Farewell, iMedia 2011

BY MEGHAN GARGAN, ELON IMEDIA CLASS OF 2011

So it’s finally here – my iMedia farewell. While thinking about what I wanted to write I realized that it all came down to one thing: saying thank you. In addition to my parents, my family and my friends (both new and old) that have stuck with me through these last 10-months, I owe a big thank you to those who have made the iMedia experience what it is. Once you’ve been a part of this program (as I’m sure you have all applied and been accepted by now!) you’ll understand why these people deserve the equivalent of the iMedia Oscar.

To Ross Wade who was a never-ending supply of resources, optimism and support while we struggled to figure out what career we wanted and then helped us achieve those goals.  You’re a rockstar.

To Maggie Mullikin who served as our sanity, shrink and, at times, savior. Words can’t express enough how much you mean to all of us and how you’ve helped us grow into who we are today – confident career-going iMedians!

To Brad Berkner who I personally owe a huge thank you to for sitting with me the first two months of fall semester patiently walking me through my weekly Flash projects, you’re guidance and friendship has helped all of us succeed and for that we can’t thank you enough.

To Sang Um Nam who may be the smartest person I know. Thank you for always supporting us and helping us not only gain technology confidence, but showing us that we are capable of solving problems on our own. And, of course, thanks for the amazing Korean BBQ, to this day it’s the best meal I’ve ever had.

To Phillip Motley who made us realize we are all artists and designers in one way or another. Who inspired us and pulled us through that first semester with his classroom chats and explaining to us that we would see the light in the spring. (Amen, brother!)

To Dr. Copeland who gave us the flexibility to run with this program and let us do what we needed to do to make the most of our experience. You always made us see that there was a bright and brilliant future for us.

Additionally, huge a THANK YOU to all the iMedia admissions, staff and faculty. We could not have done this without all of you.

As my final farewell, I’ll leave you with this: the future of the interactive media industry is filled with endless possibilities. When you enter this program you may feel out of your league or that you’ll never gain the skills or confidence to be who you want to be. I’m here to tell you can. Come in here with a vision and have the confidence to see it through. Find what you love, make it happen and everything will work out. This is coming from a student who has been there and seen it all. It now comes from a recently employed, iMedia alum who is ready to take on the world.

So here it is, the official passing of the iMedia baton, which one of you will be next in chronicling the iMedia journey?

iMedia 2011: The Final Push

BY MEGHAN GARGAN, ELON IMEDIA CLASS OF 2011

With a handful of weeks left until graduation there is one word on every iMedia student’s mind: Capstone.

iMedia capstone projects are the equivalent of a traditional graduate school thesis, except instead of turning in an outrageously long-winded research document, we take our research, knowledge and skills and apply it to an interactive project or representation.

What’s unique about the capstone project is that it challenges us students to think beyond a MS Word document and to visually see and express our findings and discoveries. It’s actually pretty cool.

Right now we are all working against a May 18 deadline, which is when the iMedia Expo takes place. At this event industry professionals, alumni, students and faculty are invited to come learn about what exactly the 30+ iMedia students have been doing while locked up in Powell the last four months (disclaimer: locked up by choice, not by force).

In addition to showcasing our work, the class is also in charge of the event. We are currently dividing into groups to design the invitations, assign and coordinate the space, create social networking channels, shoot and edit a video reel and develop and design an expo site. It’s the first time the entire class is working together in a mini-agency setting with a divide and concur mindset.

Stay tuned to the Eye on iMedia blog for more details on the expo and on the capstone projects. In the mean time, enjoy a few suggestions for when it comes to defining and deciding on a capstone project.

