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!


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


Demand for iMedia Skills Continues to Grow

You’ve probably started to notice the shift. #iMedia17 has shared details about projects, offered insight about class assignments, and now, students are preparing for the end of their 10-month graduate school journeys. With just a little more than two months left before graduation, the job search is on and the pace for life after iMedia will be soon be set for these budding professionals.

And there’s a lot to look forward to. A quick internet search sheds light on how much digital and creative skills are in demand in a wide range of industries. Look further and you’ll learn more about the benefits of working in digital careers, key skills needed and the most sought-after job titles.

With help from CNNMoney and Payscale, let’s take a peek at a few iMedia-friendly positions and the job outlook of each. In the Best Jobs in American 2017 list, these sources highlight the “top 100 careers with big growth, great pay and satisfying work.” Here are 10 jobs from the list that are popular among iMedia graduates.

#1 – Mobile Applications Developer $97,100 19%
#14 – Webmaster $61,200 27%
#26 – Community Relations Manager $63,600 10%
#30 – Brand Manager $89,800 9%
#42 – Social Media Manager  $57,400 9%
#47 – Front End Developer/Engineer $81,000 27%
#56 – Videographer $49,600 12%
#57 – User Interface Designer $73,800  27%
#68 – Content Strategist $84,400 19%
#99 – User Experience Designer $85,900 13%

Visit CNNMoney for the complete list. For more about the Elon M.A. in Interactive Media program, visit elon.edu/imedia.


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!

A Personal Profession

I have lived in three different states in the last six months.  Although the process of packing and moving halfway across the country was daunting, I am so thankful that I’m here today.

3w9a9787Last year, I was teaching horseback riding lessons, writing papers, and organizing philanthropy events. I felt that I had a realm of expertise in each of those spaces.  Although the familiar is what I used to enjoy, stepping outside of that comfort zone has caused me to grow as an individual.  The program was intimidating; I was told that I would eat, sleep, and drink iMedia.  The 10-month immersion promised a whole new journey away from my space of comfort, a journey into new and exciting (sometimes scary) experiences.  The intensity of iMedia certainly lives up to its reputation, but I have also discovered a crucial hidden bonus that was neither disclosed nor advertised.  This bonus is not learned in the classroom, and it isn’t something that we can necessarily place on our resumes; this bonus is camaraderie.

Camaraderie didn’t start immediately. We were a medley of personalities and strengths awkwardly plopped into Powell room 210, but we slowly became united throughout our journey in the program.  Camaraderie began in an edible form, specifically, in the form of coffee and breakfast—the perfect duo.  Slowly but surely, we acquired three different coffeepots in the lounge, assorted K-cups, and a steady rotation of muffins, cookies, and doughnuts.  These little pick-me-ups were weekly highlights amid the stress of Dr. Lackaff’s class, and each peace offering provided subtle appreciation for our fellow classmates and our mutual struggles.  In addition to caffeine and sweets, we started a GroupMe to keep in contact with one another and clarify assignments.  Soon, though, we began to utilize one another for more than just academic sanity—we became a family.

GroupMe quickly merged into a platform for non-school related activities in our limited spare time.  The first movement was a “Game Night,” hosted by Darrien, and since, it has become somewhat of a tradition.  Each Friday, a classmate hosts Game Night as a detox from the week, and we play Trivia, Uno, and Battle of the Sexes.  14855925_10211408030585920_5000333281743206314_oRecently, these Fridays have turned into potlucks, too (we’re clearly food-driven people).
Last week, Ashley arranged a festive party where we gathered to watch skits, sing karaoke, and paint pumpkins.  On Halloween, many of us coordinated wearing onesies for the day.  We have begun to rely on one another not just for the answers inside the classroom, but for the relaxation outside of the classroom.

