Another Transformation

by Maggie Mullikin

I recently had the pleasure of visiting with a 2011 iMedia graduate, Bettina Johnson.  She and I sat down together to talk about her new job at Pace Communications in Greensboro, NC.  Pace is a custom publishing agency which is moving more and more in the digital direction.  Enter Bettina.

My first question for Bettina was about landing the job.  “It’s an interesting story how I ended up at Pace. I have always wanted to live and work abroad in order to take advantage of my dual American and European citizenship. My dream city has been London for as long as I can remember. After attending an International Career session put on by the Elon Career center, I immediately approached Richard Jordan, associate director of career services for the Love School of Business. His accent was a dead give away that he was originally from the UK so I set up a time to meet with him about moving and working abroad. From there he gave me the name of Craig Waller at Pace Communications, one of the fellow Brits he was familiar with in the area (but did not know personally). I held on to Mr. Waller’s name for a few weeks without having any further contact information or tie in to the company. The Elon iMedia Career Showcase was on the horizon and as I went through the list of possible company attendees I came across Pace Communications again. I emailed the contact on the list and asked her if there was any way I could possibly meet with Mr. Waller to discuss my interest in digital media and a professional career in London. At the time I didn’t know too much about Pace and was more interested in what advice Mr. Waller would be able to give me. To my surprise, I received an email back from Mr. Waller himself with a time to come by Pace. Excited, I went to Pace thinking this was only an informational interview with a person that may have some ideas or networking possibilities for my jump across the pond. After meeting with him, he took me around to 4 other people (head of digital new business, head of digital strategy, head of interactive development, and a digital project manager). I left a resume and personal business card with each of these new contacts and was then taken( to my surprise) to the HR department to fill out a job application. Although they didn’t have anything specific open at the time, they were eager to expand their new media department and wanted me to leave all my information on file. About a week later I received a call from HR asking if was available to come in again and meet with more people on the digital team. I was then offered a new role they created around my skill sets and am now the digital editor and online communicate manager at Pace Communications. Although I still aspire to reach London someday, I think this is a fabulous stepping-stone with some great new connections in the industry to make my dream a reality. Just have to take it one step at a time and it will happen when it happens.”

How did your time in iMedia contribute to the current success at your job?
“I have to admit that Elon has come through for me on more than one occasion when landing a job. As an Elon graduate in 2006, I got my first job as an online editor at a newspaper down near Charlotte NC. I was the only outside candidate for the job to get my foot in the door of the company because the Editor at the time was the former editor of the Burlington Times-News newspaper and, needless to say, he was a big fan of Elon. The same is somewhat true for my job here at Pace. Craig Waller and the digital team are very interested in graduates from Elon University. They have been keeping an eye on the iMedia program since the beginning but never had a true connection to the school to learn more about the graduate school. Upon first meeting Mr. Waller (during what I thought was going to be a basic informational interview) he was extremely interested in what I was doing in the iMedia program, what I thought might be missing from the program, what I liked and didn’t like, and how I thought my time in the program would reshape my career in digital media moving forward. I think he took this time to get to know Elon and me more than I got to know him! It seemed to work out perfectly for both of us. By taking the first step and approaching Pace on my own, I turned out to be the “missing link” between Pace and Elon that they had been searching for. Pace is very excited to develop a relationship with the iMedia program to help shape the talent and possibly bring new faces into Pace.”

What is the best part of your job?
“The best part of my job is the encouragement I receive to try new things. Digital and interactive media are fields where new ideas are emerging everyday and companies are becoming more comfortable putting their feelers out into the realm of trial and error. When I first began my career in online media only 6 years ago, it was a struggle to coax my company into the digital world.  I was the online media department all on my own (a department of one) working in a world of traditional print and older journalists set in their ways. In only a few years time I no longer have to stand alone on the digital pedestal and now have the freedom to bring new ideas to the table with backing and curiosity from a team of people who work with me to make new media happen. The feeling of endless possibilities is much more motivating in a career setting than facing a towering wall of speculation and stubborn thought.”

Do you have career advice for current iMedia students?
“Network, network, network, even if you already have a job. It never hurts to reach out to people in your industry and learn whatever you can from their experience. Who knows, the new relationships you build through networking may lead to something bigger and better for your career in the future. Never stop networking and you will never stop learning.”

Bettina’s pearls of wisdom:
“Take advantage of every minute you have in the program. Put your personal life on hold for the next 10 months and focus on where this experience will bring your career and future. On graduation day you will wish the program had been longer even though now you may feel that you want to slam your head into a wall and launch your computer out of a Powell window. Everything you put into the program now will pay off immensely in the end! Get to know your classmates (current and alums) and get to know your professors. All these people will be great resources for you in the future. This is not a “fifth year of college.”  This is a graduate program designed to show you the demands of the real world in a professional setting and teach you how to succeed. The best thing I learned from the Elon iMedia program is how to learn. It sounds basic, but interactive media is an industry that is always changing and you have to be able to keep up. Learn how to teach yourself and ask the right questions to your resources and networks. In the real world you’re on your own and there are no second chances in a career.”

I asked Bettina about the most challenging part of her job.  Her answer was interesting and one that people who love their job can relate to.  In short, she said,

“The days go by so fast because I’m so focused on work that I enjoy. There is so much work to be done at Pace, which is a wonderful thing! I don’t mind spending extra time in my life outside the office to get it done. I enjoy what I do and that’s why I made it my main focus in life. Find something you love to do and you will have few challenges in your career.”

 

 

As I have said before and will say again – what a joy for me to see the transformation of these highly talented iMedia graduates.  Bettina will be joining us in February at our Open House to speak with current and prospective students. 

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