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.

“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!”

The Middle of a Journey

I saw a billboard on I-40 West in the spring of 2012 that featured Elon’s Interactive Media program. At the time, I was a visual artist teaching, selling work in shows and making custom work (when the stars aligned). I was also working a temp job that was going nowhere. Interactive Media sounded intriguing, so I found the website and started exploring.

My next move was an email to Katie Williamson. Intrigued, I came to an open house. Then I made a campus visit. At this point, I was ready to sign on the dotted line. Katie encouraged me to go ahead and put in an application, so I did. Within weeks, I got the wonderful acceptance letter! This was October 2013.

Fast forward to July 2014, and I am in boot camp. What a wake up call that was. My interest in iMedia stemmed from my writing and visual background and the fact that my tech skills were woefully out of date. I had heard about boot camp, but had no preparation for the level of intensity that followed. As a former PC user, I struggled to navigate the Mac, among other things. My 20/20 hindsight now shows me that I should have been catching up on programs like Illustrator and Photoshop, specifically. At the very least, I would have been familiar with the Adobe suite and the layout commonalities of those programs. The production section was especially troubling—I was trusted with a very expensive camera. My hands shook almost every time I picked it up. And my video was simply awful. The subject was “About Me”, but I just wanted to hide. I made it through, though!

The semester started, and I still felt very nervous about every single class and new situation.  As an “older” student, I didn’t feel very connected to my fellow classmates. (So apprehension stayed with me, and getting the class assignments done was like working a 12-hour shift.

However, by the time fall break came, I was still there and making connections with everyone.

Just before fall break we got our Fly In assignments, and I’m headed to Costa Rica. I’ll be the writer for my team. Every week we meet to go over preparations. I’m doing a crash course in Latin American Spanish on Rosetta Stone. As the writer, I am tasked with being the cultural expert and to learn functional Spanish. I’m trying my best not to sound like Peggy Hill, but an accent is hard to erase.

It’s almost exam time now. I just finished a video for our production class, and not only did I not shake when handling the camera, but I even set up and used a shot gun mic. Who knew that would happen?

My favorite shot!

My favorite shot!

There are many projects to complete over then next couple of weeks. Everyone feels the crunch, but we are all in an iMedia boat together. It’s crazy, but I just might make it.

paula macLeod

Triple Threats

By Henry Kean – iMedia Class of 2014

The Doherty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership held its Triple Impact Challenge this past Thursday, in which four teams of iMedia students entered and two placed.

The challenge requires teams with ideas that solve a social or environmental problem, or simply a business idea, to present their idea to a panel of judges. Teams must research the problem, and show that their solution is viable while explaining how they plan on executing it.

Four teams of iMedia students took the Triple Impact Challenge by storm.

Four teams of iMedia students took the Triple Impact Challenge by storm.

With experience in research, design, web development, and presenting, it is no wonder that the iMedia students did so well. The ideas ranged from an after school program that would empower kids and get them involved in solving social issues, to an application allowing teachers to share resources for free. After the pitches the judges asked questions about the research that went into the project and how the teams would plan to execute them.

Something that was really unique about the iMedia student teams was not only the ability to answer the questions with informed and educated responses, but also the skills that they had to execute their ideas. For the applications that were proposed the judges would always ask who would develop them, and the iMedia students would always stand a little taller as they responded “we would”.

While many of us may not know where we will be after graduation. This challenge reinforced that the skills we are learning in the iMedia program are indispensible. Being able to propose a business idea and say confidently that you are the graphic designer, developer, and came up with the idea on your own from conducting research is something that very few people have the ability to do. But in this program, that is the standard. That’s part of the reason it’s so difficult to know where to look for jobs. Not because we don’t know what we want to do, but because we can do it all and that makes narrowing your options down to a specific position that much more difficult.

The good news is, if trying to narrow your path down is too tough, being your own boss and starting your own company is always an option. And if the results of the Triple Impact Challenge are any indication, iMedia students should have no problems in that department.

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?

Create-A-Thon 2014

I love learning.  If I could make a life out of studying I would take on every degree out there that doesn’t involve extensive math skills.  While my love for the classroom is fierce I realize its limitations in providing real life experience.  Last Thursday, Anna Kim, Monique Lewis, and I partnered with iMedia graduates, Renée Robinson and Lou Tufillaro IV, at Sales Factory + Woodbine for Create-A-Thon 2014.

Create-A-Thon written in Legos

Sales Factory + Woodbine uses their Lego wall to kick off Create-A-Thon

Create-A-Thon is a 24-hour marketing marathon held throughout the United States and Canada that provides local nonprofits with marketing strategies and creative materials as part of Pro Bono Week.  This year the event was held on October 23rd through October 24th.  Sales Factory + Woodbine aided 30 nonprofits over the 24-hour period with the help of 47 volunteers.  For Anna, Monique, and myself the event was a way to give back to the community while testing our skills in a real world experience.

