Dream Job

I recently traveled to San Francisco for a conference and was able to make time to visit iMedia alumnus, Nick Margherita. Nick is video producer at CBS Interactive creating video content for the gaming-focused website GameSpot.  http://www.gamespot.com

Nick, joyfully, told me all about his job, how he landed it, and its correlation to his Interactive Media Master’s degree from Elon.

“As a video producer, I primarily write and edit entertainment content for GameSpot.com and GameSpot’s multiple social media outlets. These videos include things like gameplay clips, op/ed features, and extensive reviews. Aside from writing and editing, I also host live streams and roundtable chats discussing the latest video games and television shows.

“When I was preparing to graduate from iMedia, my dream was to work at ESPN. I felt that this combination of video production and sports would fulfill both my personal interests and professional aspirations. So with the help of Elon’s vast communications network I was able to get my foot in the door at ESPN as a production assistant. But within my first month at ESPN, I realized that live television production is vastly different from the videos we were producing in iMedia. I often felt that my creativity was being limited, and although it was an extremely hard decision to make, I decided to leave the company and television production in general.

“When I made the decision to move to San Francisco, I did not have a job but what I did have was the confidence in my iMedia master’s education and degree.

“Still, landing a job in SF was not as easy as I’d expected. I spent about three months couch-hopping around the city freelance editing for various tech start-ups. After struggling to find consistent freelance opportunities, I decided to join a creative agency to offer my skills to a more widespread clientele. Fortunately, when the agency learned that I had earned my master’s degree in Interactive Media and was well-versed in multiple skill sets aside from just video production, my resume rose to the top of their list. Within a few weeks I’d received an offer to be a full-time video producer at CBS Interactive.

The people I work with are by far the best part of my job. It’s a group of creative individuals who are super passionate about games, television and movies both in and outside of work. I can confidently say that I am excited to get up each and every morning to work with some of the gaming industry’s most respected and brightest writers and producers. And obviously having the opportunity to create content that I am interested in is a major plus and makes work feel a little less like work.”

Nick’s advice for people considering iMedia,

“Whether you are a recent college graduate or an experienced professional, if you are unsure of what career path you are passionate about and communications and media interest you, then iMedia is the perfect solution. When my undergraduate education came to a close I was still unsure of what exactly I wanted to pursue within the realm of communications. iMedia not only guided me in my journey to discover my interest in video but it also gave me the tangible skills necessary to succeed in the professional production world. Both the program itself and its faculty and staff changed my life in an incredible way, and I owe much of my success to iMedia.”

And naturally, words of advice to our current class,

“It sounds cliché, but don’t be afraid to fail or make mistakes; everything happens for a reason. When I first left ESPN, moved to San Francisco, and was jobless for three months, I thought I’d made the biggest mistake of my life. But now, nearly a year later, I couldn’t be happier with my past decisions. I honestly feel that I am a stronger individual because of the lessons I learned from those “mistakes.” The real world can be overwhelming sometimes and not go the way you plan. But if you work hard, focus on your goals, and have a positive attitude, then you can land your dream job. Or maybe even discover your dream like I did.

“In short, cherish your time at Elon with your classmates and professors, as I miss the campus and its people everyday! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts and experiences, and best of luck to both current and future iMedia students!”

Information about CBS Interactive: CBS Interactive is made up of multiple online brands that include: CBS News, CNET, CBS Sports, GameSpot, Giant Bomb, Metacritic, Last.fm, etc. GameSpot provides news, reviews, and other information on video games, entertainment, and other fun aspects of “geek” culture. 

 

Thanks Nick….

 

 

Seven Signs We’re iMmersed in iMedia

We are two weeks from finishing one of our classes this semester, and it’s hard to believe we’ve been working in iMedia for two whole months. There is a new challenge to tackle every day, but some things have remained consistent. Here are seven ways we’ve been immersed in iMedia!

  1. We survived bootcamp!

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It was a tough three weeks, but we made it through! Bootcamp gave us a crash course in all the programs and tools we need to be iMedia wizards and we aced it! If we can do it, you can too! 

2. We’re reading so much we’re pretty much ready to write our own book on media principles.

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Okay, maybe we couldn’t write a whole book, but definitely at least a literature review for our capstone projects next spring.

