About rwade2

Director of Career Development at Elon University

It is iMedia fly-in MANIA!!

by Ross Wade, Elon School of COM Career Guy

‘Tis the season for iMedia fly-in projects! At this moment all of our iMedia students are in different countries, serving deserving non-profits, by creating dynamic and meaningful digital media. The iMedia class of 2013 will be visiting Portugal, Cuba, and Costa Rica.

Check out this video from our Cuba iMedia team:

Check out their blog and be sure to follow them on Twitter at #imediaincuba.

The Portugal iMedia team we will be working with the Surfrider Foundation chapter in Ericeira, Portugal. Follow them at #isurfmedia on Instagram and Twitter.

Portugal iMedia team just arrives!


Follow the Costa Rica iMedia team at #teamCFA and @zuCRu


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For information on past iMedia fly-in projects visit the iMedia website. Below is a video about the 2012 iMedia Iceland group’s work with the Citizens Foundation.


Five pieces of career advice…that I never received.

by Ross Wade, School of COM career guy

Graduating in May? Freaking out? I totally get it. You’ve probably heard this before, but “looking for a full-time job is a full-time job.” Not only is looking for your first “real job” a lot of work, but it’s also totally distracting. How are you supposed to study or write papers when you feel compelled to check your email every five minutes to see if an employer has contacted you? I remember during my job search I checked and rechecked jobsites all day long…it was like a had a jobsite addiction.

Most of you will prepare yourselves well for the job search process. You’ll visit your career center for resume and cover letter assistance, begin networking at professional events and career fairs, participate in mock interviews, sharpen your online presence, etc. All of this is highly important, but I wish I had thought a little bit passed that my final year of college. Once you land your first job there are a whole other set of challenges and issues that can arise, and to be honest, I wasn’t really prepared for them.

 So…I offer you five pieces of career advice…that I never received:

1. Having a five-year plan is awesome…but leave room for some freestylin’.

My old motto used to be “Plan, plan, plan!” My MBTI type is ENFJ…and I’m such a HUGE “J” (judging) – I make lists for everything, I’m always early to events and meetings, I need to know as much as possible so I can make a decision as soon as possible…I just can’t help myself. Of course I love the idea of a five-year plan. My plan lists what I need to do each year to reach my next career goal, and keeps me on track as far as building skills, connecting with professionals, and implementing new ideas to help my office. However, the longer I’m a professional, the more I realize I can’t plan for everything. Once you start your career, you may realize that your skills and interests may not be as close of a match to your new job as you thought. You may find that you don’t like living in a big city as much as you thought. Out of the blue an amazing job opportunity may come your way that’s too good to pass up. Change happens. Being flexible and able to “freestyle” is important. That’s why it is really important to pay attention to what matters most to you…your values. The more you understand yourself, the more you’ll know when it’s time to stay or time for a change.

 Zenhabits is a great blog that reminds me that sometimes I just need to have the wisdom to allow things to happen.


2. Office politics and being the best new hire evaaahhh!

One of my first bosses gave me some great advice: “never come with problems, always come with solutions.” I try to remember this when I approach anyone with anything (especially managers and co-workers).

A current colleague of mine gave me some other great advice: “when you’re the new kid, be wary of the folks that immediately come up to you wanting to be your friends…they may be friendless at the office for a reason.” Now I’m not saying be suspicious of friendly folks, I’m just saying it is a good idea to lay low the first six months or so at your new job. Take the time to observe and figure out who the superstars, the gossips, and the brown nosers are. Once you get a sense of the office and its politics, you can feel more comfortable connecting and trusting colleagues. A great way to get a vibe of the office and learn more about your co-workers is to participate in office extracurriculars. Join the office kickball team or volunteer at a local non-profit with some colleagues – you’ll have fun and make some buddies at work.