Our camaraderie will grow even further throughout the year, and eventually, we might be relying on one another for more than just another cup of coffee or another round of Uno.  Instead, we might be relying on one another for a recommendation at the company of our dreams.  My 25 classmates have individual and admirable skills, and I’m proud to call them not just classmates, but also friends and future professionals.  Back in August, I took each of my classmates for granted.  I figured that I would develop some friendships, but I never really thought about the depth and importance of these connections.  I never considered the future implications, and I never considered the impact that each individual would have on my experience in the program as well as my career after the program comes to a close.  Networking and moving toward the next step might seem intimidating at first, but it’s just another journey, and this time I have 25 people to help guide me along the way.


The Best Design and Code Resources

by Katie Williamsen, Elon iMedia Class of 2012

Recently iMedia Professor William Moner shared a list of design and code resources and newsletters the with current students. It inspired me to put together my own list of resources that students past, present and future can refer to. When I was in the program, Google was my best friend when looking for inspiration and code help, but I also had a list of go-to websites and other resources.Below are some of my favorite design and code resources.

Interactive Media Design and Code Resources // Elon iMedia

Design and Code Resources

A Book Apart: 11 different books highlighting current topics in web design and development ranging from web typography to sass for web designers. Each book is around 100 pages and written by masters in their fields – a must have for your library.

Codepen: This website is all about front end
development. Create, test and perfect your code with the in browser code editor or be inspired by other code pen members.

Fast Company: Looking for inspiration? Fast Co. Design shares innovative stories from all over the tech world. If you are a fan of print, they also have a great magazine.

HTML5 Weekly: Looking to learn more about HTML5? This weekly newsletter shares tips, updates and more. Even if you aren’t a developer, it is always nice to know the capabilities of HTML5.

JavaScript Weekly: This weekly newsletter is a round-up of JavaScript news, articles and resources. It’s a great way to stay current in the world of JavaScript.

Web Designer Depot: This blog is a must bookmark for web designers and developers. WDD posts news, tutorials, tools and more. They also have a great newsletter I would recommend subscribing too.

I am just scratching the surface with design and code resources. What are your go to web resources?

Campaign Kick-Off

By Marianne Brigola, Comm Career Advisor

Happy Homecoming 2015! This is a big year for the School of Communications. Today the School of Comm is hosting several events to promote several exciting changes coming over the next few years.

Every year for Homecoming, the School of Communications hosts an alumni welcome lunch on Friday, to welcome back our fabulous alumni. This is followed by the annual Alumni Wisdom Panel, coordinated by Nagatha Tonkins, School of Communications Director of Internships. This year’s panel includes iMedia alum, Conor Britain.

Last night at a gala in NYC hosted by Elon parent Brian Williams (yes, of NBC Nightly News), the School of Communications officially launched the public campaign for new facilities. The $15M campaign will provide funding for new communication facilities that will include new interactive media labs, a media-analytics lab, a renovated news station, a 250-seat theater, as well as classroom spaces and faculty offices.

Check out the new School of Communications buildings below!



Spring Semester Classes: Totally Awesome

By Stephanie Schwartz, iMedia Class of 2013

Sometimes it seems that capstone gets all the love.

Well, not quite. It certainly seems to get the most press when it comes to talking about the program. But the dirty little secret of second semester is that we have other classes, and they take up a lot of our time.

Only two students among our group of 26 are taking an internship this semester, but even they take two classes outside of capstone. While our fall semester was regimented, our spring semester is made up of options. Essentially, every class outside of our capstone is an elective.

This year, we had five choices: Application Development, Media Management and Economics, Intellectual Property Law, Public Opinion in New Media,  Multimedia Storytelling, and the Converge Practicum, which was admission-only. The nine students who secured a spot will be heading to the Converge Southeast Conference in a month.

Under the direction of Brad Berkner, the Converge students have been working on a campaign to raise awareness of the iMedia graduate program to Elon undergraduates. We surveyed undergrads to see how they found out about events on campus, what technologies they used and what they knew of the iMedia program if they had heard about it, as well as interview alums to see what their thoughts were. We took this information and began to brainstorm some ideas that would describe iMedia in an accurate yet compelling way, designing logos and shooting footage for a 30-second clip that will be featured on a one-page website later this semester. We have started presenting workshops to undergrads on topics like basic web design and search engine optimization.

