Home for the Holidays

By: Amber McCraw, Assistant Director of Career Services, School of Communications

As the holidays are approaching and the semester comes to a close, iMedia students will likely be traveling home for the holidays. A trip home usually results in friends and family questioning next steps and career plans. If you’re wondering how to handle those questions and make the most of your break, I’m here to help.

As an upcoming graduate, you are not expected to have it all figured it out just yet. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t start preparing to relieve some of the anxiety that ultimately comes with the job search. Here’s a short list of 3 things you can do to utilize your time off efficiently and answer those pesky questions from your well-meaning friends and family.

Make Lists: Maybe you need a focus for your job search. Start by making lists…cities you want to live in, companies you would like to work for, or industries you have an interest in. Not only will this give you a place to start, it will help clarify your interests and help you answer questions about location or interests. Once you’ve made those initial lists, you can delve further by noting contacts you have in each city or at each company to help you understand where your network is strong or lacking.

Set-Up Meetings: You’ve got your lists, so now it’s time to set-up some meetings. This will be easy if home is the place you want to be after graduation. If it’s not, consider spending a couple of days in the city or cities you would like to live in. Use LinkedIn to reach out to contacts (new and old) to set-up a meeting over coffee or hot chocolate. If you can’t visit the city of choice, use the time for a phone or Skype conversation. Your contacts are great people to ask about life in the new location, information about the company they work for, or insight into the position they hold.

Research: You’ve got some time off, so now is the time to sit down and research. Are your friends and family asking what kind of job you plan to have after graduation? Still not sure? Start looking at job descriptions and position titles to get a better idea of what will match your interests, needs, and skills. This will give you an idea of job titles to look for, typical job responsibilities, and skills/qualities required. Once you’ve done your research, you’ll have a few ideas to throw out when someone asks what you’ll be doing with your degree.

Take these few simple steps and use your break wisely. Hopefully, these tips will help you answer all of the questions that you can’t avoid.

It May be November, But We’re Ready for Spring!


As the semester is nearing the end, students are beginning to think about their spring semester and final few months in this program. In the fall, students are assigned their courses and everyone is taking the same classes. However, in the spring, students take a six hour capstone course and choose three electives from a list of classes covering a variety of topics. Here’s a look at some of the courses they’ll be taking this spring:

Social Media and SEO– This is a course that focuses on some of the strategy and insight behind what happens in interactive media. Students will focus on three main points in this course: analytic tracking and reporting, social media strategy and technical SEO.

Virtual Environments– Though some might think that Call of Duty is all fun and games, there is much more that goes into creating virtual environments. This course will focus will focus on the theory behind game creation and will even construct a basic virtual environment as a team.

Interactive Media Management and Economics– As professionals, it is important for us to understand the industry that we are in and how it functions. This course will spend time looking at business models, case studies and management and economic principles in order to better understand the industry that we are in.

Digital Brand Communication– Brands are a large part of what we do with interactive media. Today, everyone has a brand and it is our job to tell our client’s brand story. This class will take a look at the changing media landscape and how brand messaging can be used effectively.

Graphic Design– This fall, all students have been enrolled in a visual aesthetics class where they’ve learned about the basic skills and principles of design. This course will give students a deeper knowledge of graphic design and will employ harder concepts and projects.

Application Development– This course will teach students the basics of app development and will give them the knowledge to be able to succeed in the programming industry.

Data Mining and Visualization– One of the most important skills a professional can have is being able to display information in a way that engages people. This course will teach the students to find data, clean it up and create visualizations that are engaging and easily digestible.

Multimedia Storytelling– This course will help students learn the different ways that a story can be told. We often think of stories in books, but there are many other ways that a story can be told. Students will use these skills to create new and inventive ways to spread information and create a story.

Well there they are! We are so excited for our spring courses and we can’t wait to see what kind of amazing projects our students create. Visit the iMedia website to learn more about our program and be sure to check in with our blog each week!

Toward a “T”

It could be argued that the first half of the Fall semester focused on a broad overview of the Interactive Media industry. But we’re solidly past the basics now. It all happened so fast, but it’s safe to say that we’re now becoming true experts– and all in different areas.

