iMedia Guest Speaker: Heather Keets Wright

On Wednesday, April 11, the iMedia class was visited by Heather Keets Wright, a multi-platform journalist and leading consultant in the content marketing industry. Heather is the chief creative officer for Cylndr Content Agency in Durham, N.C., and also runs her own content marketing agency, Wright Creative Agency, with her husband Mark.

Along with her warm spirit and excitement for all things creative, Heather had a lot of information to offer our iMedia class. Her level of expertise in the agency world was displayed through a presentation showcasing some of her most notable projects.  

Heather has written and consulted for reputable clients such as Essence, Martha Stewart, Wells Fargo, and the New York Presbyterian Hospital – to name a few. The iMedia class was eager to ask Heather for suggestions she may have for shaping and progressing in our careers. Out of the plethora of information she offered the class, here is a list of the top 5 tips she shared:

1.) Create your own LLC. Now.

Heather explained the importance of creating and developing our own personal brand. She explained that along with the “main” jobs we commit our time to, we as creatives should always be working on a passion project of our own. This not only secures and develops us in our own expertise but also helps market our talents to others.

2.) If given the opportunity, work in a brand and agency setting.

Heather explained that it can be tempting to want to work in an agency, but it is important not to overlook the benefits of working inside the brand itself. Having experience working for the brand will give us a better perspective of the needs and processes that happen on the other side of the fence. This perspective can better equip us to service clients when we make the shift into agency life.

3.) Stay up late and work hard.

Heather put it plainly, if you are not willing to stay up late working on a project, you are in the wrong industry. The steps it takes to become a successful creative requires a lot of energy and dedication. This is a testimony that resonated with many of our iMedia students. Our evenings spent in the editing bays of Long have really paid off.

4.) Always Freelance!

Heather reminded the iMedia class that we should always stay open to working on freelance projects. This helps expand our expertise and build our skill set.

5.) Network.

Last, but certainly not least, Heather told the iMedia class to utilize their connections and resources. Notably, she pointed out that our classmates are now a valuable resource to each of us. When we are given big projects that require a team of professionals, we can now tap into our iMedia network to find the talent we need.

Thanks Heather for visiting our class!

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A Moment of Reflection: What I Have Gained From iMedia

For the 2018 iMedia class, graduation is less than two months away (crazy, I know). This past school year has come with a lot of excitement and adventure, to say the least. As the iMedia class takes a breather from our studies with a week-long spring break, we finally have a chance to step back and marvel at the work we have accomplished over the past eight months. After learning new things and taking on big projects, we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel…but before we move on to the next chapter of our lives, it is important that we relish our accomplishments from the past year.

This past year has opened doors and planted seeds of new beginnings for many iMedia students. What we have learned and accomplished here should be noted and celebrated. I have witnessed the substantial growth of my classmates as they work tirelessly in and out of the classroom. There is nothing in our work that should be taken for granted. Every small win has built the confident and thriving class we are today.

I have compiled a list of my own accomplishments and gains from this past year, and have found it to be extremely helpful in my own self-revelation. Looking at this list, I know for sure that my time here at Elon was well spent. The long nights in the editing bays, the hours spent sketching and wireframing, and even the small frustrations and hang-ups – they were all worth it in comparison to the growth I have gained as a professional, and as an individual. Below are what I believe to be the top six skills that I acquired through my time in the iMedia program:

  1. Strong Technical Skills in Adobe Editing Software

Every day in class we worked with editing software that varied from video work, audio and even app-development. Our skills to edit and create digital content has grown substantially over the past year. For example, I blossomed from having intermediate skills with Microsoft PowerPoint to having professional knowledge of Adobe Creative Cloud software.

  1. Real World Experience

One of the most exciting moments of the iMedia Program was our fly-in experience in January where we complete a project for a real client in a foreign country. For one week, we were all knee-deep in a culture that was different from our own while servicing a non-profit organization. We all got a taste of what it means to work professionally with a team on a real project – and that’s awesome.

  1. The Ability to Adapt – Quickly

Being fully immersed in different editing software and programming languages for 10 months requires that one be flexible and ready to learn – quickly. The fear of trying something new has broken away from us. Now, we are no strangers to jumping in head-first.

  1. Theories to Inform Content Creation Strategy

Not only can we create beautiful designs and layouts, WE CAN EXPLAIN WHY THEY WORK. The ability to articulate why our work matters and how it impacts the final product is crucial. Our creativity has been paired with a soundboard of knowledge to help us make informed decisions in our design process.  

