Capstones: Can we do it?

What do you want to be when you grow up?

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This question has been posed a lot these last few weeks. It started in the fly-in. We had to start thinking about life after the program is over. What does that look like? Are you going to be a designer? A content strategist? A user experience designer? A coder? Who do you want to be?

 

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Don’t worry none of us know. 

Our capstone is the culmination of everything we have learned, but it also has a specific purpose. It is the best representation of ourselves and our abilities to show prospective employers. The goal is to play up our strengths. 

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Coming up with that idea, that perfect representation is extremely terrifying. We keep getting asked and are asking others, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” “How does this project get you there?” We toss around ideas, we help each other punch it up, and we worry. Is it good enough? Can I do it?

We are going to be spending months working on this one project. It has the potential to be anything we want it to be. That is slightly terrifying. Where do we start? Do we have time? How are we going to do not only this amazing project, but a portfolio? And don’t get me started on our other classes.  But,  underneath all that fear , this project is extremely exciting.

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I can make anything I want. I have complete creative freedom. Professors can guide me to the best outcome, and classmates can help me flush out concepts, but at the end of the day, this is me. 

So, while everyone in iMedia 2017 is stressing, there is no question in my mind that there are going to be 25 amazing projects. We all have such different personalities, no one is doing the same thing.

For the students in the program, breathe, we’re going to be great.

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For prospective students, don’t let this scare you, this is the most exciting thing we have ever done. Like skydiving without the plane, or chance of death. 

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My classmates will disagree, they will say its horrible. But, we’ve said that about everything so far, and everyone has said later that the experience was the best they’ve ever  had.

All I know is that while it is inevitable that we will stress out about our projects, and there will be lots of longs nights, endless coffee and frustrations, we will all make it. We’ll end the program saying, “I did this. I know who I want to be.”

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It’s About That Time

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

As the Spring semester starts, our iMedia students are reminded how close graduation actually is and the reality that the job search process is going to soon start. With their course load and capstone projects filling up their schedule, we encourage them to get an early start and set aside time to devote to it throughout the semester. Below is a check list of things to remember and work on throughout the process.

  • Update your resume with relevant course work, software and equipment skills, fly-in projects, and any freelance work completed since the start of the program.
  • Create a cover letter draft to be edited and used as a base for applications that describes your relevant experiences and career goals.
  • Update your online portfolio with samples of your work from courses, the fly-in experience, and other projects.
  • Create or update your LinkedIn profile with your experiences and a custom URL. Use LinkedIn to reach companies and connect with alumni from Elon and your undergraduate institution.
  • Make an appointment with the Assistant Director of Career Services for the School of Communications (Me) to have your materials reviewed before beginning the application process.
  • Craft a list of cities you have an interest in moving to and start to make a list of companies in each of those cities that you would like to work for.
  • Attend the Spring Job & Internship Expo on Thursday, March 2nd in Alumni Gym from 2:00-5:30 pm to network with the 80 employers who will be in attendance. Download the free Career Fair Plus App to see who is attending.
  • Add the Elon Com-Advisor as a friend on Facebook to stay up to date with daily job announcements .
  • Search for opportunities on the Elon Job Network. This is an exclusive database just for Elon students and alumni. These employers specifically want Elon talent.
  • Schedule a mock interview to practice speaking about your skills and experiences as they relate to the job you have applied for.
  • Let me know once you have accepted a position!

It is an exciting time for our students as they both finish up their time at Elon and prepare for their time after Elon. The SPDC and SoC have great resources to assist in the process. We are so proud of the great work they have completed and can’t wait to hear as the job offers roll in.

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iMedia fly-in: The trip not taken

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

— Robert Frost

The road winded through the mountains, past colorful, tin-roofed houses crammed together along the sides. As the bus moved through the Linda Vista, the translator shared some of the community’s history.

The green field where children play soccer was once a landfill. Children used to say their parents were “divers” – a reference to salvaging items from the trash, not exploring the oceans in scuba gear. In many cases, the translator explained, the owners of the houses we passed by were squatters; they didn’t own the land beneath their humble homes.

This was the first introduction to a community where Fundación PIEDAD, one of the fly-in clients, operates a school, Escuela Linda Vista. It is not a place I would have seen had I traveled to Costa Rica on my own instead of for a fly-in as a member of Team Pura Vida ’17.

Looking back, much of what I enjoyed in Costa Rica were experiences I normally avoid when traveling.

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I usually insist on eating out when I travel, although I try to favor locally owned restaurants over restaurant chains. I usually turn down offers to stay at someone’s home and eat a home-cooked meal. My view on this changed in Costa Rica.

