Experience iMedia

by Lindsey Huston, iMedia class of 2012

It seems like yesterday I was putting on my black cap and gown, both nervous and excited for what lay ahead. The ceremony was outside, and the South Carolina humidity both fogged up my brain and clung my commencement robe to my body. That moment was on May 22, 2011, and I was graduating from Wofford College.

One month from today, I’ll be in a similar moment. Although I’m thankful the Elon iMedia graduation ceremony will be inside, I’ll once again be wearing a cap and gown while pondering the future. With this moment quickly approaching, I find myself trying to remember one thing: What did I originally hope to get out of the iMedia experience?

It’s easy to get bogged down, distracted by the minute details of everyday tasks. (Lately, these moments occur while editing with After Effects or when waking up after a dream about JavaScript.) But it’s important to remember the purpose of our actions and take time to really experience them.

An example of a duo that’s taken the time to experience all that iMedia has to offer are the co-founders of Twin Stripe Magazine. Alison Harshbarger and Katie Williamsen, two of my classmates, published their first issue of the magazine in the fall. The interactive online magazine is seasonal, and it highlights styling, parties, and décor.

Katie Williamsen & Alison Harshbarger, Twin Stripe Co-Founders

This semester, they committed to making their magazine even more interactive. Instead of using a pre-made magazine platform, they listened to iMedia coordinator Brad Berkner’s advice and created their own HTML5 and CSS framework for their spring issue. Katie comments, “The iMedia program gave us the push we needed to take Twin Stripe outside of the box and explore new possibilities. We were doing what was safe and standard, but now we have developed something exciting and different. The possibilities for the future are endless.”

I’ve seen the hard work and creative energy that’s been put into this magazine, and I’m amazed at how much its creators have accomplished on top of our heavy coursework. Twin Stripe is definitely a product of individuals willing to truly experience all that they can as Elon Interactive Media students. I was lucky enough to be asked to edit the magazine’s copy and, in the latest edition, contribute an article on Fiestaware.

Twin Stripe's spring issue is colorfully creative

To those entering the program this summer, I urge you to commit to your time at Elon and truly experience iMedia. And to my fellow soon-to-be-graduates, good luck during our remaining month!

Rewarding Experiences

By LINDSEY HUSTON, iMedia class of 2012

Powell is full of energy as my classmates and I attempt to get as much out of this semester as possible. For me, the past seven weeks have been filled with portfolio work, an internship, information meetings, coursework and a capstone project. Spring break is in sight and, although I am happy with my progress, there’s always more to be done.

My most rewarding experience of the semester thus far has been working as an Four Seasons Magazine Editorial Intern at Pace Communications. I get to see first-hand the work the magazine’s online managing editor, Susan Stegemann, and one of the magazine’s associate editors, Callie Young. They have me writing articles, researching, fact checking, and working with WordPress and search engine optimization. It’s a nice change of pace to see practical applications of skills taught in the iMedia program, and it doesn’t hurt that I get to spend my days researching and writing about places we’d all love to explore, such as Bora Bora.

A rewarding experience several of my classmates recently added to their iMedia experience was a trip to Austin, Texas for SXSW Interactive. Cassie GoodingChris KirkhamAnne McNultyBrandy StearnsJessica Torrez-Riley, and Lou Tufillaro won a competition to be sent to the conference last semester. Other iMedia classmates joined them, and you can read about their experiences here.

If anyone needs motivation to push through their final weeks of hard work here at Elon, Lou Tuffilaro offers validation for those pursuing careers in interactive media. He described SXSW “the center of the universe” and said this experience affirmed for him that “iMedia graduate students made an excellent choice in choosing this industry.” With ten weeks left until our graduation in May, I think I can speak for my classmates when saying these are welcome words.

iMedia Crossroad

By LINDSEY HUSTON, iMedia class of 2012

“There’s fifteen weeks left in the program,” Professor Motley reminded my capstone class today. It’s hard to believe, but with second semester starting, my classmates and I are at a crossroad. I still find myself reflecting on the success of the fly-in groups with our non-profit clients during January, but I know it’s time to submerge myself into second semester.

My fly-in group outside of Reykjavik, Iceland

The fly-in experience is arguably the most rewarding aspect of the iMedia program. My fly-in group, comprised of seven classmates and me, spent nine days in Reykjavík, Iceland learning about Your Priorities, the Citizens Foundation’s web service used to promote online, democratic debate to improve communities. Our goal was to clarify the non-profit’s mission and promote their success, in order to reach a larger, international audience. After our nine days in Reykjavík, my group worked 10 days on Elon’s campus in order to achieve this goal.

