Triple Threats

By Henry Kean – iMedia Class of 2014

The Doherty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership held its Triple Impact Challenge this past Thursday, in which four teams of iMedia students entered and two placed.

The challenge requires teams with ideas that solve a social or environmental problem, or simply a business idea, to present their idea to a panel of judges. Teams must research the problem, and show that their solution is viable while explaining how they plan on executing it.

Four teams of iMedia students took the Triple Impact Challenge by storm.

Four teams of iMedia students took the Triple Impact Challenge by storm.

With experience in research, design, web development, and presenting, it is no wonder that the iMedia students did so well. The ideas ranged from an after school program that would empower kids and get them involved in solving social issues, to an application allowing teachers to share resources for free. After the pitches the judges asked questions about the research that went into the project and how the teams would plan to execute them.

Something that was really unique about the iMedia student teams was not only the ability to answer the questions with informed and educated responses, but also the skills that they had to execute their ideas. For the applications that were proposed the judges would always ask who would develop them, and the iMedia students would always stand a little taller as they responded “we would”.

While many of us may not know where we will be after graduation. This challenge reinforced that the skills we are learning in the iMedia program are indispensible. Being able to propose a business idea and say confidently that you are the graphic designer, developer, and came up with the idea on your own from conducting research is something that very few people have the ability to do. But in this program, that is the standard. That’s part of the reason it’s so difficult to know where to look for jobs. Not because we don’t know what we want to do, but because we can do it all and that makes narrowing your options down to a specific position that much more difficult.

The good news is, if trying to narrow your path down is too tough, being your own boss and starting your own company is always an option. And if the results of the Triple Impact Challenge are any indication, iMedia students should have no problems in that department.

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Helpful Homecoming Advice

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.

iMedia Tailgate

Past and present students mingle along with faculty at the iMedia homecoming tailgate on Saturday

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.

iPhone 6, Dreadlocks, and the Power of iMedia

By Henry Kean, iMedia 2014-2015

As the tech community was recently set ablaze with the announcement of the new iPhone and Apple Watch, the iMedia students were assigned to read Jaron Lanier’s You Are Not A Gadget. While most readings thus far have described the incredible benefits technology and new media have provided society, Lanier tells a cautionary tale that warns of the potentially disastrous direction we are moving. At first it felt bizarre to read a book that, in some ways, bashes the fields and professions many of us are pursuing, but it also had a very refreshing and empowering effect.

 

Jaron Lanier opposes previous readings, but empowers the students.

Jaron Lanier opposes previous readings, but empowers the students.

As a psychology major in undergrad, I am new to almost everything that has been discussed in our classes so far. And as someone who grew up in a house with no cell service, and spent my summers at a camp where any technology outside of a headlamp was banned and the Internet was non-existent, I have always been a little weary of new technology. For example, while watching my fellow classmates hoot and holler about the incredible new Apple Watch, I couldn’t help but wonder how that will get in the way of face to face interactions. I agree technology can be a wonderful tool, but I also side with Lanier, that maybe things are starting to get out of hand in some aspects. If a friend is trying to have a serious conversation with me, and my wrist is buzzing and beeping, there is no way I can give that person what they need in that moment.

 

If it is not apparent, I was eating up what Lanier was laying down. I agreed with almost everything he was saying and felt like someone actually understood where I was coming from. But then I asked myself: Why is the guy who basically invented virtual reality discrediting his own field? Why am I getting so excited that he is discrediting the field I have chosen to pursue? And what in the world is that instrument he’s playing? As it turns out, I was falling victim to a psychological term called confirmation bias where you seek out sources that validate your feelings or opinions and ignore ones that are in opposition. I have studied how dangerous this phenomenon can be – even fatal in some cases – and once I realized what was happening, I quickly took a step back and reevaluated the situation.

 

I soon discovered that I was seeing the situation all wrong. Lanier wasn’t saying that new media and technologies are some sort of dastardly villain, nor was Professor Lackaff trying to play some sick joke to make us feel like we had taken the wrong life path. Instead, it was a charge, a sort of call to arms as we begin to grow and develop into interactive media professionals. When we come out of this program, we will be in charge of creating and distributing content to the world. Content that has become extremely important and influential in today’s society. According to Lanier, in some ways, we aren’t just learning to code a website or computer program. We’re not merely making videos and designing content. We’re learning skills to take the reigns of the digital world and drive it in any direction we choose.

 

While graduation may still be a long ways off, it is really inspiring to know that we are gaining the ability to go into a field that can enact huge societal change if we so choose. Sure, it may start slowly with a goofy resume project where the top of your head pops off, but this program is teaching us to apply what we’re learning in the classroom to our future, professional lives (or this really great blog post) and can be seen in previous classes’ capstone projects. But before I get too ahead of myself, I have to make it through Professor Lackaff’s literature review.