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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A Measure of iMedia Alumni Success

Deciding whether or not to go to graduate school can be a daunting task.

Your finances, the need to relocate, discipline and academic stamina are important factors that you may be wrestling with. Just as critical is considering the post-graduate career prospects for the program you’re considering.

erin_turner

Interactive Media graduate Erin Turner ’15 G’16 works as assistant social media editor at Essence Magazine. 

Lucky for you, if you’re looking to earn a M.A. in Interactive Media from Elon, you’ll have a chance to join an impressive list of alumni with exciting careers in both the public and private sectors, throughout the country and abroad.

Since the iMedia program launched in 2009, there have been 257 graduates. Of those graduates, 97 percent are currently employed for such companies as Amazon Web Services, Razorfish, ESPN, Essence Magazine, Automattic, NASCAR, CBS Interactive, Dribble, the Smithsonian, Microsoft, IBM, and the Dallas Morning News – just to name a few.

Among dozens of job titles, iMedia alumni serve as web developers, UX designers, digital strategists, multimedia producers, social media managers and many other highly-skilled roles. Furthermore, these careers most often boast competitive salaries and advancement opportunities.

But these are just a few details about the success of iMedia graduates.

david_kennedy

Employed at Automattic, Interactive Media graduate David Kennedy G’10 develops WordPress themes under the title “theminator.”

If you’ve been thinking about applying to Elon’s Interactive Media program, but can’t make it to a campus visit, join us for our first virtual information session at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 30, via WebEx.

Click here to register for the event.

We’ll be sharing details about this innovative and accelerated, 10-month master’s degree program, including courses, admissions requirements, alumni success and more. We’ll also introduce you one of our professors, who will offer insight into students’ hands-on experiences in classes, work with real-world clients and the program’s state-of-the-art facilities.

For those who attend this virtual information session, we’ll waive the $50 application fee when you apply.

For more information about the iMedia program or admissions questions, please call me, Tarah Holland, at 336-278-7683 or email tholland@elon.edu.

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!!

the start up

Sophie Waller

Sophie Waller is a 2014 iMedia graduate. Sophie is one of a handful of iMedia graduates who went with a start up following graduation. She had tips and insights to share when we met recently in Raleigh.

“I am the Community Manager at Photofy Inc. For starters I run and manage all social media channels for Photofy http://photofy.com/ This is everything from creating and posting content, monitoring all social interaction, and staying on top of complaints and queries.

Marketing is also a large part of my job. We are at the heart of the company focused on design, therefore we have a lot of ‘Featured Partners’ in our app. Featured Partners are graphic designers / typographers / or illustrators whose designs are featured in our app under their name (or company name).

One of my favorite parts of the job is to search through Instagram / blogs / websites etc. to find budding typographers or illustrators who are extremely skilled, yet may not have found enough work they deserve as of yet, to be featured in our app. I reach out to multiple designers on a daily basis to set up partnerships and pitch collaborations with them (each are different) and then arrange licensing with them.

iMedia prepared me for my job in a great way, in the fact that, if you looked at my job from an outside perspective, you probably wouldn’t think it would of helped me at all!

Working for a start up there are ten people in my company in total, therefore there is complete transparency when it comes to the design and business of the app. Although my job is social media and marketing based, because of my background, my input and opinions matter as they come from an educated background.

My boss comes to me with wire frames designs, asks me to contribute new design ideas for the app, I understand coding therefore can manage expectations for clients, and because of my understanding and knowledge of these aspects I contribute business ideas on a regular basis because I am aware of what we our capabilities are.

We are a start up, therefore I have a lot of customer / fan interaction on a daily basis. If ever there is something that is going wrong with a customers app, or they want to know a design question, a how to option, I respond to them directly.

I am very big on customer interaction, yes it might be stressful at times, but one of the biggest accolades we can get, and we have gotten countless times again, is how much our customers appreciate our one to one interaction.

When people message us saying, ‘Your app is amazing, and you’re all so helpful’, that’s the best part of my job.”

Sophie has advice for people considering iMedia.

“If you are on the fence about the program, do it. I was probably about 20% sure I was making the right decision when I joined, and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Plus, it’s a really cool thing to show off about at parties”.

For students currently enrolled –

“Everybody’s path is different.

Please do NOT put an immense amount of pressure on yourself to be happy, settled and with your dream job a week after graduation, because let’s face it, that does not happen to everyone!