  1. A Strong Network of Professionals and Resources

As a university, Elon is known for its valuable network of alumni and career services. But the iMedia family runs deep. Many of my classmates, myself included, have already made several connections with iMedia alumni this year. Some alumni have visited our classes and given us a wealth of knowledge on how to improve our work. Being a part of the iMedia family is like a badge of honor – we are supplied with tools and connections that have helped us substantially in our projects and job search.

  1. Memories and Friendships

This is a big one for me. I have had the time of my life while working with my classmates. We have shared so many laughs and memories. Some I hope to never forget. This year was a time of growth for all of us and we did so with humility and respect for each other. I have had the pleasure of getting to know some phenomenal people.

I believe many of my classmates would agree with the things I have listed here. As a testament to their hard work and dedication – all of my classmates have gained a plethora new skills and abilities through the iMedia program. We each have collected a wealth of knowledge and materials that are sure to be beneficial for our next steps of life. Let’s carry this reflection with us and use it to fuel our final push to graduation!

Reflection

“We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience.”  — John Dewey

It’s November already?!

Prior to the start of this year, anyone that I had talked to who had been through the iMedia program would remark on how quickly their time flew by. As I flipped my calendar to November this morning, I thought to myself “boy, they sure weren’t kidding!”  Just yesterday members of our cohort sported some creative costumes in celebration of Halloween, and now today we begin the month of November.

Halloween

iMedia students Kyndall, Kendra, Kaylin, Amanda, Kelsey (me), Tip, and Sarah gather for a photo sporting their Halloween costumes

Though fall break was only two weeks ago, I find myself thinking back to it as though months have passed! Just yesterday we received an email from Dr. Lackaff regarding our pre-proposals for our research paper, an assignment that seemed months away when we learned about it in our final days of our Theory and Audience Analysis class with him just three weeks prior. And to top it all off, next Thursday we register for classes for our spring semester. As such, we are all starting to excitedly plan our next semester. With class options like Virtual Environments, Digital Brand Communication, Game Design and Development, and more, it’s hard to narrow it down to just three elective classes, in addition to our capstone course. Some students will pursue a professional apprenticeship in place of one of the electives, gaining real-world experience in a field that is especially of interest to them. Others will pursue an independent study to learn more about a specific topic with a faculty member that has expertise in that area. No matter which direction we go, our options are exciting and I think I can speak for everyone when I say we are all greatly looking forward to what the spring semester will hold.

Trey working on a project

iMedia student, Trey, working on a class project in our beautiful common space

It’s both exciting and terrifying to think about how far we have come since we started our iMedia journey at the end of July. It’s exciting to think about our future after iMedia, as we have already learned so much and the knowledge we accumulate continues to grow each week. Yet it’s also scary to think about how little time we have left to continue to learn and take advantage of the incredible resources we have at our fingertips in this program. Receiving a master’s degree in just 10 months is an incredible benefit of the iMedia program, yet for those like myself who are interested in such a wide variety of topics, determining a direction in such a short amount of time is without a doubt quite a challenge, though it sure is not a bad challenge to have and one that I continue to embrace as the weeks continue on.

To alumni that visited campus and our new home in Long last week for Elon Homecoming 2017, we enjoyed saying hello and soaking up the advice you offered for the rest of our time in the iMedia program!

Early mornings

Early mornings before the sun has risen in our new home in Long.

 

What it Means to be a Unicorn

Since the beginning of our adventure in iMedia program, a popular buzzword has been thrown around in discussions among iMedia students and faculty alike. This buzzword, though questionable as to how or why it has grown in popularity among the iMedia group, has rung true to its new meaning. Whether it be in a dialogue about the multitude of projects and lessons the iMedia class is undertaking or gossip about prospect career interests that we each have in mind, occasionally the word “unicorn” has been nested in our class’ conversations.

Now I know what you must be thinking, “What does this mystical fairy-tale creature have to do with coding, design, editing software or UX? Well, to put it simply, iMedia students are unicorns.

This is a pretty heavy claim, I know. But allow me a moment of your time so that I may offer some insight as to why this is true.