Informational interviews are a great way to meet new folks and make positive impressions when you are new. When I was brand new to Elon University I made it a point to do informational meetings with directors in other offices and a couple of high level administrators. These meetings gave me a chance to ask some good questions, learn more about the history of Elon, learn some challenges and goals of other offices, and meet leaders early on that I may not have had the  chance to meet until much later (if at all).

I love lists, so here is a list of “seven deadly sins for new hires” and a list of “five tips for brand new employees.”


3. Planning for your future…grown-up style.

Along with your new job, and that paycheck, you’ll have other expenses – college loans, car payments, rent, food, bills, etc. Having a budget is important. I suggest putting together a solid budget during your job search (yup – before you even land your first gig). Know average salaries for jobs in your industry, the cost of living for the city you’d like to live in, and create a budget including all of those costs that are a part of “real life.”

I also recommend, as you are searching for jobs, that you look for companies with great retirement plans. Some companies have matching programs where if you put in a certain percentage of your annual salary, the company will match it. For example, “company X” may state that if you contribute 5% of your annual salary every year (taken out in bits each paycheck) to your retirement plan, the company will contribute 8% of your annual salary (out of their pocket) to your retirement plan as well. FREE MONEY!!! I love free money.


4. Have a life. Being happy day to day is important.

I recently talked to an alum that loves her job, but does not like the city she is living in. When I asked her why she said, “I’m just so lonely. I don’t have any friends or family here.” I hear this from recent alums all of the time. When creating your job search goals, be sure to consider your social supports. You need folks around you to encourage and help you. Life isn’t all about work, it’s about living.

Let’s say you are in a new city all alone. What do you do? There are a ton of things to consider! Join a religious or spiritual community, volunteer, sign up for an online dating service, schedule Skype talks with friends and family several times a week, or get a pet. I know some of these ideas sound cheesy, but connection to others is important. I’m a big city guide geek – this one is one of my favorites.


5. Be a life-long learner. 

The best way to stay current and relevant is to keep growing your skills. Join a professional association (maybe even take on a leadership position), utilize online tutorials to grow your skills, read great books and blogs on topics that interest you, and take risks at work by taking on large projects (you’ll learn so much and grow your confidence). Many organizations’ HR offices offer skill development seminars or a leadership programs. With every new skill you learn, there will be an opportunity to use it, improve your work, and impress your boss.

One of my favorite things on LinkedIn is “thought leaders” posts – great advice and stories of leadership and innovation by some of the world’s most successful and influential people.


Let’s talk salary…

by Ross Wade, School of COM Career Guy

Earlier this week I read an article in the Washington Post about the salary gap between men and women one year out from graduating. According to the article  “women made only 82 percent of what the men were paid, with the average woman making $35,296 while men were paid an average of $42,918.” Reading this article got me thinking about my students, and how terrified they are when it comes to talking salary during the interviewing and hiring process. Many students don’t even think about their professional worth until they’ve already accepted a starting salary (sometimes finding out later they should have asked for more).

A few months ago I wrote a post called “Salary. Know your worth!”, and I wanted to link it to the iMedia blog so my students start thinking about their professional worth now. The post has some good resources and strategies for understanding professional worth, having a plan when negotiating an offer, etc. Starting off at a new job with a salary you’re unhappy with will benefit neither your employer nor you. Know your worth!



Tips from a MASTER networker!

by Ross Wade, Elon University School of COM career guy

Devin Kelley, an Elon alum (BS, Marketing, ’08) has become a colleague and friend of mine over the past couple of years. Devin is by far the BEST networker I’ve ever met. In fact, networking is basically his job at Method Savvy in Durham, NC. Earlier today Devin forwarded me an email he sent to a current iMedia student on networking…it was so good I had to share on the blog:

First piece of advice, your job search doesn’t start next spring, it’s already started. See if you can get yourself in the door with internships, etc. during the year to set yourself up for potential opportunities when you graduate. In addition, I always tell people, the worst time to look for a job is when you need one.

