Don’t Know Where You’re Headed? Don’t Fret!

With graduation less than three months away, “what are you going to do?” is the question eating at everyone’s conscience.

Some of us have a crystal-clear idea, and some of us don’t. Either way, that’s totally okay. You’re going to be fine.

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Maybe you’ll land a job that you’ll end up loving right after graduation. Maybe you’ll land a job you’ll end up hating. That’s totally okay. You’re going to be fine. Repeat it to yourself: “It’s totally okay. I’m going to be fine.”

In fact, you’re going to be better than fine. You’re going to rock this whole “career” thing. If you don’t know what you want to do right now, who cares? The average American changes careers several times throughout the course of his or her working life, and 91% of millenials don’t expect to remain in their current position for more than 3 years. 

Taking the time to explore different areas is becoming the “new normal”, and there’s something to be said for experiencing several possible paths before settling into something on a more permanent basis.

The important thing to remember is that everything is a learning experience and, especially in the interactive media field, we can never stop actively seeking out ways to expand our knowledge. Whether it’s via interactions with difficult clients, e-learning courses on topics that interest us, or following industry blogs, every little bit counts in this ever-changing digital landscape.

So whether or not you currently have a good idea of what you want to do in May, try not to view it as settling into a position for the rest of your life. View it as the next step in your lifelong education. You can always shift focuses.

Luckily for you, the iMedia program has thoroughly prepared you to tackle any number of career paths in the digital realm. Our education has sculpted us into flexible, “T-shaped” professionals, and whether we end up loving our first job or hating it, we’re going to be in a fantastic position to grow, transition, and otherwise take the “real world” by storm.

Learning from those who came before us

Today, two of our capstone classes had the pleasure of hearing from former alum, Brenna Mickey ‘14 who now works as an Interaction Designer with Centerline Digital of Raleigh, NC. Centerline started as a small production company focusing on video production, animation and motion graphics. Today, they house nearly 150 employees and focus on content marketing for Fortune 500 companies around the world.

During the presentation, students were given the chance to pick Brenna’s brain about her time in iMedia and how to handle the next three months as we approach graduation. She had a lot of great advice for putting yourself out there and finding the job that is best for you, but summed it up in these five things to consider when looking for a job:

Show your hybrid-ness

  • Building connection points across disciplines makes you more valuable
  • Shows you are open for new ideas, opinions and perspectives
  • A well-rounded “specialist” is hard to find!

Save your process documents

  • They could serve as jumping off points for other projects
  • Reference your “thinking-out-loud” artifacts during interviews (e.g. wireframes, storyboards, sketches)

About those portfolios

  • Speak directly to the work that you did
  • Clearly document or explain the overall business value of the creative work
  • Link to process documents
  • Nix inflated language, like “guru, expert, moguel, rockstar”

Be open-minded to the possibilities

  • Freelance vs. agency vs. teaching vs. professional services
  • There’s more out there than you think.
  • Nothing is permanent!
  • Focus on job descriptions, not titles
  • Same title means different things to different companies

You know more than you realize

  • Confidence! (But not arrogance, you guru, you.)
  • Knowledge gaps exist everywhere: just because you understand something doesn’t mean someone else will

We’re lucky to have so many talented iMedia graduates out there who are willing to help our current students grow. However, no matter the industry, these points can be helpful to anyone looking for a job. So, take note and put yourself out there. Something amazing is sure to come along.

Have degree, will travel

by maggie mullikin

We have our first iMedia graduate in Jackson Hole Wyoming. Drayton Beebe is a 2015 iMedia graduate. We spoke on the phone about her new opportunity out west. I just love how happy she sounds and this is what she had to say,Unknown

“I’m currently working as a graphic design intern at Teton Gravity Research in Jackson Hole, WY. http://www.tetongravity.com

“After iMedia, I took time at home to figure out how I wanted to use my newfound skills, where I wanted to live, and what kind of company I wanted to work for. I knew I wanted to move west and work for an outdoor company doing graphic design. I love skiing and snow sports and am happy to have ended up in Jackson Hole at TGR.I work with the digital and sales teams creating ads for the site, marketing materials, etc. and the content team creating any visual aids for stories from info graphics to photo editing.

“iMedia teaches you a wide range of skills. Figure out which chunk you want to focus on and build your portfolio around that. If you want to be a web developer, find a professional developer’s portfolio to understand how to showcase fully developed sites you’ve built. Then, figure out how to leverage the other skills you’ve learned when you’re marketing yourself in interviews. The iMedia program is truly unique and the first of its kind. One year for a master’s degree, a wide range of digital knowledge, and international project experience puts you on the fast track into the digital space no matter what your previous knowledge or professional experience is.

“I think as students we are hyper focused on the next step forward and we develop tunnel vision to the next goal. I think this sets us up for failure and or disappointment. Since graduation, I’ve learned that patience, thoughtfulness, and quality over quantity, in applications and your portfolio, are important during the job search process.”

Sapient advice from another talented iMedia graduate.

 

 

 

Setting the Course for Capstone Success

We made it! We’re back from our incredible winter term flyins. If you missed our presentations, you can view the replay online here.

So what’s next? We’re a week into our spring and final semester of the iMedia program and we’ve got a lot to think about. We’ll be graduating in a few short months. Before that, we’ve got resumes to update and jobs to apply for. But that’s not all. We also have to conquer the capstone.

In lieu of a thesis, the iMedia program requires that students complete an individual capstone interactive media project accompanied by an explanatory paper. Students come up with their own capstone ideas in the realm of news, entertainment, informational services or strategic communications, and work to transform those ideas into fully functional presentations. Capstone projects are revealed to industry professionals, family and friends at a final exhibition prior to graduation at the end of the semester.

Some students knew what they wanted to do when they entered the program, some are refining ideas developed during our first semester in iMedia and others are still deciding which idea they will commit to. No matter where our passions lie, it’s become clear that setting the course to a successful capstone is a process.

Planning is an essential first step. Many of us will start this planning process by completing a project treatment that delves deeper into our approach to the project. The treatment evaluates purpose, methods to completing the project, technologies that will be utilized or required, and any roadblocks or concerns related to completing the project. Beyond the treatment, we will compare and contrast our projects with existing competitors. In addition, we will use tactics such as Design Sprints to test problems associated with design or other aspects of our projects. We also will consult with others outside of the program to serve as external reviewers of our work.

It’s true, we’ve got our work cut out for us, and this is just the beginning. But there’s no turning back. With just three months left in iMedia, the finish line is in sight.

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!

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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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