My most recent recollection of iMedia students being called unicorns was during a coding session with Professor Walsh. In the midst of speedily typing away to code and debug a wireframe for a website, Professor Walsh’s eyes took a moment to survey the room. With all seriousness, he looked at the group of iMedia students in front of him and said, “You know you guys are unicorns right? Has anyone told you yet?”

Yes, we have been told. In admiration of the different skills and tools we learn each week in the iMedia program, we are reminded of our supernatural existence. The term “unicorn” only seems fitting after seeing a graduate student skillfully record and edit a video, reconstruct a kiosk with efficient UX design, create their own typography, design, and code a website, and eloquently explain the theories that shape current media practices. Yes, such a sight of splendor and power is best equated to the beauty and wonder of a unicorn.

Despite the awesomeness that comes with being a unicorn (such as the knowledge that with the completion of this program your career options will be vast and your skillset will be stronger than ever) – there is a minor downside to being a mystical creature. Marketing yourself as a magic triple-threat in the media industry is great, but at some point, we much each hone our own niche’ of skills and interests to solidify our profession. There are still some visible moments of unease when asking an iMedia student what they wish to do after graduating. At this point in the program, we exist as fluid magical creatures, experimenting and owning every tool and software that is thrown at us.

Currently, iMedia students are flourishing as we are able to call ourselves coders, designers, UX specialists, and videographers – all at the same time. But as we all know, with great power, comes great responsibility. As we ready ourselves for the start of the spring semester, we are becoming more distinctive in our professional roles.

We are aware that at some point, we may have to trade in our wings and horns for more practical attire.

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We’re Going on a Trip!

Yesterday members of the #iMedia18 class were drafted for the Winter Term fly-ins. After learning what the destinations were last week, everyone was anxiously waiting to see where they would go. While some had a favorite destination in mind, others were just happy to finally be able to leave the country. Students weren’t the only ones who were excited. Draft Day is one of Dr. Copeland’s favorite iMedia days. “I love seeing what the team leaders are looking for in students for the fly in,” he said.

Here’s a breakdown of where teams will be traveling to in January:

Cap-Haïtien, Haiti

Haiti

Cap-Haïtien, Haiti is a port city on the north coast of Haiti. It’s known for its French colonial architecture and is classically nicknamed “The Paris of the Antilles.” Haitians mainly speak Haitian Creole and French. The students traveling to Haiti will be working with the Haitian Heritage & Friends of Haiti (HHFoH) Organization. The trip to Cap-Haïtien will be led by Maggie Mullikin and Nicole Triche.

Galway, Ireland

Galway

Galway, a harbor city on Ireland’s west coast and sits right on the Atlantic Ocean. Students traveling to Ireland won’t feel the heat, but they will get to work with the Lurgan Project, a non-profit educational organization whose goal is to promote the learning of Gaelic in order to “help students fulfill their potential in becoming competent and confident Irish language speakers.” The trip to Galway will be led by Derek Lackaff and Douglas Kass.

Granada, Nicaragua

Granada

Granada is on the shores of Lake Nicaragua and is home to multiple Spanish colonial landmarks that have survived repeated pirate invasions. Argh! The group traveling to Grenada will be working with the Puedo LeerLibrary in an effort to promote literacy and a love of reading with Nicaraguan children. The trip to Grenada will be led by Phillip Motley and David Copeland.

San José, Costa Rica

San José is the capital of Costa Rica and sits in the Central Valley region with the Talamanca Mountains to the soutSan Joseh and volcanoes to the north. Unlike the other destinations, the organization for Costa Rica is still a mystery! The Costa Rican Federation of Social Organizations has been hosting competitions for local non-profit organizations to see who will work with our #iMedia18 students. The trip to San José will be led by Amanda Sturgill and Vanessa Bravo.

No matter the destination, the #iMedia18 class will work hard to make sure our skills are up to par for our clients. Stay tuned to learn more about the teams and make sure to follow the iMedia program on Instagram and Twitter, and like us on Facebook!

#iMedia17 Winter Study Abroad Fly-in Presentations Tomorrow

Can’t make it to the event? Join the live stream.

After weeks of preparation, the iMedia Class of 2017 will debut Winter Term Study Abroad Fly-in Presentations, tomorrow, Jan. 25 at noon in Schar Hall’s Turner Theater.

Each January, iMedia students spend the month working on a team project for the public good, which includes a domestic or international trip to collect audio and video content. This year’s fly-in groups traveled to Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Iceland.

Can’t make it to the event? Follow the link below to join the live stream.