Harlen Makemson’s Multimedia Storytelling class is largely a workshop, where students work on a different open-source tool every few weeks to create short stories. A part of the class is to identify and share other tools, resources, and examples of digital storytelling. There is so much great stuff out there – highlights have included the wedding site of Jessica Hische  and Russ Maschmeyer, Coal: A Love Story, Interactive Narratives, and the UNC Digital Story Lab.

We have discovered that there are so many different ways to tell compelling stories, and that each tool has its strengths and weaknesses. Most of the new tools tried in class so far – Zeega, Meograph and Mozilla’s Popcorn Maker – are only a few months old, and are still very buggy, much to our consternation.

Public Opinion in New Media might be a theory class, but Professor Kenn Gaither is all about application. Despite freaking everyone out by having a midterm and a final (!), he tests us on concepts and challenges us to put them into practice. To illustrate social proof, groups of students slowly had to go outside and stare at the flagpole, while others recorded actions of passersby – to see how others would react. He also gave everyone 45 minutes to come up with a strategic campaign for the National Sleep Foundation, and we had an enjoyable discussion on the PBS Frontline special The Persuaders, all about the advertising industry. Within a week of viewing the film, Slate published an article discrediting one of the featured leaders, French marketing executive Clotaire Rapaille. How’s that for relevant? We’ve also had passionate discussions and analysis around coverage of issues in the Middle East and in India. Considering we all barely passed his first-day quiz of basic international issues, we’re all glad to be exposed to such interesting and topical content, making our class that much better.

Intellectual Property Law was an intense half-semester course, where students were given a survey of communications law — copyright, trademark, patent, privacy, fair use and internet piracy. This class was anything but boring — we got to make our own syllabus, and every class offered a different shape configuration of seats. Like Professor Gaither, Brooke Barnett made sure that we could apply our understanding of the laws and apply and interpret them. We had to think about where we stood on issues, and some of us were surprisingly conservative or liberal in how we applied them. Like Public Opinion, this class was discussion-based, but the cases were very interesting and the goal was for students to feel comfortable in understanding how to use content.

Media Management and Economics is co-taught by Connie Book and Jack Stanley, a 45-year executive at Time Warner Cable, now retired. Each session, he goes over current events of the past few days, as we discuss shifting television patterns and greater reliance on mobiles and tablets. The bottom line for us, whether we will be content creators or managers (or both), is that everything comes down to money. That might be obvious, but for many communications majors, it’s worth repeating.

For a good portion of the semester, we will be focusing on one case study: the Google Fiber broadband push in Kansas City.  Being iMedia students, we are often so surrounded by technology and live this life so fully that it’s hard for us to sometimes understand that there are people out there who have no interest and see no use for something we consider so necessary: the Internet. Google plans to expand broadband – high speed access – to areas that do not have it, for an affordable price. The company picked Kansas City (both the Missouri and Kansas locations) because they felt it was a real growth opportunity.

And last but not least, students got Google Analytics certified. We are all very excited to put this on our resume, as we know how important metrics are to understanding the role of content and audience to a message, thanks to our professors!

With all the talk of mobile, iMedia would be remiss if it didn’t offer a class on application development. Taught by Brian Walsh, our HMTL and CSS instructor, his Application Development class first made web-based applications — essentially websites designed for mobile phones — and then geolocation apps, where they were able to detect a user’s location, add custom points, and populate the map with nearby businesses and landmarks. We will now be accessing APIs, which means our applications can power the camera on the phone, and have begun working on final project ideas, where everyone will make a very simple app showcasing some aspect of basic data, like pictures and descriptions.

While classwork this semester is just as intense and consuming as last semester, we seem to be enjoying it more, and it’s not because graduation is on the horizon — that makes us even more stressed — it’s because we truly love our classes. We’re working on topics we’re interested in and exploring tools and mediums we like. As a bonus, all of these classes have in some way dovetailed with our capstone or our career ambitions, as professors try to tailor their assignments so we can pursue our own interests. Both the theory and production classes have turned out to be valuable in one way or another — not a distraction from capstone, but an enhancement.