By Henry Kean iMedia Class of 2015
After a much needed fall break and a shortened week of classes, the iMedia students got to experience our first homecoming as graduate students and meet with some of our predecessors from years past. On Friday we had a visit from Conor Britain, a graduate of the first iMedia class, who spoke about his experience with finding a job after graduation and what it is like to make the transition from student to professional. It was really useful to hear from someone who has been in our position and not only made it through the program successfully, but was able to secure a job right after graduation that he has stayed at ever since.
One of the most important things that Conor discussed was how well this program teaches you to market yourself. Regardless of what you want to do with your life, you need some form of marketing skills to make it successfully through a job search. In this program, through different projects and homework assignments you are inadvertently creating your own professional portfolio to display your skills. Just because a website or infographic was required for your class, doesn’t mean it wasn’t professional level work. And chances are if your instructor thought it was great, a potential employer would too. Even if your final submission for a project wasn’t of professional quality, you get feedback so that you can get it there and really show employers what you can do.
This leads me to another point that Conor made, which was that it is important to put in work outside of class. If you only do the work that’s assigned, you will come out with a set number of projects and you’ll only learn from the syllabus. But it’s really important to get life experience and see what kinds of problems and solutions pop up in the field. By working on projects outside of class, you can learn new skills that you can bring in to your class work. Not to mention it will definitely help to improve your creative thinking. In the professional world you’ll be working on what someone tells you to, but you may not have a lot of opportunities to pursue passion projects, or just fun, goofy projects. In graduate school you have the chance to not only do these projects, but combine your skills with all of the other students around you. Which brings me to Conors final, and in my mind, most crucial point: our biggest assets are each other.
We are all in the same boat as iMedia students, cruising towards a common goal. Chances are if one person is having a problem, someone else will be encountering the same issue and you can work it out together. Or perhaps they’ve already solved the problem and can teach you to do the same. But even more than just having a group of 31 study buddies, we all have different skillsets and life experiences. Just because I may be interested in web development, doesn’t mean I won’t come across a graphic design position that my classmate would be perfect for. Or maybe a few months after graduation if I’m still taking on the job search, one of my fellow alumni could have an opening at their place of employment and can help me get through the door.
The size of this program and the ways we get to interact every day are conducive to creating an extremely tight-knit community on our second floor, home away from home. Getting to hear from Conor about where this program has taken him and what it could do for my classmates and me was really helpful and reassuring as we head into the second half of the semester and move further into our job search.