It’s amazing, really, how we’ve all begun to find our own niche in the field. Some of us fell in love with coding, others with graphic design. Some see themselves as artists, and some as strategists. We’ve begun to settle into Capstone ideas that are exciting and ambitious. It’s an ever-present reminder that 10 months is so short and Elon iMedia is so jam-packed with the development of skills that will stay with us even as technology inevitably changes.

Perhaps without even noticing, we’ve begun to become “T-shaped” professionals— the most valued and coveted in the industry. “T-shaped” professionals have a base of broad skills, but a deep expertise in one or two areas. The Elon iMedia program is designed in a way that encourages students to become “T-shaped”, putting us at a great advantage professionally and personally.

Elon iMedia encourages a “T-shaped” development of skills

As we power through the rest of the semester, each and every one of us will continue to refine our “T”. We will become respected experts in a particular subject within Powell Hall, preparing us for a career in which we are respected experts in the professional world. We are so excited to share our skills with you in coming months!

Embrace the “T”!

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Finding our way

As the leaves continue to fall and November draws near, Elon iMedia’s Class of 2016 is fast approaching the end of our first semester. Yes, we’ve already done quite a bit, but it’s still hard to believe how far we’ve come in such a short time. Each paper, project and assignment offers a unique learning experience, and with each experience, our professional interests take shape. I’m looking forward to so many more great things to come.

Up next is spring registration. The time has come for us to choose electives and we’ve got the hefty challenge of deciding what three classes to take out of some interesting options. There’s SEO, Analytics and Social Media, Multimedia Storytelling, Virtual Environments and Application Development, just to name a few.

We’re also preparing for fly-in projects for the winter term where we’ll experience working as a professional team on a project for the public good. Initial planning is an essential part of the process. Groups are assigning roles to team members and making connections with clients to discuss project goals.

Class projects continue with group and individual assignments in usability testing, creative audio slideshows and website development. We’re learning to use a number of tools in the process and how to apply them in our projects.

We’re also networking with amazing alums and other industry professionals who visit campus to meet with classes and students one-on-one to discuss working in the real world. They also offer up their experiences in applying the skills that we’re learning in the iMedia program.

All of these experiences will impact our professional growth. When we started the program, some of us arrived with a vision of what we wanted to do, some of us didn’t, and many of us have gone back-and-forth a few times. As our skills continue to grow, that vision will become clearer. We certainly have the support and resources to figure it out. Until then, we’ll keep forging ahead to more exciting things to come.

There’s No Place Like Elon Homecoming 2015

By: Amber McCraw, Assistant Director of Career Services, School of Communications

Elon’s iMedia Class of 2016 is 3 months into the 10 month program and they are doing everything they can to make the most of their “sandbox time” as advised by iMedia alum, Conor Britain earlier in the year.

For those who don’t know me, my name is Amber McCraw and I am the new Assistant Director of Career Services for the School of Communications. My role on this blog is to offer career advice to our students as they progress through their time here. So, it’s only fitting with Homecoming upon us that I offer some words of wisdom about how to make the most of a nostalgic weekend.

Homecoming means throngs of alums will be returning to campus for football, tailgating, and reunions of all kinds. While they may primarily be back on campus to catch-up with old friends, share updates with former professors, and take in all of the changes the campus has experienced since they last returned, they are also here to give back. So, what is my key piece of advice to you before the weekend is over?

Network, network, network!

From a football game to shared meals, a 5K and many impromptu gatherings, take advantage of the opportunities to interact with iMedia and COM alums throughout the weekend. The School of Communications will be hosting several events designed for this opportunity and you don’t want to miss out. Don’t be afraid to step up, introduce yourself, and strike up a conversation because you never know where it may lead. They’ve been in your shoes before, so who better to talk to about your experiences.