3. We may or may not be surviving on caffeine and caffeine alone.

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How else are we supposed to crank out that lit review (plus the seven other projects we have lined up)? We have four coffee and tea machines in our lounge that our fellow classmates have loaned us for those late nights (thanks, guys!).

4. We’ve coded at least one 90s-lookin’ website that’s still pretty rad.

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Are your friends coding websites? I think not! You go, master coder!

5. We’ve found a niche group of friends in the program, and everyone is here to support each other.

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We bring each other coffee, the stuff friendships are built on.

6. We’re getting more and more excited about the fly-in every day.

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We’re super pumped to get outta town and collaborate with our group members – wherever we might go with whomever they might be! We find out soon which country we’ll be working in and who our group members are, but “soon” feels awfully far away.

7. We’ve got our eyes on the prize.

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In eight months we’ll all have a Master’s Degree in Interactive Media and all the hard work will be worth it. In the meantime, we’re soaking up every bit of knowledge that we can – keep your heads up, iMedia 2017!!

 

Timing is Everything – along with Great Interactive Media Skills

by maggie mullikin and allie white

I had the pleasure of meeting with Allie White, a 2013 iMedia graduate. I thought it particularly relevant to share her story because Allie accepted a paid summer internship prior to graduating in May.

Cinci2
“I originally found Roadtrippers (roadtrippers.com) during Professor Xu’s class while we were doing the usability test project. I fell in love with the design of the site and how fun and original the concept and the people were so I kept up with the site after the project. After spring break when I was starting to stress out about the job search, I remember browsing their site and seeing that they were hiring for a Video & Photo Intern. I sent in my resume and a quirky cover letter hoping to catch their attention, thinking it would most likely head into the abyss that was leftover applications. However, I heard back from them within a week and set up a Skype interview for the following week. It was easily one of the most enjoyable interviews I had ever had. I immediately clicked with their hiring manager and I talked to his supervisor the next day. Within 2 hours of the call, I had an offer waiting in my inbox from them. It was one of those great situations where you mesh incredibly well with the people and the company. So a month later, I moved to Cincinnati – the day after graduation!

“Fortunately for me, the position was brand new and they saw a lot of potential for it to turn into a permanent position considering I was also well versed in graphic design and front end development. While I had specific large projects, like organizing and distributing our photo and time lapse photography library, I was also allowed a lot of flexibility in my position. I edited 5 videos throughout my time there, shot at a couple local events, and did both the shooting and editing for Lumenocity (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlQ5bmn70rA). While I greatly enjoyed my time there and learned a lot from the people I worked with, I wanted to utilize all the skills Interactive Media taught me and I wasn’t going to be able to in my position. However, I would definitely encourage iMedia students to consider taking an internship after graduation. What’s great about an internship is the possibility of it turning into a full time position and growing your network. I also think it’s sometimes necessary if graduates are still trying to figure out which specialty to focus on in their career. At the end of the day, I think it comes down to what kind of company it is- a lot of companies view an intern as someone that needs to be guided step by step. Roadtrippers was very open to me designing the position for myself and allowing me to try new ideas, so it never felt like a traditional internship.”

Allie is currently doing freelance work across the Triangle. “After I finished my internship in Cincinnati, I moved back because I knew my network was stronger here and I would be able to find more design and video jobs in the Raleigh area. One of the greatest things about my experience in the iMedia program was being able to start doing freelance work during the second semester and counting my video work as an apprenticeship, under the guidance of Dr. Copeland. By using that as a class, I was forced to create a schedule, set priorities and goals, and remain accountable to not only my boss, but to the program. Freelancing and working primarily from home can be difficult because you can be flexible in your schedule which allows for a bit of laziness, and if you’re not careful you’re missing deadlines. However, my experience in the program taught me to appreciate that flexibility, instead of abusing it. I truly enjoy freelancing because it’s allowed me to pick both video and design projects and not be limited to one specialty.

And Allie’s words of wisdom for current and perspective students?

“While you should be doing research about companies you can see yourself working for after graduation, I would focus more on making your capstone an amazing portfolio piece that speaks to employers and shows exactly what you want to do. Your capstone should be a passion project and both challenge your capabilities and showcase the direction you want to go in your career. I’d also encourage students to take advantage of their Fly-In experience, both out of the country and back in Elon. My experience in Ecuador as Project Manager taught me a lot about myself, how to work productively with a team, and what I wanted to be doing career-wise.

And most of all, enjoy the rest of your iMedia experience, graduation will be here before you know it!”