Anna worked with NC Dance Project, a nonprofit that works to provide affordable, high quality dance lessons to promote modern dance throughout North Carolina.  She worked with the organization to design a brochure that explained the organization and provided details about their spring schedule.  “It was interesting because I didn’t have a lot of control over the information going into the project but it was eye-opening and I learned a lot”.  One of the most useful skills Anna learned was how to open multiple art boards in Adobe Illustrator.

Anna Kim, Megan McGowan, and Monique Lewis iMedia '15 students at Create-A-Thon

Anna Kim, Megan McGowan, and Monique Lewis iMedia ’15 students at Create-A-Thon

Monique partnered with Mary’s House in Greensboro, which provides housing and life skills training for women recovering from substance abuse.  “I loved the environment of the office.  Even though it was really fast-paced and there was a lot of pressure, I had a lot of fun”.  She redesigned a informational brochure, combined two of the organization’s former logos, and created a new letterhead for Mary’s House.  “It was a real-life experience and it made me love my career choice even more”.

I worked with two organizations, HandyCapable and Seven Homes.  HandyCapable is a nonprofit that provides developmentally disabled adults with meaningful work in a nurturing environment.  For Create-A-Thon I created a tri-fold newsletter to inform donors about what the network has accomplished in the last year.  Seven Homes is a foster care and adoption agency in Winston-Salem and for their organization I designed a two-sided flyer and promotional folder for their new adoption profile network.  Working with a client in such a fast-paced environment was eye-opening and I’m still reeling over the multiple Illustrator artboards.

Table full of promotional media

All of the creative media printed and folded.

Anna, Monique, and I agree that the experience opened our eyes to what life will be like after graduating next May.  We learned so much from our clients and everyone at Sales Factory + Woodbine and we can’t thank them enough for inviting us and helping us grow.  I encourage everyone to take a chance outside the classroom and put your skills to use.  I look forward to attending more events like Create-A-Thon and pairing my classroom knowledge with real-world application.

Helpful Homecoming Advice

By Henry Kean iMedia Class of 2015

After a much needed fall break and a shortened week of classes, the iMedia students got to experience our first homecoming as graduate students and meet with some of our predecessors from years past. On Friday we had a visit from Conor Britain, a graduate of the first iMedia class, who spoke about his experience with finding a job after graduation and what it is like to make the transition from student to professional. It was really useful to hear from someone who has been in our position and not only made it through the program successfully, but was able to secure a job right after graduation that he has stayed at ever since.

iMedia Tailgate

Past and present students mingle along with faculty at the iMedia homecoming tailgate on Saturday

One of the most important things that Conor discussed was how well this program teaches you to market yourself. Regardless of what you want to do with your life, you need some form of marketing skills to make it successfully through a job search. In this program, through different projects and homework assignments you are inadvertently creating your own professional portfolio to display your skills. Just because a website or infographic was required for your class, doesn’t mean it wasn’t professional level work. And chances are if your instructor thought it was great, a potential employer would too. Even if your final submission for a project wasn’t of professional quality, you get feedback so that you can get it there and really show employers what you can do.

This leads me to another point that Conor made, which was that it is important to put in work outside of class. If you only do the work that’s assigned, you will come out with a set number of projects and you’ll only learn from the syllabus. But it’s really important to get life experience and see what kinds of problems and solutions pop up in the field. By working on projects outside of class, you can learn new skills that you can bring in to your class work. Not to mention it will definitely help to improve your creative thinking. In the professional world you’ll be working on what someone tells you to, but you may not have a lot of opportunities to pursue passion projects, or just fun, goofy projects. In graduate school you have the chance to not only do these projects, but combine your skills with all of the other students around you. Which brings me to Conors final, and in my mind, most crucial point: our biggest assets are each other.

We are all in the same boat as iMedia students, cruising towards a common goal. Chances are if one person is having a problem, someone else will be encountering the same issue and you can work it out together. Or perhaps they’ve already solved the problem and can teach you to do the same. But even more than just having a group of 31 study buddies, we all have different skillsets and life experiences. Just because I may be interested in web development, doesn’t mean I won’t come across a graphic design position that my classmate would be perfect for. Or maybe a few months after graduation if I’m still taking on the job search, one of my fellow alumni could have an opening at their place of employment and can help me get through the door.

The size of this program and the ways we get to interact every day are conducive to creating an extremely tight-knit community on our second floor, home away from home. Getting to hear from Conor about where this program has taken him and what it could do for my classmates and me was really helpful and reassuring as we head into the second half of the semester and move further into our job search.

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!