 Ever been in a conversation with someone (even you parents) when they know you are going to ask them for something and you can tell they become more resistant to talking with you? That’s what happens when graduating students talk to everyone in the professional world once they “start looking for a job” or are about to finish up.  

There is no reason why you can’t talk with potential employers, go to conferences or flat out ask to have a sit down with someone who does what you would like to do right now. Frankly, you’ll probably have better results now. Connect with the type of people you think you’d like to work with now and nurturing those relationships until the school year ends. Then, you already have credibility when you need something (a job, a reference, a introduction) in the spring. 

 Second, all of us out here in the “real world” aren’t that smart, but we are busy.  If someone doesn’t get back to you about something its likely not because they didn’t like your resume or because your cover letter sucked or you didn’t do enough internships, that’s all bullshit.  It’s likely just because they are busy and they don’t know you from Adam.  

 With that in mind, if you find someone or someplace that you would like to work or would like an opportunity, be focused, creative and diligent in reaching out to the them. Don’t settle for “send me your resume” that’s a meaningless cop out most of the time.  Make personal connections with people within the organization and have confidence that even as a student, you have a skill set that is valuable to potential employers (because you do/will, we hired an iMedia alum this summer, I know). In short, companies (or non-profits) don’t hire/fire people, other people do.

 Lastly, don’t expect to get something from every conversation you have, but talk with everyone.  The more people you talk to about your skills, your program, about your interests, the more opportunities you’ll have to connect with people.  Don’t expect something amazing or life changing to come out of every conversation, because it won’t.  One of the biggest fallacies in networking is people thinking that as soon as they meet someone, they should be able to help each other out right then.  Networking is every effective when people’s priorities align, but just because you were able to talk with someone, doesn’t mean they can help you right now. Example: You find a company you’d really like to work with and reach out to them. After a couple of weeks you get in touch with them and they agree to an “informational meeting”. If you find out they aren’t hiring right now does that mean the meeting is worthless? Of course not.  When you have the chance to talk with someone ask about what they do, what there priorities are and most importantly, how you can help them.  Then, stay in touch, you never know when you priorities will align down the road.

Congrats iMedia Class of 2012!!

by Ross Wade, Elon School of COM career guy

Our 2012 iMedia grads have completed their program and are now out and about in the real world making their mark! Below is a list of where a few or our grads landed:

Software Engineer @ Groupon – Chicago, IL

Web Producer @ Capstrat – Raleigh, NC

Junior Media Manager @ Response Mine Interactive – Atlanta, GA

Lead Interactive Strategist @ Sales Factory – Greensboro, NC

Digital Advertising Coordinator @ McClatchy Interactive – Raleigh, NC

Project Consultant @ APCO Worldwide – Washington, DC

Be sure to check out the portfolios of the 2012 grads on the blogroll!

Congrats to all of the 2012 grads. It was a true pleasure getting to work with all of you and see you evolve over the past 10 months. You all make us very proud!!

Music to My Ears

by Maggie Mullikin, coordinator of graduate outreach and special programs &  Karen Hartshorn, ’10

I know this blog is not about me but, I must say, I love my job.  I get to work with talented, hardworking people, both colleagues and students, I learn something new everyday, and when I travel to promote our programs I am able to connect with our recent graduates, hear about their achievements and then turn around and relay their success stories.  While in NYC last month, attending the College Media Advisors’ Convention, I met with three former students from our inaguaral class of 2010.  They are each living and working in Manhattan.  Karen Hartshorn is one of the people I met with and she is an Assistant Art Director, Web at Redcats USA.