  1. Play to your strengths. If you know you want to be a strategist or project manager pick a project that reflects this – you don’t HAVE to code a website. For example, you could team up with a classmate who is perhaps a coding wiz and would like the extra portfolio piece while you do the content and design, same goes vice versa.
  2. Take on new challenges. While concentrating on your strengths, capstone is the perfect time to develop new skills or areas of interest. If there’s something you want to learn, now is a great time to do it.
  3. Scale your project accordingly. This is your master’s thesis and probably your most important portfolio piece, so you want it to be extraordinary. At the same time don’t bite off more than you can chew. Remember you have four months to complete the project and you want it to be something that shows off your talents. It’s temping to take on a massive endeavor, but sometimes a smaller-scale project done exceptionally well is more impressive than an unfinished or low-quality huge undertaking.
  4. Pick something you are passionate about. You’re going to be working on this all semester, so pick something you are genuinely interested in. This project, at times, will consume your life, so don’t develop an SEO strategy or take on coding a website if it’s not something you can see yourself doing professionally. Remember, this is your biggest selling point and you’ve dedicated a whole lot of time to making it great – be sure it’s something you love and that will shine through.

Tweet-Cred: The Social Job Hunt

BY MEGHAN GARGAN, ELON IMEDIA CLASS OF 2011

It’s officially March iMedia Madness, which means that in addition to classes, capstones and portfolios –  the job-hunt is on. Many of us are putting finishing touches on portfolios, resumes and cover letters as we prepare to launch a full-on attack on the interactive industry.

On a personal note, a lot has changed since I first entered the work world in 2008, including learning about job openings and making personal connections with companies and employers.  One tool that I’ve found to be incredibly useful in seeking out employment opportunities is Twitter. So here are my top four tips on leveraging this social network to land your own dream job.

1. Brand yo-self

First things first – make sure your Twitter account is in tip-top shape. That means using a professional picture, writing a catchy and informative 140-character bio (include a link to a blog or portfolio!), and making sure your tweets are interesting and informative.

2. Following > Followers

A lot of people get caught up in how many followers they have versus how many people they are following. More times than not you’re going to follow more people than are following you – that’s OK. In fact, that’s great! This means you have more access to employers’ information streams, which is exactly what you want.

My recommendation? Follow the companies you are interested in working for. A lot of times employers are now tweeting job openings and if you check Twitter on a regular basis you could be one of the first to know – and to apply. Additionally, don’t just follow the company, follow the employees. This is a great way to make personal connections with the company, find out what the culture is like and establish your interest and passion for a particular job.

3. It’s all about Karma

Twitter is one huge ego-boost. Part of the thrill is being mentioned or retweeted (RT) by others. If there’s a particular job or company you want to work for, make sure to be engaged in their conversations by replying to company tweets or RT quality information or links. It shows that you are a team player and want to help expose their brand to the masses.

4. Content, content, content

No matter what platform you use, content is king. Twitter is a great place to mesh personality and professional interests – just make sure you know where the line is. Tweet content that is industry-related and interesting. You want to show that you are ahead of the trends and knowledgeable in the field. However, it’s not all work and no play! It’s okay (encouraged event) to include an occasional pop culture tweet or share something from your life via picture or link. For example, I shared a twitpic of one of our graduate classes being held in SecondLife. Let your personality shine – just don’t let it overshadow your professional knowledge.

Have more questions? Direct message (DM) or tweet at me: @meghangargan

Pura Vida: The Elon Experience

BY MEGHAN GARGAN, ELON IMEDIA CLASS OF 2011

Hola, readers! I have returned from my travels to Costa Rica and have so much to share with you all.

For those who may not know, Pura Vida is a common phrase in Costa Rica that encompass the “no worry, be happy” state of mind. It was something that I know I took to heart during my travels, as well as brought back with me to Elon.

There are so many things I could write about right now, but I guess I’ll just try to sum up the whole experience by saying these trips will change your life, enlighten how you think and alter the way you live. I can’t completely convey how good it feels to give back to an organization that truly needs our skills or to know that we are helping one little corner of the world.

Currently, we just finished presenting our interactive projects to a group of Elon faculty and students and it was amazing to see not only the technical progress of my classmates, but how everyone has changed due to his/her experiences. This may be “tooting our own horn,” but we have become an integrated part of bringing change, awareness and, hopefully, funding to these well-deserving non-profits.