The fly-in team ate two meals cooked by a local woman and her mother and served at their home. I enjoyed and appreciated the meals, but it wasn’t until I was back in North Carolina that the importance of that experience sank in. I can’t take full credit for the revelation. While talking with Amanda Jones (program manager for Team Inspire and Ice) about our respective fly-in experiences, she mentioned what it honor it was for my team to get to share a meal with someone in their home. I just take credit for recognizing the truth in what she said.

Had I traveled on my own, I would have chosen a different hotel, maybe one owned by a chain in different part of the city. But the first morning, I immediately took pictures of the mountain view from the window of my hotel room to share with friends and family. One of my favorite memories from the hotel is when I spent way too much time using broken Spanish and inadequate hand gestures trying to ask a woman who, I think, manages the business, if I could pet her dog. After she brought over two more people, and after several failures with Google translate, we reached a point of understanding. Petting the dog — a friendly Shar-Pei with a loud, gruff bark — made my day.

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When I travel, I avoided walking for any substantial distance in unfamiliar places. The scenery around me is typically a blur from a car window instead of something I strolled (or huffed and puffed) through.

If left to my own trip-planning devices, I would have missed out on what felt like an authentic experience.

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In his poem The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost describes how someone feeling nostalgic and sentimental exaggerates about the importance of a mundane decision they once made. Maybe I’m already doing that now as I reflect on the fly-in to Costa Rica, which is already almost a month away in my rear view. Either way, I do know this: I enjoyed the trip overall. I felt I got a fairly authentic sense of the country in a short amount of time. Yes, it’s silly to feel a little sentimental about wiping away layers of volcanic ash from my phone and laptop screens, but not to remember the awe I felt while watching a seemingly endless landscape of mountain slopes and caverns pass by on one bus trip. I still smile at my grainy iPhone photos and remember marveling at the pink-mottled sky above the mountains at sunrise and at dusk.

The fly-in is yet another example of how iMedia has pushed me outside of my comfort zone. At numerous times, I have had to embrace change and the unknown.

Doing so has made all the difference.

#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

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A Well Deserved Break

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Well, we finally reached the end of our first semester of grad school. We have written the papers, coded the websites, and completed the projects. As we all reflect on this semester, we realize just how much we have learned and how much we have grown. During Bootcamp, our professors joked that by this point, we would have learned new languages and would be making jokes about coding. At the time, we couldn’t comprehend coding or being able to joke about it. However, now we understand jokes like this:

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We have learned more than we ever could have imagined, made projects we never thought we could make, and are excited for our fly-ins in January and our next semester in the program. At last, we can see that we can make it through and come out true masters. We can also take time to realize how close we have all become, and how we all help and support each other. We really have become an iMedia family!

Now, we can all get the break we need and have earned before we get back to the grind. So, until next semester, enjoy the break and Happy Holidays!

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Final(s) Words of Encouragement

There are only 10 school days left of the semester, andspongebob-brain-fire the iMedia hallway looks a little something like this…

Okay, so that’s a little dramatic. But with looming fly-in prep plus projects, papers, and presentations ahead with so little time to complete everything, overall morale is much lower than usual. There’s no doubt in my mind that undergraduate students and professors are feeling the exact same way!

For my last post of the semester, I want to reach out to anyone experiencing the chaos and stress of finals week with some words of encouragement and tips on how to make it through.

  1. Pick a positivity mantra or motivational quote and make it your desktop and phone background. Every time you see it, take a second to breathe and internalize those words. My personal favorite is “Get up. Get coffee. Get on with it.” I need to give myself a little tough love to get crankin’!
  2. Make a master list. And then a mini list. Make a list of every single project and assignment that is due before the end of the semester. Then, make smaller to-do items under each that outline your plan for getting it done. Every item you check off will pack the motivational punch you’ll need to power through the rest of the semester!
  3. Know you’re not alone. As I said earlier, there are millions of students experiencing the stress and deadlines and pressure you’re experiencing. Reach out to a classmate or professor and grab coffee with them. Talk about your plans for Winter break or even your plans for the weekend. In other words, get school off your brain for a bit!
  4. Try to eat as healthily as possible. Avoid sugary drinks and too much junk food – you’ll zap your energy and feel too sluggish to focus. Snack on apples, oranges, or carrots with hummus for a crunchy, hydrating energy boost!
  5. Keep the big picture in mind. I know that in six short months I will have my Master’s degree and a year of intensive learning under my belt. I’ve met so many amazing people through this program and learned so many new skills. While the end of the semester can feel like the end of the world, there are so many positive memories to reflect on and even more to be had in the future.

Here’s to the next two weeks – we can do it!

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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!