This is how Karen describes her job.
“I work for Roamans.com, a plus size clothing brand owned by Redcats USA.  Roaman’s is a web and catalog company (no stores).  I am in charge of all web related designs (emails, website refreshes, affiliate creatives, social media creatives).  I do not do any coding at my current job; that is an entirely different department. Instead, I give direction on the website design (user interface, functional design) and make sure all creatives are up to date with a fresh feel.  Even though I work for the web side of the brand, I have to have a great understanding of the print side, because the catalogs are produced much further in advance than online creatives, so I have to make sure that there are consistencies between the two.  When a customer shops in the catalog and then goes online, the website must “feel” like the catalog (but with a more updated look).  It’s very important to enhance parallels between all platforms (catalog, website, Facebook, blogs), but it is also very difficult to stay so consistent!  A fun aspect of my job is being able to create interactive style guides and fit guides.”

The most positive feedback I receive from blog readers is, almost always, the answer to this question.  How did the iMedia program prepare you for your job?
“The iMedia program is presented as a degree that will teach you both production and theory in order to be a well rounded designer and a new media thinker.  The theory component is an extremely valuable skill to learn that most junior level designers do not embrace.  Many designers will design in a vacuum, trying to meet deadlines and crank out projects with little attention to the quality and substance of their work (the bigger picture).  Since the iMedia program has a heavy focus on theory, you learn not only how to produce new media, but you learn why you are producing the content you are creating, for which audiences and for which reasons.  If you don’t know the theory, you’re not going to make the right decisions during the different stages of production.  The iMedia program intends to produce well rounded designers and new media thinkers who understand all aspects of the design process.  There are so many good designers in the workforce right now that you have to bring something “fresh” to the table.  The theory component of the iMedia program will allow you to stand out to employers as a valuable commodity.  Social media platforms, design software, and all other forms of Internet communications are constantly changing, and it’s understood that you have to keep up to date with these changes (and if you don’t, you are hurting yourself).  It’s becoming impossible to master one program or one platform before it becomes obsolete or a new version is introduced, changing the rules of what you once thought you had mastered.  The iMedia program prepares you for this kind of planned obsolescence.  iMedia teaches you to be a well rounded thinker with supplemental knowledge of how all new media platforms work and function.  Then it is up to you to maintain that knowledge.  A well rounded new media thinker with strong knowledge of technology can be a more valuable asset to a company than an employee who has mastered only one or two Internet platforms.  A well rounded new media thinker will be able to adapt to emerging markets and trends, while still having a strong grasp on all technologies. I believe that the iMedia program has the capability to produce really valuable producers and project managers, the type of employee that can manage other employees doing the “dirty work”.  For example, an iMedia graduate knows how to use the Adobe Suite programs (and can use them well), but their theory background and new media thinking mindset makes them better suited to be the leaders of projects who then delegate tasks to designers and other junior level employees.”

Karen’s words of wisdom….
“You might be sick of this word, but NETWORKING is how you are going to find your job.  And to be honest, the best you might get is a paid internship (do NOT settle for less though!).  It seems like companies today don’t care how many internships you have had in the past.  They want you to have an internship with THEM before they will consider hiring you (if you haven’t had a job prior to graduate school).  Having a graduate degree on your resume is a strong plus, but it’s not enough.  You MUST be able to perform, and the people you network with have every right to know if you are telling them the truth or not about what you are capable of.  There is nothing scarier than promising that you can perform and then not performing, because your failure will also be reflected on your network, and that is embarrassing for both parties.
Once you get your internship or job, continue to network within your company.  I began as a web design intern for my company, and I made it a priority to familiarize myself with every employee and to learn what each person’s title was.  Once I learned who everyone was, I was able to establish relationships and then build on them.  I saw a lot of interns going in and out of my company, never meeting anyone new.  Because I made such strong connections, and because people knew what I was capable of and that I was a good fit for the company, I was able to secure myself a position on the creative design team.  Do not lose out on the FREE AND EASY opportunity of networking when you land your first job!  And my belief is that ESPECIALLY if they are paying you poorly, you have every right to make the most of your experience there!  You are working for your company and they should in return “work” for you. Internships are not guaranteed to become jobs, so make sure that you are getting the most out of them before you might be required to look for the next move!”

Karen has always had a way with words and these words, in particular, are music to my ears.