Although it may not feel it at the time, but you are in an extremely valuable position when you graduate.

Allow yourself to know your worth, know how hard you have worked, and know the incredible skills you have learned this year that not many people will have. Take a moment to think about what job you really want, not one you feel like you should have.”

 

 

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.

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“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!”

Sage Advice

by maggie mullikin

Molly McBride is a 2014 iMedia graduate with a new job at Mullen in Winston-Salem, NC. She graduated in May and received her offer in July. Molly is Junior Digital Producer and her responsibilities include production of all digital projects and pieces of communication. She works with a cross-functional team to make sure final materials are delivered on time, on scope, and on budget.

Molly had the following things to say about her job, her iMedia experience and some pearls of wisdom for both interested and current students.

“The best part of my job so far has been getting to see how the information I learned in certain iMedia classes is actually used in the workplace.  Mullen places high importance on user experience and it was great to start my job with knowledge of that.

“The iMedia program added so many valuable projects to my résumé which I believe set me apart from other applicants. The winter fly-ins gave me experience working with clients which was a wonderful addition.

“My advice for people considering the iMedia program is to have a realistic idea of what you want your life to look like during and after the program.  For 10 months your life will be dedicated to this program and you will gain so much knowledge. Make sure you are at a point in your life where you can truly dedicate the time and energy needed to excel. It will be difficult to have less time with friends, but the time spent working on projects and going to iMedia events will be worth it in the end.

“For students currently enrolled, my biggest recommendation would be to take advantage of all that is offered to you. The program goes by so quickly, and it’s easy to focus on just getting one assignment done and moving on to the next.  Work hard on your assignments, but also get to know your teachers. Talk to them about things you’re interested in, and spend time outside of class learning more about those interests. Also, take advantage of the career resources that are offered at Elon. Building your network now will be incredibly helpful when you start looking for jobs.”

 

Finding Direction

By Marianne Brigola, Comm Career Advisor

compassAs you’ve been reading in the fantastic blog posts from our current iMedia students, the fall semester is in full swing over here at Elon. Students are in the midst of class, homework and also figuring out what they want to do with their Interactive Media degree. Everyone is different–there are students who know exactly what it is they want to do after graduation and others who are still exploring different industries and jobs.

I’ve already met with several iMedia students to start helping them plan for their job search in the spring. If you’re still trying to figure out how you want to use your new interactive media skills and knowledge, there are two things you need to do: Research + Network

1. Research. Our graduates go on to work in so many different industries with a variety of roles. Some are in client services roles, others on the creative side. Some work in marketing, others work freelance. A few ago, Katie wrote a blog post about our 2014 graduates and some of the great work they’re doing.

Here are a few other websites that can help you start learning more about titles + their job descriptions:

http://www.firebrandtalent.com/resources/job-descriptions

http://www.aaaa.org/agency/compensation/resources/jobs/pages/default.aspx

http://creativeskillset.org/creative_industries

http://www.paladinstaff.com/jobs/careers/

http://css-tricks.com/job-titles-in-the-web-industry/

In addition to researching job titles, you should be researching industries and companies. Would you prefer to work in marketing, or advertising, or public relations? Is a smaller, start-up agency your dream organization or would you like to work for a larger, more established firm? If you’re targeting a specific city after graduation–what companies are located in that city? A quick Google search can help you start building a list of potential target organizations.

2. Network. We talk a lot about how important networking is as a job search strategy–and it’s also important to help you figure out what you’re going to do next in your career! You can learn a lot about a company or a job by looking at their website or reading a job description, but you won’t learn if it’s a good fit for you until you actually talk to someone working at that organization or doing that type of work. LinkedIn makes it so easy for you to find alumni or contacts in a particular industry or job role. Elon University has over 19,000 students + alumni on LinkedIn. That’s 19,000 contacts you could potentially reach out to!  If you’re just getting started on LinkedIn, check LinkedIn’s tips for getting your profile set up.

Don’t forget to go outside of the digital world too–follow up with guest speakers from classes, attended conferences and expos, participate in local meet ups or networking events. The Triangle American Marketing Association and the Triangle Interactive Marketing are examples of two local professional associations that host many networking and educational events in the area several times a year.

Researching potential career options and networking with professionals are the two key things to helping you determine what you’re going to do with your interactive media degree after graduation! Start now to help you focus your job search in the spring. –MA