Sunny, with a Chance of Employment

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the weather.  Last week, parts of New Hampshire acquired about two feet of snow.  Temperatures hovered around eight degrees.

My mom was pulling out battery operated lamps and preparing food for a power outage.  My dad was bundled in several layers of clothing with his “Nook of the North” hat nestled safely over his ears, pushing a 200-pound snow blower back and forth.  img_9984While my parents desperately tried to alleviate Mother Nature’s damage, I was hiking across a soft bed of pine needles with my foster dog, Raina, panting at the end of her leash.  Clad in only a tank top and shorts, I was enjoying the 78-degree day here in North Carolina.  The contrast of distance and weather felt like a direct correlation to the contrast of time and opportunity.  Although I joked with my parents about our vastly different agendas, it sparked a few realizations, some even deeper than the fluffy snowdrifts back home.

Last year, I was trudging through the inevitable end of my undergraduate career; I felt weighted by the pressure to succeed in the coming months.  I was scared that I had not yet reached my full potential as a student; I was terrified of being buried in debt and being left too far under to ever accomplish my dreams.

Although the thought of stuffing all of my belongings into my 16-year-old minivan was intimidating, the challenge to finish my education was one I thought was worth it, and one I was willing to accept.  Now, I recognize the stark difference that just a year can make.  When I made the move from New Hampshire to North Carolina, I not only left behind the unfriendly weather, I left behind uncertainty.  Now, my horizon is bright with more than just sun; it is bright with possibility.

Elon’s iMedia program has provided opportunities beyond belief.  I have discovered that I am stronger than I ever knew; my breaking point is now nearly impossible to reach (with a coffee in hand, of course).  img_9947
Through a few months of intense study of theory, user experience, content management, videography, web coding, graphic design, and photography, I have absorbed more knowledge than I did in four years.  I developed a passion for photography, and I met many like-minded individuals, developing friendships that I will continue to cherish many years from now.  I had the incredible opportunity to travel abroad to Reykjavík, Iceland, assisting Frumbjörg, a social innovation center, with the production of their first 24-Hour Innovation Day.  Two weeks later, I was able to help present the final project at Elon.

This semester, I will finish my journey by learning more about digital branding, multimedia storytelling, and media economics.  My capstone project provides me with the ability to unite my passion for canine rescue with the strengths I have developed in this program.  3w9a9920When I walk up to receive my diploma in May, I will have completed an entirely self-driven project that reflects both my technical skill and my ethical concerns.  I have grown beyond comparison, and I am still amazed that in just seven months, iMedia has provided me with such a powerful desire to immerse myself in this world.  I’m not quite sure what the future holds for me, but I think that it’s safe to say it is sunny, with a chance of employment.

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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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