So Much More than Cookies and Camp

by maggie mullikin

I recently visited with Meghan Gargan Bredhal, a 2011 iMedia graduate. Meghan talked about her job and the role the iMedia program has played in her career.

“My current job title is Digital Marketing & Project Director for Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines. We are one of 112 councils that sit under the Girl Scouts USA umbrella. We serve 28,000 girls in central and eastern North Carolina and roughly 10,000 adult volunteers.

“In this role I’m responsible for developing and implementing the organization’s digital marketing strategy in order to achieve key business objectives such as increasing customer acquisition and retention, product revenue, and brand awareness. I lead and oversee the social media marketing program, design and distribute email marketing campaigns, oversee and update the website and blog, as well as lead the Salesforce CRM and marketing automation projects we have going on right now. It’s a big job, but very rewarding.

What is truly unique about the iMedia program is that it gives students a taste of everything, making them well-rounded candidates for the interactive industry. My versatility is something that helped me stand out from the crowd of more than 200 applicants. Additionally, having portfolio pieces to show that I not only talk the talk, but walk the walk, was what helped my current boss decide I was the best candidate for the job.  

“Whether I’m designing a visual piece of content for social media, strategizing on the best time to send an email blast, mapping out the new UX and IA for the Girl Scouts website (coming summer 2014) or developing a consumer promotion to drive customer loyalty and engagement – I rely on my iMedia education every single day.

The best part of Meghan’s job, “Girl Scout Cookies! Just kidding! Although, they are a wonderful perk. The best part of my job is knowing that I’m making a difference in the lives of girls and adults across North Carolina. Non-profits have a reputation for being behind the times when it comes to technology and I’m glad to say that Girl Scouts isn’t one of them. We are constantly innovating and improving the way we do things and finding ways to incorporate technology to make it easier and more convenient for our members.”

Meghan’s advice for potential iMedia students,
“For potential students, I really recommend coming into the program with 1-2 years of work experience or 2-3 really strong internships under your belt. Understanding the demands of the workforce helped me place my iMedia education into context. It helped me define the areas that were most in-demand for my industry as well as develop specific portfolio pieces for the jobs I wanted once I graduated. Finally, having worked for two years before joining the program, I already had a well established network of contacts who were eager to learn about and share my work – thus leading to new contacts and new opportunities.”

Advice for current students,
“Be passionate. Be hungry for knowledge. Be exhausted (you can catch up on sleep in May!). The 10 months will fly by and there will never be another time in your life where you can completely immerse yourself in your digital education. Take advantage of every opportunity, explore any and all paths that interest you, and never stop learning once you graduate.”

Faculty Spotlight: Professor Dianne Finch

The iMedia faculty hold the highest degrees in their fields and have relevant real-world experience. Being a graduate of the program, I wanted to profile the wonderful faculty members who help make the iMedia program so successful.

Professor Dianne Finch is new to Elon this school year, but has already made her mark on the iMedia program, offering a popular spring elective, Data Visualization. Professor Finch holds an M.S. in Journalism from Columbia University. She has professional experience in software, programming and journalism. Before coming to Elon, she was manager for New Media and a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT. We are happy to have Professor Finch sharing her knowledge at Elon!

iMedia Professor Dianne Finch // Elon Interactive MediaHow has your background influenced what you teach in the interactive media program?
My career in the software industry taught me the importance of designing and thinking critically before building. The same principle directly applies to the data visualization class.

In journalism, a good story can’t be written without solid reporting, critical thinking, and the ability to see behind the rhetoric and bias. In data visualization, students mine, clean, filter and analyze data before designing a visual. They should have an idea in mind, but the sketching doesn’t begin until they’ve discovered and vetted the data. The data should have the potential to tell a story – or part of a story. I believe that the same principle applies to many disciplines.

Is there a college class or experience that has most influenced your teaching philosophy?
There were many college classes that influenced my teaching philosophy. At Columbia University, my adviser and “reporting 101” professor pushed me to identify the best possible sources for stories. If a student handed in a story with sources that weren’t solid or authoritative when necessary, the story was rejected on the spot.  It was challenging, but it was an important lesson and so essential to good journalism.  In data visualization, the same principle applies – but the sources are the data.