#iMedia17 Fly-ins – Live Stream

imedia_flyin

The Final Stretch of Fall

It’s Thanksgiving Break, which is supposed to be a break…right? A week full of relaxation, and time spend with family and friends…as some would like to think. As interactive media graduate students, that is not always the case. This break brings a sense of mixed feelings. Part of me cannot believe that it is already the end of November, and at the same time I glance down at my planner and think about how many assignments are due in the few short weeks before the semester ends – time is flying by and, at the same time, is creeping by slowly. In this time of thanks, there is so much that I am thankful for, especially when it comes to Elon’s iMedia Program

I am thankful for coffee. 

Starting off wi5742bf6909516d1017d8513faaf755a5th a lighter note, any graduate student that you talk to, would probably say that without coffee there is no way that could survive. Whenever I began the iMedia program, I was not a coffee drinker – it did not appeal to me in any way. Over the past few months, caffeine has become a necessity to get through the day.  I never thought I would look forward to drinking a drink as much as I look forward to drinking that cup of delicious coffee – that boost of caffeine always hits the spot!

I am thankful for incredible, extracurricular activities that Elon and iMedia provide us with.

In what started as a class assignment on creating an unique idea to pitch to our peers, turned into a pitch we submitted to Elon’s Innovation Challenge. At the end of October, Bridget Sheffler, Carmen Erdie and I, submitted our proposal for our innovative mobile app, Chronic Control. It is an unique app that is targeted for veterans suffering from chronic pain, and assist them in visually showing doctors where there pain is located. In early November, we were selected as a finalist to pitch our proposal to a panel of entrepreneurs during Elon’s Annual Innovation Challenge. In an outcome we did not expect, we placed 3rd out of all of the finalists!

I am thankful for our fly-in trip, and the opportunity to work with nonprofits abroad.

Since the beginning of the year, we have heard about the fly-in and what all this trip entails. Then, it seemed as if it was so far away. Now, we have a little over a month until we leave! Over the past few weeks, we have been drafted to specific trips, assigned our jobs and have began getting ready for an opportunity of a lifetime. Work for the fly-in is in full-swing, team meetings and client meetings are being held regularly, and drafts of deliverables are beginning to be created!

I am thankful for opportunities to expand our skill set. 

Part of the fly-in experience is being able to use the latest technology for a real-world client, while creating deliverables for each client. Training sessions are being held to teach each of us how to use all of the awesome gadgets that Elon University has provided for us while we are abroad. One example would be drones. Drones are awesome and can shoot some of the coolest videos, but I had never had the opportunity to use one until I became apart of the iMedia program. I am looking forward to putting my skills into use while I am in the DR!

14732392_1193088010757415_3395815037061201379_nI am thankful for spring semester and the classes we can take.

Life after graduation, is not the thoughts that many of us want in our heads yet. But, we recently had to register for spring semester classes. With that, comes thinking about what will life be like after graduation. What do we want to do? What direction do we want to take? Our spring semester is geared around the future – every class, every project, everything. What we choose should be based on what we are looking to do for our capstone and will assist us in gearing up for that next step after we turn the tassel. Getting to choose classes that match your interest make classes fun, right? I sure think so!

Surprisingly, I am thankful for research and for being pushed outside of my comfort zone.

Many of us have applied for and have been accepted to present our proposed research paper at the 12th Annual Global Communication Association Conference, in April of 2017 in Greensboro – the first time this global conference has ever been held in the United States! What does that mean? Over the next few weeks, we will be completing the research we proposed to submit our final research paper that we will be presenting at the conference!

I am thankful for iMedia, and #iMedia17.

Whenever I started the iMedia program, I could have never imagined how this program would transform me – personally and professionally. Through this program I have been challenged mentally, in ways I have never been challenged before. I have also been given opportunities that otherwise I would never have had. The friendships I have made, I never expected. From the first day of our summer seminar, friendships were already being created that will last long after graduation. Coming into this program, I thought that we would be too busy to even think about friends and little did I know that the friendships I would make would be ones that could last a lifetime.

As far away as graduation seems, we all know that it is just around the corner. Realizing how little time we have left together as graduate students, and how much we have to learn – grabbing the bull by the horns and continuing to dive in is the only choice we have, if we want to get the most out of this program and from each other!

#iMedia17, look at how far we have come and what all we have accomplished! I cannot wait to see what all we accomplish in the coming months!