This year clients ranged from an institution that focuses on sustainability in the humid tropics to an organization providing much needed services to the blind to a start-up non-profit encouraging recycling and good waste management to a foundation helping indigenous people seek out much needed medical treatment for those with disabilities.

Interactive projects ranged from creating English and Spanish accessible websites, to interactive brochures to websites developed with CMS (content management system) in mind. Groups are still adding the finishing touches to projects, but once they are completed I’ll be sure to share the links.

As part of our overall project, my group has also put together a mini-documentary that really demonstrates the fly-ins on a much greater and deeper level than I could ever do with just words. So, please enjoy the video below, edited by the great Drew Sykes.

As spring semester kicks off, I hope all us iMedia folks continue to live the Pura Vida lifestyle here at Elon and remember to be grateful for all the little things we have while working towards helping those in need.

New Year’s Resolutions – iMedia Style

BY MEGHAN GARGAN, ELON IMEDIA CLASS OF 2011

Happy 2011 from yours truly! While winter break was relaxing, us iMedia folks are jumping right back into the thick of things.

As many of you may have been able to guess from previous posts, Fly-Ins are RIGHT around the corner. In fact, take off is tomorrow with our two Panama groups up bright and early (4:30 am) to catch a shuttle to the airport with the remaining two groups heading to Costa Rica right behind them. Today we’ve spent a majority of the day packing and preparing for the iMedia project for public good, so as we gear up to start the new year off by giving back to in-need communities, I thought it might be fun to see what else some of my fellow classmates are hoping for in 2011.

Hence, I give you the iMedia Class of 2011 New Year’s resolutions! Enjoy.

In 2011 I plan to continue developing my skills and talents to hopefully land my dream job in Washington D.C.

–       Hayley Miller

My new year’s resolution is to have a better attitude towards Java Script!

–       Alison Hydrick

My new years resolution is to use everything I’ve learned to make a super awesome portfolio page.

–       John Hartley

This year I resolve to narrow down my interests to the job that I am most qualified for and most interested in, and apply for and find a job I will really enjoy.

–       Erika Holland

I want to develop the “Lars Bredahl” brand and build up my portfolio to help me find the job of my dreams!

–       Lars Bredahl

This year I want to focus on making the best choices when it comes to creating my capstone project as well making the most of my internship at Bluezoom. I want to be as prepared as possible come graduation in May.

–       Allie Boardman

I’d love to meet Felicia Day at South by Southwest (SXSW) as I am one of the fortunate iMedia students representing the program at this year’s conference.

–       Mich Donovan

As for moi? In 2011 I want to continue to expand my networking base through capstone partnerships, industry conferences and doing incredible work for organizations both here and abroad — all in hopes that it will lead me to an incredible future career.

How about you? What are you planning to accomplish in 2011? Perhaps apply (and attend) a multimedia-rich, interactive media graduate program? That sounds pretty good to me.

Costa Rica State of Mind

BY MEGHAN GARGAN, ELON IMEDIA CLASS 2011

Let me be the first to say Happy Holidays from all of us here at Eye on iMedia! With the end of first semester only a few short weeks away, the students in the program are hardly taking a break! While we’re continuing to wrap up projects and prepare for finals, we’ve also started to plan and prepare for the upcoming Winter Term Fly-In, which focuses on creating an interactive project for the public good.

Every Winter Term (which lasts the month of January), the students of iMedia have the fantastic opportunity to give back to international non-profit organizations who want to expand their digital presence through the use of interactive media. For 10 days, four groups of students – two journeying to Panama and the remainder heading to opposite coasts of beautiful Costa Rica – will travel abroad to meet each client and gather content, which will be used once we return to help build an interactive website aimed at spreading awareness of each organization. Check out one of last year’s awesome sites!

