Campaign Kick-Off

By Marianne Brigola, Comm Career Advisor

Happy Homecoming 2015! This is a big year for the School of Communications. Today the School of Comm is hosting several events to promote several exciting changes coming over the next few years.

Every year for Homecoming, the School of Communications hosts an alumni welcome lunch on Friday, to welcome back our fabulous alumni. This is followed by the annual Alumni Wisdom Panel, coordinated by Nagatha Tonkins, School of Communications Director of Internships. This year’s panel includes iMedia alum, Conor Britain.

Last night at a gala in NYC hosted by Elon parent Brian Williams (yes, of NBC Nightly News), the School of Communications officially launched the public campaign for new facilities. The $15M campaign will provide funding for new communication facilities that will include new interactive media labs, a media-analytics lab, a renovated news station, a 250-seat theater, as well as classroom spaces and faculty offices.

Check out the new School of Communications buildings below!

 

 

Finding Direction

By Marianne Brigola, Comm Career Advisor

compassAs you’ve been reading in the fantastic blog posts from our current iMedia students, the fall semester is in full swing over here at Elon. Students are in the midst of class, homework and also figuring out what they want to do with their Interactive Media degree. Everyone is different–there are students who know exactly what it is they want to do after graduation and others who are still exploring different industries and jobs.

I’ve already met with several iMedia students to start helping them plan for their job search in the spring. If you’re still trying to figure out how you want to use your new interactive media skills and knowledge, there are two things you need to do: Research + Network

1. Research. Our graduates go on to work in so many different industries with a variety of roles. Some are in client services roles, others on the creative side. Some work in marketing, others work freelance. A few ago, Katie wrote a blog post about our 2014 graduates and some of the great work they’re doing.

Here are a few other websites that can help you start learning more about titles + their job descriptions:

http://www.firebrandtalent.com/resources/job-descriptions

http://www.aaaa.org/agency/compensation/resources/jobs/pages/default.aspx

http://creativeskillset.org/creative_industries

http://www.paladinstaff.com/jobs/careers/

http://css-tricks.com/job-titles-in-the-web-industry/

In addition to researching job titles, you should be researching industries and companies. Would you prefer to work in marketing, or advertising, or public relations? Is a smaller, start-up agency your dream organization or would you like to work for a larger, more established firm? If you’re targeting a specific city after graduation–what companies are located in that city? A quick Google search can help you start building a list of potential target organizations.

2. Network. We talk a lot about how important networking is as a job search strategy–and it’s also important to help you figure out what you’re going to do next in your career! You can learn a lot about a company or a job by looking at their website or reading a job description, but you won’t learn if it’s a good fit for you until you actually talk to someone working at that organization or doing that type of work. LinkedIn makes it so easy for you to find alumni or contacts in a particular industry or job role. Elon University has over 19,000 students + alumni on LinkedIn. That’s 19,000 contacts you could potentially reach out to!  If you’re just getting started on LinkedIn, check LinkedIn’s tips for getting your profile set up.

Don’t forget to go outside of the digital world too–follow up with guest speakers from classes, attended conferences and expos, participate in local meet ups or networking events. The Triangle American Marketing Association and the Triangle Interactive Marketing are examples of two local professional associations that host many networking and educational events in the area several times a year.

Researching potential career options and networking with professionals are the two key things to helping you determine what you’re going to do with your interactive media degree after graduation! Start now to help you focus your job search in the spring. –MA

That Awkward Conversation: Talking Money.

By Marianne Brigola, Com Career Advisor

I remember when I got my first job offer after graduate school. I was days away from graduation, targeting a specific geographic location and stressed out about graduating without a job. When I got the call with the offer, they essentially said: “We’d like to hire you as a _____ and pay you $_____. What do you think?” I was so thrilled that someone was offering me a job that the first thing out of my mouth was, “Of course I’ll take it!”

Yikes.  Looking back now, I know I should have played it a bit cooler and taken the time to think about the position before accepting the offer. While the job was ideal, and definitely one I knew I wanted–I probably could have done more research to make sure my salary was comparable for the position (spoiler: it was not).

photo credit: Tax Credits via photopin cc

photo credit: Tax Credits via photopin cc

 

It’s so exciting to get that job offer, but talking salary can be awkward. You don’t want to ask for too much but you want to be compensated fairly. As the I-Media students are wrapping up their program and going on interviews, here are a few things to consider as you evaluate job offers:

 

 

Your job offer is a package. In addition to your annual salary, you want to make sure you consider other things that are included in your compensation: health benefits, vacation, flex-time, educational benefits, etc. The number on your paycheck isn’t the only thing you’ll be receiving from your employer.