If you’re feeling anxious, use the tips below to make your networking experience a success:

  • Find a reason to strike up a conversation. You both have something in common as an alum and current student, so finding something in common shouldn’t be hard. Compliment them, bring up the weather, or crack a joke if you have a sense of humor.
  • Having trouble finding someone to talk to? Find someone standing alone – chances are they are looking for someone to talk to as well. Or, find a group of people where you know at least one person already.
  • Have business cards ready to go when the conversation turns to professional interests. (And don’t forget to ask for theirs in return).
  • Connect on LinkedIn and send a personalized message. Thank them for talking with you and follow-up on any requests.
  • Continue the conversation and keep in touch.

Have any other networking tips that you’ve found helpful? Feel free to share.

Happy Networking!!

Mid-Way Through and Going Strong!

This week marks the halfway point of our first semester in the iMedia program. With midterm papers and projects being turned it, it’s now easy for us to understand just how much knowledge this program will provide for us. At this point, we’ve learned a few things and have turned in a few projects.

Here’s a look at what we’ve done so far:

  • Decided on and researched what we hope will be our capstone projects- Though some people will change their minds, we’ve spent the last six weeks researching and writing a literature review that explains a topic that we are interested and are excited to explore.
  • Coded a few websites- Whether writing media queries to make a site responsive, using frameworks to create mock-ups or making our resumes interactive, we’ve got a lot of HTML, CSS and JavaScript under our belts.
  • Made art- At this point, we’ve showed our fellow class members who we are through self-portraits and created typefaces for an Alien race of our choosing. The creativity of this year’s class is truly evident through the innovation and uniqueness that has been shown through these projects.
  • Programmed…A lot- Though we’ve spent most of our time until now trying to understand the basics of using JavaScript, we’ve just recently learned how to apply these languages and create basic sites. This week’s big project is our midterm JQuery assignment where we have to make a gallery explaining how to do an activity. This project has tested the limits of many of us as we’ve spent hours trying to create a simple gallery website. However, no need to worry because we all know that it’s worth the hard work and the feeling once you’ve figured it out is better than anything else.

So why should you care about all the work that we’ve been doing? What does this mean to you? iMedia is special because of the condensed time frame of the program. 10 months is an extremely short time to learn this skills, but somehow it’s possible. However, iMedia is about more than just learning technical skills. Along with the things we’ve learned in our classes, we’ve learned that iMedia becomes a family over time. Late nights and group projects mean that you truly get to know who you’re working on and those tough days become easier because everyone is going through it together and you have each other to lean on.

So, after finishing roughly a fourth of my Master’s program, I can confidently say that things are going well for everyone. Let’s hope that everyone has a chance to rest and rejuvenate over fall break because, when we come back, we have 7 months to go!

2016 Fly-In Destinations Announced!

One of the first things we learn in iMedia is that, for the first couple months of school, professors are serious about keeping our fly-in destinations a secret. Yesterday was an exciting day for all of us, because we finally learned about the 2016 destinations! While we still don’t know exactly where each of us will be traveling in January, we know that we’ll be going on one of the following exciting trips for 7-10 days:

  • Professor Nicole Triche, along with Maggie Mullikin, will be taking a group of students to Belize‘s second-largest city, San Ignacio. Students will be working to develop multimedia content for “Cornerstone Foundation Belize“, a local non-profit.
  • Dr. David Copeland’s group will be traveling to the mountains of Costa Rica, where they will live with the indigenous Boruca people, helping them gain web-presence so that Boruca artisans may sell their handmade goods and support their community.
  • Dr. Derek Lackaff will be taking a group to Inverin, an Irish-speaking village on the West coast of Ireland. Students will be helping to create a web-presence for a local program striving to preserve the indigenous Irish language.
  • Professor Phillip Motley’s group will be traveling to the Dominican Republic. Though the exact location has not yet been decided, an invaluable, life-changing experience is surely in order for all.
  • Professor Randy Piland will be taking a group of students to Guatemala. The exact location and project have also not yet been decided, but several potential options have been identified.

On October 6, we will be assigned to our teams following a “drafting” process. Each of us will be given a job duty to perform, utilizing the wealth of skills we’ve already developed in our short time as iMedia students.

Stay tuned for more information about 2016 Fly-Ins!