However, the fly-in’s aren’t all work! While abroad, each group of students have once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to explore the jungles and cultures of each respective country (for example, my Costa Rica group is scheduled to frolic on the Caribbean coast in addition to exploring a local volcano…what’s life without a little danger, I ask?)

I have to admit that in addition to my excitement at the prospect of warmer temperatures (and volcano climbing) during the dead of winter, I’m also looking forward to working with a group of highly talented people – my classmates. Within each group, students have been able to pinpoint their strengths and take on roles accordingly. For example, on my trip I’ll focus on project management and content generation. Others are responsible for interactive design, informational design, artistic direction and layout design. However, the best part? While each of us is able to hone in on areas of the interactive process that interest us, the fly-ins are treated as a learning experience, which translates to everyone will have an opportunity to do everything from gathering content to developing Flash components to building the structural HTML/CSS foundation that will host the site.  It’s a time for individual and group growth and to learn from each other to build the best interactive project possible (and for such well-deserving organizations).

I see that I’ve begun to ramble, but really this is only a chunk of the information I could share about our upcoming trips.  It’s an exciting time and groups have already begun to bond over group dinners, create t-shirts/group logos and have made it a point and a priority to learn as much as possible (and share that knowledge with each other) before take-off in January.  There may even be a bit of friendly competition and a definite eagerness to see what all the groups produce.

So, while we’re still racing towards that first semester finish line, we’re also keeping our iMedia eye on the prize and planning to take our new skills and use them to better one little corner of the world…which I have to say, is a pretty satisfying feeling already.

Allow myself to introduce…myself

By Meghan Gargan, Elon iMedia Class 2011

 

Well, hello blogosphere! It’s Fall Break here at Elon University, which means I have some extra time to relax, get ahead on class work and, most importantly, contemplate how I should begin my first blog post as the current student rep for the iMedia graduate program…I have a tough life, I know.

When sitting down to write this post I tried to put myself back into the prospective student frame of mind. What were my key questions this time last year as I was preparing to submit my application? What would I want to ask a current student? I’ll be honest, I probably had a five-page list of questions (not including informal follow-ups), so I won’t be able to address everything in this first post, but I am going to try to tackle all the big ones as I continue my iMedia journey.

I thought we could skip all formalities (but if you want to learn more about me check out my bio on the iMedia home page) and jump right into the juicy stuff!

As of last week, we are officially half way through first semester (high-fives all around), and it feels unreal. Ever since I moved to the Elon area in August to participate in the Boot Camp Workshop, it feels like time has completely gotten away from me – next thing you know it’ll be May and I’ll be passing the Eye on iMedia blog baton – but let’s not get ahead ourselves, we’ve barely begun to get to know each other.

In the last seven weeks I think I’ve learned more than I did in my entire undergraduate career (and I was no slacker). We’ve covered a majority of the software programs in the Adobe Creative Suite 5 package as well as made an impressive dent when it comes understanding interactive and communications strategy and theory. Both the theoretical and practical components are essential when it comes to understanding the interactive media industry as a whole, not to mention it makes you a pretty darn attractive job candidate post-graduation. The truth is, there really is something here for everyone including those who want to be a media producer (think Flash, HTML/CSS) and those who want to go the project management route (think design and layout strategy and function).

Not only are the classes relevant and interesting, but I’ve landed pretty spectacular classmates that come from a wide-range of educational backgrounds and professional experiences, which is another great resource. You’ll find in this program everyone has their strengths and their weaknesses (nobody is the BEST at everything) and we’ve all quickly learned to help and work with each other if we want to succeed.

So that’s my short’n sweet overview of the program, where we are thus far and the perks of being an iMedia student. Looking forward I’ve got a couple big weeks ahead of me with projects and papers so if I go MIA, never fear…I will resurface. In the meantime, if anyone has any questions or topics they want me to cover feel free to comment here and I’ll make it a point to respond to as many as possible.

Until then, I see the first-semester finish line ahead and I’m racing towards it!