Do your research. You need to reflect on whether your salary offer is fair taking into consideration the job itself as well as the cost of living for where it’s located. Your money will go much further in some cities rather than others. PayScale, CNN Money and NerdWallet all have cost of living calculators that can help you compare different cities. Some also provide info about housing costs, groceries, etc.

Having a general sense of the typical salary for someone with the same position. This is a bit trickier–some titles in different companies and industries may be the called the same thing but have completely different responsibilities, seniority levels, etc. Glassdoor, PayScale, Salary.com are all great resources that you can use to start researching salary information. Some collect data from employers, others are anonymously self-reported. Some other resources for salaries within the digital and interactive industries are available here, as an infographic. The Creative Group is a staffing agency specifically for interactive, design and creative talent. They recently posted their 2014 Salary Guide, as well as a salary calculator

Know Your Worth. Be sure you understand what you’re bringing to the table in terms of knowledge and skills, and how you’ll be contributing to the organization. Do you have special experiences or skills beyond what they’re looking for that will be vital to the employer?

Salary is always a tricky topic to bring up during the job search process–but it’s so important to make sure you’re starting off with a fair salary since it serves as the jumping point for any future raises or even your future jobs. Being prepared and doing your homework will help make that conversation easier when you’re having that conversation with your future boss.

 

 

Be Connected: Day of Professional Development 2014

By Marianne Brigola, Comm Career Advisor

Kudos to the iMedia ’14 students, iMedia alumni, faculty and employers who joined us last Friday for this year’s Day of Professional Development, iMedia’s annual spring event that connects current iMedia students with employers and alumni.

Shout out to Nikki Schell (iMedia '14) for the fantastic program design!

Shout out to Nikki Schell (iMedia ’14) for the fantastic program design!

Each year the event looks a little different, and each year iMedia students benefit from some great advice from our panel participants and alumni.

This year’s panel included:

Conor Britain, iMedia ’10, Interactive Designer at RED Interactive

Angela Connor, Group Director, Senior Vice-President at Capstrat

Tracy Lathan, Account Strategist at Clairemont Communications

Amanda Sparks, Recruiter at Response Mine Interactive

Panelist gave some great advice on everything from trends in the industry, what interactive media technology their organization uses, and advice on the job search + interviewing process.

Photo by iMedia alum Juanita Wrenn @wrennworks

Panel Photo by iMedia ’13 alum Juanita Wrenn @wrennworks

 

Also, thanks to all our iMedia alums who came back to Elon to share their advice with students at the networking lunch:

Juanita Wrenn, ’13

Alan Buck ’13

Kelsey Sullivan ’13

Lindsey Huston Cook ’12

 

 

At the lunch, current iMedia students were able to mingle with the employers and alumni to ask more questions about the industry and navigating the job search.

This event wouldn’t be possible without the fabulous Maggie Mullikin planning the event–coordinating everything from panelists to alumni guests to catering! Thanks Maggie!

Some advice from the boss

By Marianne Brigola, Com Career Advisor

No, I’m not talking about Bruce Springsteen here.  Each year, the Student Professional Development Center hosts Professional Discovery Week, featuring a week of programming covering a broad spectrum of career topics, including networking, life after Elon, graduate school and industry-specific topics.

 This year, the School of Communications hosted a panel of employers who shared their advice to students about what it takes to stand out as a new employee. This years’ panel included:

Each of our panel members supervise entry-level employees and interns in their respective companies. Panelists spoke on everything from applying for work to starting off strong on your first day.  Some great advice they shared included:

Know how you’re branding yourself: All the panelists agreed that once someone works for them, that person also represents their company and their social media presence was a key factor in the hiring decision. Formica said that he looks at social media accounts even before taking a look at someone’s resume.

Showing your skills is more valuable that just telling someone about them. Resumes are great, but even more important is samples of your work. Milton said he often hears from applicants who apply with the intention of building their portfolio with the position—the ones who get hired are the ones with existing clips and samples that demonstrate the skills they’re claiming to have. For iMedia students, this might be done with your resume and more importantly with your electronic portfolio.

Stand out in your application. When you’re applying to jobs you want to stand out, but don’t overlook simple, effective ways to stand out. When Genszler was looking for jobs, she mailed in physical copies of her resume. She heard back from more employers with this strategy, often with signed letters that provided her with a company contact to follow up with. She landed her first job using this strategy.

Once you start. Be resourceful + decisive. Panelists all agreed that while you can use the excuse of being “new” for a few weeks, that doesn’t mean you should be lackadaisical or passive when it comes to learning what you need for the job, meeting new people at your company and showing that you’re ready to work. Wesson emphasized the importance of being true to how you presented yourself at the interview. If you’re claiming to be driven—demonstrate it! Don’t show up at 9 and then leave immediately at the end of the day.