We created a social media strategy, six promotional videos, a mission statement, new English copy, and a redesigned WordPress website. My classmates and I naturally fell into roles within our group, and I was our content manager. I worked with our clients to rewrite their mission statement, English copy on their website, and helped the social media team write a strategy plan. Video editing was a main task once we returned to Elon, and we all edited using Final Cut Pro X and After Effects. I’m proud to say our clients described our work as “excellent” and “some even close to perfect”, but I’m prouder that we spread the mission of the Citizens Foundation.

Looking ahead, this semester looks vastly different from first semester. With more room in the curriculum for autonomy, I’m beginning an internship with Pace Communications, a capstone project, and a job search. After seeing what my classmates and I were able to accomplish with our fly-in groups, I can’t wait to see what we’re able to accomplish in all of our pursuits this semester!

Take Advice to Heart and Look to the Future

By Lindsey Huston, iMedia class of 2012

My classmates and I are in week eleven of fall semester and, although my mind is cluttered with all I have left to do in the semester, I find myself even more excited about all that’s ahead in the iMedia program. Outside of my course work this semester, I’ve had a gamut of other things to plan and contemplate. Dr. Copeland spoke recently about next semester courses. I’m looking forward to my fly-in to Reykjavik, Iceland, where seven classmates and I will work with The Citizens Foundation during the month of January. Also, several area professionals have take the time to give me career advice, reminding me of my passions and goals I’m working towards.

Although it’s important for my classmates and I to submerge ourselves in our course work for the year that we’re iMedia students, it’s also important to remember the relevance our new skills will have in our future careers. This is why I’m thankful for the insight I’ve received from area professionals during this semester, because seeing their passion has driven me to find my own niche in the field of interactive media.

 

Bettina Johnson

As Maggie mentioned in her blog two weeks ago, Bettina Johnson graduated from the iMedia program in May of 2011. She happily found a place at Pace Communications in Greensboro the summer after graduation, working as an interactive content editor and online community manager. I was lucky enough to discuss her time as an iMedia student and her career during an informational meeting we had back in September. Bettina initially interested me, because her undergraduate degree, from Elon, was in journalism. As someone interested in writing, I was curious as to how Bettina transitioned her skills from traditional journalism to working in the field of Interactive Media.

After working for print news, at the Gaston Gazette in Charlotte, and in web development, at Newfangled Web Factory in Carrboro, Bettina decided to add to her digital skills by returning to Elon to get her MA in Interactive Media. I was struck by Bettina’s openness and enthusiasm for her career. She shared, “It’s great to have a job you enjoy and put all your energy into!” Bettina took advantage of her time as an iMedia student, and it’s inspiring to see someone with similar interests as me doing what they love.

 

Ryan Helmstetler

I met with Ryan Helmstetler in October. When Ryan was an undergrad, he had plans of becoming an accountant. He realized his passions fell elsewhere, however, and he is now an account executive for Texas Pete at The Sales Factory in Greensboro. Ryan loves his job as an account executive, because it enables him to “touch every piece” of the Sale Factory’s relationship with Texas Pete and he is able to travel. Curious about advertisement agency life, I was thankful to hear a perspective from work at a smaller agency.

The atmosphere at the Sales Factory was both lively and intimate, and it was beneficial to hear the pros and cons of working for small and large agencies. Ryan also discussed social media strategy, and specifically how beneficial Facebook is to Texas Pete. In 2009 the Sales Factory launched a Facebook campaign with 10,000 samples distributed through Facebook engagement ads and the Texas Pete Facebook page. The Sales Factory projected the samples to be distributed over four weeks, but the campaign gained so much popularity the samples were gone in six days. Ryan emphasized, “You can’t generate sales without research.” It is clear to me that the Texas Pete Facebook campaign was well researched, and that Ryan is passionate about his job. Interested in advertising, I am thankful to have received insight into the world of an advertising agency.

  

Jessica Byerly

Two weeks at ago, Jessica Byerly discussed with me all she does at G-Force Marketing Solutions in Greensboro. Jessica is a digital marketing strategist who considers herself somewhat of an anomaly. Although she is the often viewed as an IT resource at G-Force, she happily lives on a farm with her husband and child and is passionate about both farm animals and Twitter. I was pleasantly surprised to get the chance to hear from someone living out multiple passions, both in lifestyle and career, and I got to see first hand the time she puts into account analytics.

Similar to my interest in Bettina’s journalism past, I was curious when listening to Jessica’s story because she transitioned from a career in traditional, print journalism into a career in digital technology and analytics. Jessica loves her job, and is persistent in keeping up with her field that is “constantly changing”. She describes her main responsibility at G-Force as dealing with numbers, and she showed me the pages and pages of reports she produces to confirm the best return of investment for clients, in regards to how G-Force is marketing their brand. Jessica told me, “There has not been one morning I have woken up and not been excited to come into work at G-Force.” This is the kind of passion I’m looking for in a career, and it has been refreshing to hear from so many individuals passionate about their careers in interactive media.