What is your favorite thing about teaching iMedia students?
iMedia students are enthusiastic, creative and seem to be attracted to challenging endeavors. They bring a range of skills to my class. Some have worked in professional jobs, and others are recent graduates. Many are already adept in video production, motion graphics, Adobe design tools and coding with HTML and JavaScript. It’s apparent that they are taking advantage of everything that iMedia has to offer. I look forward to seeing their final projects and I’m confident that they will incorporate those other skills into their visualization projects.

Can you share a bit about the new course, Data Visualization?
The course covers the fundamentals of data visualization with an initial focus on data mining, cleaning, filtering and merging. We talk about using color, shapes, position, size and other visualization characteristics to apply to data types – such as categories, dates and quantitative numbers. As for tools, we start with Google Fusion and then move to the Google API, Tableau Public and finally the D3 JavaScript Library. We build interactive maps, timelines and other types of charts. When students walk away, the hope is that they will know which tools best suit their individual needs and abilities. Some require coding skills – while others don’t.

How will the skills you are teaching translate to the future?
Corporations, news organizations and even politicians are embracing data visualization to communicate important trends and stories that might otherwise be buried in spreadsheets and unavailable to the average person. Small businesses offering data visualization services are popping up around the globe – creating a new sector in the software or communications industry. Elon and other universities are establishing courses, and I’ve heard about K12 schools that are teaching children how to display data in the US and the UK. The big data and open data movements obviously contribute to the demand for skills in this area. As those movements gain momentum, data visualization should continue to evolve and adjust.

What would your students be surprised to learn about you?
I lived in Japan and traveled throughout Asia. I love the outdoors and lived in Alaska as a child. My husband, Brian, is from England. Thanks to Brian’s son, we have three adorable grandchildren. I’ve travelled to many countries, and must see many more.

I know you just moved to North Carolina, what is your favorite thing about living here so far?
The weather. Watching flowers break ground so early in spring. Again, the weather.

Thanks to Professor Finch for sharing more about herself. I hope spring weather is here to stay soon!

Faculty Spotlight: Professor Amanda Sturgill

The iMedia faculty hold the highest degrees in their fields and have relevant real-world experience. Being a graduate of the program, I wanted to profile the wonderful faculty members who help make the iMedia program so successful.

Dr. Amanda Sturgill fearlessly leads iMedia students into remote areas of Costa Rica each year for fly-in projects and has been working tirelessly to develop a new course on SEO, analytics and social media. Dr. Sturgill holds a Ph.D. from Cornell University and is passionate about teaching people how to make great content. If you are looking to be challenged, I highly recommend one of Dr. Strugill’s classes.

Dr. Amanda Sturgill with the Interactive Media team that built http://terraba.org, at their 2013 graduation

Dr. Amanda Sturgill with the Interactive Media team that built http://terraba.org at their 2013 graduation

How has your background influenced what you teach in the interactive media program?
I am a recovering newspaper journalist who has had a strong interest in interactive media since back in graduate school, where I worked as a student researcher in an interactive multimedia lab. I have a strong interest in using media to tell stories where the reader is a part of the story as it unfolds.

Is there a college class or experience that has most influenced your teaching philosophy?
My first multimedia class at Cornell with the amazing Geri Gay had the philosophy that learning, studying and creating are all inextricably related. I think in a skills-based field like communications, it’s important to consider all three, so my classes are always a mix of thinking and doing.

What is your favorite thing about teaching iMedia students?
I like the variety of students that iMedia attracts – many different undergraduate majors and different ages/levels of experience. It’s always interesting getting different people’s points of view.

I’m excited to hear about your new class, SEO, analytics and social media. Can you share a bit about it?
It’s something that I have been working on for almost a year that grew out of things students were hearing as they were interviewing for jobs. Those going the project management and content creation routes were expected to know how to effectively reach audiences and measure the impact of the projects they were creating. There is a robust Internet marketing community in RDU and another in the Triad, and we’ve had great support from both directions in putting together this new class.

How will the skills you are teaching translate to the future?
I teach Interactive Project for the Public Good (the Fly In) as well as the new elective. For both, the major skills aren’t particular techniques that are popular today, but rather the ability to analyze communication problems, to identify the emerging technologies that are the best solution and work quickly and creatively in a group to make it happen. I call the Fly In class the “little miracle” because we literally go from wheels up to web site in 3 weeks, but it’s also the kind of experience our students will have throughout their careers.

