No Room for Doubts

by maggie mullikin

Last month I attended a conference in NYC to promote our iMedia program and, while in the city, I met with Ashley Dischinger, a 2011 graduate who now calls Manhattan home. We talked about so many wonderful things  – the city, her apartment, the neighborhoods she has discovered, and then the all important reason she went to NY to begin with – her new career.  Ashley answered my questions and then some….

“I work for VINDICO, an online video advertising-serving platform. Our company serves, tracks, and measures online video ad activity for many prominent campaigns, as well as provides in-depth reporting and analytics to our clients. My role as Graphic Designer allows me to work closely with agencies to repurpose campaigns into an interactive format. (Some examples) I design a lot of the formats from scratch, using mostly Photoshop and Illustrator.
Because I prep the static designs for our developers to build, I also have to envision how the user will ultimately be able to interact with the ad and then design based around that criteria.

Ashley gives the interactive media program credit for helping her launch her career.

“I absolutely know that my graduate degree was the main reason that I’ve ended up in this position. Had I not had relatively strong training in Photoshop and design skills, as well as an overall understanding of how users interact with digital media, I wouldn’t last more than a minute in this position… or even, this industry! iMedia was a wonderful stepping stone to prepare me for a career in the digital creative world.

“I received my undergraduate degree in Journalism, with a minor in International Studies, at Elon. As an undergrad, I had been on track toward a career as a reporter in online journalism. I even interned at CBS Radio and spent my last year at Elon dreaming of becoming a Web Producer at the station after graduation. Still, something was pulling me towards iMedia. Of course as an undergrad in the School of Comm, I had heard plenty of good things about the program, and my curiosity got the best of me (and good thing it did!) I had always felt a passion for my undergrad classes that involved design and introduced me to the basics of Flash and the rest of the Adobe programs. I can’t explain it, but I just had a feeling that iMedia was the right choice because it could be my way to delve more into the digital media that fascinated me so much.

“In retrospect, I have a deep appreciation for the way the program was designed to balance production and theory classes. Obviously, a thorough knowledge of how to produce media in any of these programs is a crucial part of my day-to-day. However, the understanding of how users consume and interact with media is invaluable.  I apply that understanding to every format I am designing. What will users what to click on? How can I include the product information in a way that won’t overwhelm the user? What kind of animation can I apply without having the format turn “too busy?” These are all questions I can typically answer, based on the general theories we discussed in the program. Sure, I hated all the readings for theory classes at the time… but now I’m aware of how they apply in the reality of the industry!

And to those considering an iMedia degree?

“I have a lot of people approach me about potentially applying for iMedia, and they always ask me if I think it’s worth it. My answer every time is ABSOLUTELY. Don’t think of iMedia as strictly  a communications’ degree. The great thing about the program is, it allows you to take whatever your passions are, and mold the program to fit your needs. If you want to be a reporter, as I did, the program can guide you in the direction of interactive storytelling, for instance. The other great aspect of iMedia is you really never know where you might end up! If you keep an open mind during the first semester, your strengths and weaknesses will become clear to you… more importantly, what you are the most passionate about will shine through (sometimes without even realizing it!) I never in a million years thought I would end up as a graphic designer, but it became crystal clear after being on the design team for our winter term class that designing layouts in Photoshop is what makes me happiest. I guess what I’m getting at is that iMedia will expose you to a wide range of skill sets and knowledge, and it allows you to nail down what you love to do and run with it.”

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