 

As we are now in November, my classmates and I look ahead to final semester projects, papers, etc. However, it’s important to look even further ahead. Although we should live consciously in the moment, in order to soak in as much as we can from iMedia, I also can’t help but to have hope for a future career, using my skills from iMedia, that is as fulfilling as the careers of the professionals I’ve received insight from during this past semester.

“Curiosity, Passion, and Endurance”

By Lindsey Huston, iMedia class of 2012

“Curiouser and curiouser.”

-Alice, from Lewis Carol’s Alice in Wonderland

The rabbit hole of knowledge in the interactive media field is infinitely deep. This is the metaphor Kim Williams, a Client Service Manager at BEM Group, Inc. in Greensboro, left me with after our information meeting this past week. Mr. Williams was referring specifically to the field of interactive marketing, but I found his metaphor applicable to the general field of interactive media as well.

The Interactive Media class of 2012 is three weeks into fall semester, and I know my classmates join me in the feeling of unrestrained curiosity. With creative assignments, research proposals, and capstone projects to contemplate, it’s easy to get caught up thinking about the overwhelming, yet exciting, assortment  of directions we may pursue in our career futures. Knowledge relating to my courses is infinitely deep, cluttering my head with a variety of undeveloped ideas. This made my information meeting with Mr. Williams a welcome one. Sharing his story with me, he offered direction and hope I will now share with my classmates or anyone interested in the interactive media field.

Reach Out.

This has been said on this blog before, but positive personal experience is the best reinforcement of any advice. I reached out to Mr. Williams for many reasons, including his sales career in the interactive marketing industry. His job, as a Client Service Manager for BEM Group, Inc., is to help companies successfully position themselves in the digital market. As an effective public speaker, he educates Fortune 500 companies and small companies on how to obtain an online presence and how to utilize social media. He also has a passion for blogging. 

With my own interest in marketing, social media, and blogging, I knew Mr. Williams would be a great resource. The decisive factor in pressing send on my LinkedIn message to him, however, was that he is a fellow alum of Wofford College. It’s always great to connect with a fellow Terrier, but it’s also comforting to talk to someone with a similar frame of reference. Further, if I had not asserted myself I would have missed out on the great advice he is willing to offer.

Mr. Williams was a Religion major who worked as a pastor for fifteen years. After his time with the United Methodist Church, he needed a change and found a passion for the sales industry. As a Philosophy major myself, I found it reassuring that he finds the skills he gained from his background relevant in his current career. We both share a writing-intensive, liberal arts background, with passion for communication and writing. He sees these skills as beneficial in both sales and interactive marketing, and this is reassuring to hear from someone with real career experience.

We have the opportunity to be innovators.

“You are the ones that are going to define this extremely rapidly changing industry.”

This was how Mr. Williams responded when I explained the Interactive Media program.

I believe in the importance of this statement. With a background in sales, Mr. Williams integrated social media into his life due to his own curiosity. Upon taking his job with BEM two years ago, he learned the required technology knowledge base necessary for his position. BEM Group was founded in 1996 rooted in Information Technology. Since then, it has transformed into a company with divisions of BEM TechnologyBEM Interactive, and BEM Education Center.

Mr. Williams’ genuine curiosity for interactive media acquired him a great career. However, he believes my classmates and I are in a unique situation in the Interactive Media Program. With our education and change in interactive media occurring within hours, it’s amazing to think of what my classmates and I can accomplish in the future.

After our information meeting, my goal is to keep an open imagination while maintaining specific focus on my goal of a career involving interactive marketing.

Do what you love.

Mr. Williams’ advice supports this cliché. He described his love for sales saying he loves “helping people get what they want in spite of themselves.” He also loves working with a variety of people on a day-to-day basis. Likewise, he reaffirmed that interactive marketing is an industry I would love by describing its conceptual work  and fast change of pace.

Most importantly, Mr. Williams left me with three tips for surviving the sales or interactive marketing industries. He said curiosity is “…more important than anything else…but importance also comes with passion and incredible endurance.”

Like Alice looking down the infinite rabbit hole into Wonderland, it’s safe to say my classmates and I have the essential curiosity for the infinite interactive media knowledge. However, it’s up to each one of us to follow the advice I received and follow our passions with endurance. It’s an exciting road ahead for the Interactive Media class of 2012, and I’m thankful for the advice I received so early into our fall semester!