk up to receive my diploma in May, I will have completed an entirely self-driven project that reflects both my technical skill and my ethical concerns.  I have grown beyond comparison, and I am still amazed that in just seven months, iMedia has provided me with such a powerful desire to immerse myself in this world.  I’m not quite sure what the future holds for me, but I think that it’s safe to say it is sunny, with a chance of employment.

Capstones: Can we do it?

What do you want to be when you grow up?

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This question has been posed a lot these last few weeks. It started in the fly-in. We had to start thinking about life after the program is over. What does that look like? Are you going to be a designer? A content strategist? A user experience designer? A coder? Who do you want to be?

 

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Don’t worry none of us know. 

Our capstone is the culmination of everything we have learned, but it also has a specific purpose. It is the best representation of ourselves and our abilities to show prospective employers. The goal is to play up our strengths. 

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Coming up with that idea, that perfect representation is extremely terrifying. We keep getting asked and are asking others, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” “How does this project get you there?” We toss around ideas, we help each other punch it up, and we worry. Is it good enough? Can I do it?

We are going to be spending months working on this one project. It has the potential to be anything we want it to be. That is slightly terrifying. Where do we start? Do we have time? How are we going to do not only this amazing project, but a portfolio? And don’t get me started on our other classes.  But,  underneath all that fear , this project is extremely exciting.

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I can make anything I want. I have complete creative freedom. Professors can guide me to the best outcome, and classmates can help me flush out concepts, but at the end of the day, this is me. 

So, while everyone in iMedia 2017 is stressing, there is no question in my mind that there are going to be 25 amazing projects. We all have such different personalities, no one is doing the same thing.

For the students in the program, breathe, we’re going to be great.

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For prospective students, don’t let this scare you, this is the most exciting thing we have ever done. Like skydiving without the plane, or chance of death. 

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My classmates will disagree, they will say its horrible. But, we’ve said that about everything so far, and everyone has said later that the experience was the best they’ve ever  had.

All I know is that while it is inevitable that we will stress out about our projects, and there will be lots of longs nights, endless coffee and frustrations, we will all make it. We’ll end the program saying, “I did this. I know who I want to be.”

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It’s About That Time

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

As the Spring semester starts, our iMedia students are reminded how close graduation actually is and the reality that the job search process is going to soon start. With their course load and capstone projects filling up their schedule, we encourage them to get an early start and set aside time to devote to it throughout the semester. Below is a check list of things to remember and work on throughout the process.

  • Update your resume with relevant course work, software and equipment skills, fly-in projects, and any freelance work completed since the start of the program.
  • Create a cover letter draft to be edited and used as a base for applications that describes your relevant experiences and career goals.
  • Update your online portfolio with samples of your work from courses, the fly-in experience, and other projects.
  • Create or update your LinkedIn profile with your experiences and a custom URL. Use LinkedIn to reach companies and connect with alumni from Elon and your undergraduate institution.
  • Make an appointment with the Assistant Director of Career Services for the School of Communications (Me) to have your materials reviewed before beginning the application process.
  • Craft a list of cities you have an interest in moving to and start to make a list of companies in each of those cities that you would like to work for.
  • Attend the Spring Job & Internship Expo on Thursday, March 2nd in Alumni Gym from 2:00-5:30 pm to network with the 80 employers who will be in attendance. Download the free Career Fair Plus App to see who is attending.
  • Add the Elon Com-Advisor as a friend on Facebook to stay up to date with daily job announcements .
  • Search for opportunities on the Elon Job Network. This is an exclusive database just for Elon students and alumni. These employers specifically want Elon talent.
  • Schedule a mock interview to practice speaking about your skills and experiences as they relate to the job you have applied for.
  • Let me know once you have accepted a position!

It is an exciting time for our students as they both finish up their time at Elon and prepare for their time after Elon. The SPDC and SoC have great resources to assist in the process. We are so proud of the great work they have completed and can’t wait to hear as the job offers roll in.

iMedia fly-in: The trip not taken

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

— Robert Frost

The road winded through the mountains, past colorful, tin-roofed houses crammed together along the sides. As the bus moved through the Linda Vista, the translator shared some of the community’s history.

The green field where children play soccer was once a landfill. Children used to say their parents were “divers” – a reference to salvaging items from the trash, not exploring the oceans in scuba gear. In many cases, the translator explained, the owners of the houses we passed by were squatters; they didn’t own the land beneath their humble homes.

This was the first introduction to a community where Fundación PIEDAD, one of the fly-in clients, operates a school, Escuela Linda Vista. It is not a place I would have seen had I traveled to Costa Rica on my own instead of for a fly-in as a member of Team Pura Vida ’17.

Looking back, much of what I enjoyed in Costa Rica were experiences I normally avoid when traveling.

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I usually insist on eating out when I travel, although I try to favor locally owned restaurants over restaurant chains. I usually turn down offers to stay at someone’s home and eat a home-cooked meal. My view on this changed in Costa Rica.

The fly-in team ate two meals cooked by a local woman and her mother and served at their home. I enjoyed and appreciated the meals, but it wasn’t until I was back in North Carolina that the importance of that experience sank in. I can’t take full credit for the revelation. While talking with Amanda Jones (program manager for Team Inspire and Ice) about our respective fly-in experiences, she mentioned what it honor it was for my team to get to share a meal with someone in their home. I just take credit for recognizing the truth in what she said.

Had I traveled on my own, I would have chosen a different hotel, maybe one owned by a chain in different part of the city. But the first morning, I immediately took pictures of the mountain view from the window of my hotel room to share with friends and family. One of my favorite memories from the hotel is when I spent way too much time using broken Spanish and inadequate hand gestures trying to ask a woman who, I think, manages the business, if I could pet her dog. After she brought over two more people, and after several failures with Google translate, we reached a point of understanding. Petting the dog — a friendly Shar-Pei with a loud, gruff bark — made my day.

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When I travel, I avoided walking for any substantial distance in unfamiliar places. The scenery around me is typically a blur from a car window instead of something I strolled (or huffed and puffed) through.

If left to my own trip-planning devices, I would have missed out on what felt like an authentic experience.

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In his poem The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost describes how someone feeling nostalgic and sentimental exaggerates about the importance of a mundane decision they once made. Maybe I’m already doing that now as I reflect on the fly-in to Costa Rica, which is already almost a month away in my rear view. Either way, I do know this: I enjoyed the trip overall. I felt I got a fairly authentic sense of the country in a short amount of time. Yes, it’s silly to feel a little sentimental about wiping away layers of volcanic ash from my phone and laptop screens, but not to remember the awe I felt while watching a seemingly endless landscape of mountain slopes and caverns pass by on one bus trip. I still smile at my grainy iPhone photos and remember marveling at the pink-mottled sky above the mountains at sunrise and at dusk.

The fly-in is yet another example of how iMedia has pushed me outside of my comfort zone. At numerous times, I have had to embrace change and the unknown.

Doing so has made all the difference.