What would your students be surprised to learn about you?
I really enjoy keeping up with my graduates, both undergrad and grad students. My former students are doing everything from editing to acting to accounting to building web sites to serving in the military to lobbying Congress to preaching to translating to planning special events to … well, it’s a lot and they live all over the world.

What is your favorite thing about living in North Carolina?
The diversity! The booming NC tech corridor has brought smart people from all over the world to live here.

Thanks so much for sharing your insights, Dr. Strugill!

Faculty Spotlight: Professor Phillip Motley

by Katie Williamsen, Elon iMedia Class of 2012

THE IMEDIA FACULTY HOLD THE HIGHEST DEGREES IN THEIR FIELDS AND HAVE REVELANT REAL-WORLD EXPERIENCE. BEING A GRADUATE OF THE PROGRAM, I WANTED TO PROFILE THE WONDERFUL FACULTY MEMBERS WHO HELP TO MAKE THE IMEDIA PROGRAM SO SUCCESSFUL.

Professor Phillip Motley has been with the iMedia program since it began in 2009. He completed his undergraduate degree at Davidson College and received his Master of Industrial Design at North Carolina State University. Professor Motley has industry experience as a multimedia designer, animator and art director. Before returning home to North Carolina, he taught design at University of Wisconsin-Stout.

All students take Professor Motley’s Visual Aesthetics class in the fall semester of the program. He will stretch your creative side and teach you that good design is about problem solving.

Professor Phillip Motley and his fly-in group in Costa Rica

Professor Phillip Motley and his fly-in group in Costa Rica

How has your background influenced what you teach in the interactive media program?
My background is in art and design informs much of what I do in the iMedia program. Though I’m not trained in communications and mass media, the skills and experience that I have as a visual designer are useful to iMedia students who want to work in some way with interactive media, which is inherently visual in so many ways. In the iMedia program, I mostly teach visual aesthetics and design related topics so that type of background comes into play all the time.

Is there a college class or experience that has most influenced your teaching philosophy?
I think the most important influence on my teaching has been the varied nature of teaching experiences that I’ve had. I taught a little bit during graduate school; taught for four years in an Art & Design program to BFA students; and now teaching in a Communications program. I think that the chance to teach so many different types of students has helped me out with my teaching style and with my comfort in front of the class. My graduate school experience (the College of Design at North Carolina State University) really hammered home the idea of process which I’m big on trying to instill in my students.

What is your favorite thing about teaching iMedia students?
 My favorite thing about iMedia students is their willingness to jump right in on Day 1 and never look back. They are generally unafraid to express their views and opinions which is a nice contrast to many undergraduate students. I also really like the breadth of undergraduate degrees that they bring with them to the program. It’s refreshing to teach students who know a lot about so many things.

What is your favorite topic to teach iMedia students?
I enjoy teaching iMedia students about typography and about motion design. I really enjoy talking to them about narrative construction and storytelling. That’s an exciting area for communications students to focus on and is one that I believe will always be valuable. I’m always conflicted about wanting more time to dig into the technology aspect of much of what I teach. The fast-paced nature of the program and the course that I teach them in the fall (Visual Aesthetics) doesn’t allow for too much in-class time dealing with that aspect—and thus puts the onus on the students to figure out a lot of the inner workings of the software tools that they use. This works—and in the long run probably makes the students stronger at problem solving and being self-sufficient—but I do enjoy showing students how things work. Even though the summer course they take in August, Digital Media Workshop, is fast-paced and very much about tools, I enjoy it because it satisfies that side of my teaching interests.

How will the skills you are teaching translate to the future?
I think that most of the visual stuff we talk about in my classes are universal themes that are usable in a wide range of activities and occupations. Good design is good design regardless of where and how it is employed. The same is true of storytelling. We all love a good story and, for many of us, it’s the mechanism that we learn best from.

What would your students be surprised to learn about you?
That my daughter’s (Mackie) middle name is Nicole for the ridiculous reason of wanting her initials to be “MNM”

What is your favorite thing about living in North Carolina?
My favorite thing about being in the piedmont region of NC is how close we are to both the mountains and the beach. I know everyone says this, but it’s true. I grew up in the eastern part of the state (New Bern) so the coast is a special place for me. At the same time, I love the outdoors and grew up camping, backpacking and white water canoeing with my family so the mountains are also a big draw for me. Being relatively close to both is really nice.

Thanks for sharing a little bit about yourself, Professor Motley!