Be comfortable and continue to grow where you are. This is particularly important for those who have not yet had their first professional, full-time work experience. In school you get used to a cycle of classes, a summer break and then a new change once the school year starts. Once you leave college, that’s not always the case–you may find yourself in the same job/role for one, two, three years or more. This can be difficult for some to adjust to, particularly if they are in their first year out of college or graduate school. Formica emphasized the importance of being comfortable in a role and recognizing that change doesn’t always come as quickly as it did in college. Recognize this and take active steps to improve your skills and knowledge so that you are ready for that next opportunity when it arrives.

A Different Way of Telling Your Story

By Marianne Brigola, Career Advisor for School of Communications

With all the free time available between classes, projects, assignments and getting ready for the Winter Term fly-in trips (!!!), some iMedia students have started thinking about getting ready to apply what they’ve learned in the classes to the next step in their career and preparing for their job search. As you’re updating your resumes to reflect your new experiences + skills, many students are considering telling their story in a different, more creative way.

Resumes are a tool for sharing your professional journey–your experiences, interests, skills + passion.  In the more creative and interactive fields that our iMedia alumni pursue, creative resumes as a means to stand out are becoming increasingly popular. These resumes can take on the form of infographics, websites geared towards targeted companies or interactive, multimedia resumes. Below are a few things to consider as you’re planning out your own creative way to tell your story.

  1. Know your audience. You might be targeting a specific company or a specific industry. You might be targeting a specific job title. If you’re seeking a position in marketing, advertising, etc., a more creative resume tells your story but also demonstrates your skills.
  2. Make a strong visual impact. In traditional resume documents, we talk a lot about readibility, white space, elements that draw the eye. With creative resumes, you have so much more freedom to make that same visual impact with things like color, graphics, maps, charts etc. Be intentional and mindful in what information you include and how you choose to present it.
  3. Keep it simple + easy to read. It’s easy to get caught up in adding your entire life story when you’re not necessarily restricting yourself to any page limit. Whether you’re creating an infographic or a website, the information should be organized, easy to read and easy to navigate. Categories, headings etc, are ways that you can group + organize your information to make it easy for the potential employer to find what they’re looking for.
  4. Keep a traditional Word document version of your resume. Not all employers will accept a more creative resume. If you have a direct contact to submit your materials to, emailing a link to your website or an attachment of your infographic is simple to do. If you need to apply though a company website, many times you’re limited in terms of format and structure–a traditional resume will be needed to supplement your creative document.

Design is an extremely important aspect of creative resumes; but don’t forget to focus on the creating strong content as well. A creative resume is a great way to make a strong, first impression–being intentional + critical of your final product will help ensure that you’re making a positive first impression.

Making Connections: First Contact

By Marianne Brigola, Career Advisor for the School of Communications

Congratulations iMedia students! Y’all made it through the half-way point of the first semester. Today is the first day back from fall break! At this point, everyone is in the midst of the craziness that is graduate school. Classes are in full swing, Fly-In assignments were recently announced and on top of that many of you are starting to get serious about your job search. I’ve met with several iMedia students already + have gotten requests from others to connect with them on LinkedIn.

The majority of iMedia students are probably exploring career options–still trying to learn what they’re interested in, what type of career might be the best fit for them, what skills they’re learning in the program that is the most exciting for them. One of the best ways to learn more about careers + companies is to engage in some informational interviewing and networking! But once you find someone to reach out to–how do you make first contact? Below are some tips to increase the success of your first message/email:

Personalized messages increase your chances of getting a response

Start with a specific subject line: Professionals are busy people–provide them with context about your message even before they open it. “Interested in learning about your role as Web Developer” will inspire more curiosity from the reader that “Informational Interview request”

Introduce Yourself + Purpose: Again, context + personalization is key here. How did you find this person? Did you do a search on LinkedIn, get referred to them by a mutual contact, come across their profile in a group? Let them know how you’re connected. Once you’ve established that–why are you writing. Get to the main point of your message quickly. The shorter + more concise your message is, the better. This potential contact doesn’t have the time to read your entire biography in the first message. This should be more about what you hope to learn from them.

Close the deal + Say Thank You: At the end of an interview, you’ll sometimes hear that it’s important to make sure you close with “The Ask:” When will I hear from you? What are the next steps in this process?  In the first message to a contact, the same principle applies. Make sure you remember to ask for some of their time to learn about their company/role/background, etc. Be specific–how much of their time do you want + how do you want it (typically a 15-20 minute phone interview is a good start). You don’t want to ask for too much of their time and increase the chances of them replying with “No, I don’t have that much time.” And of course, be sure to be gracious and thank them in advance–for reading your message and responding.