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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#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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Inspired, Innovative, Intense: Reflections on the iMedia fly-ins

Aside

Spring semester is here ­- just a few weeks removed from an incredible winter term.

In iMedia, January is all about the fly-in projects. These winter trips allow students to build multimedia projects for the public good and showcase the skills they learned in the fall semester. It was the most challenging and rewarding experience of my career.

My teammate Ashley Deese said it best:

The fly-in gave me an opportunity to work with a real world client and create a multimedia project for a client that would not have been able to afford it. Not only will this experience give me the competitive edge needed to stand out as an applicant when I am applying to jobs but it is also satisfying to know that we did something for the public good.

The process started with the draft. The advisors convened in late September to fill their rosters for the four fly-in trips: one in Cuba, one in Portugal and two in Costa Rica.

Each team spent October, November and December preparing for the trip – practicing video interviews, creating a group blog and coding sites in HTML and CSS for class.

In January, we hit the ground running. Each team had about a week to assess their client’s goals and gather the content for the site. Then we had 10 days or so to design and build the site.

Let me tell you – it was not an easy process. Literally, blood, sweat and tears went into these projects.

But it was rewarding once we presented our projects to our friends, family, industry professionals and iMedia alum on Jan. 24.

Elon iMedia students present a fly-in project.

Photo by Eric Townsend (as seen on E-net)

Here’s a list of the four projects:

Escazú, Costa Rica 

Client: Codece

Seven students built an interactive website for a community-run nonprofit that aims to save the natural beauty, traditions and culture of the young mountains of Ezcazú, which is adjacent to capital city San José.

http://www.codececr.org/

Térraba, Costa Rica

Client: Asociación Cultural Indígena Teribe – Teribe Indigenous Cultural Association

Seven students documented the culture and natural sites of the Térraba indigenous group in southwestern Costa Rica. A government-commissioned dam could destroy parts of the land, on which the people have lived for more than 500 years.

http://terraba.org/

Havana, Cuba

Client: Organopónico Vivero Alamar 

This cooperative farm on the suburbs of Havana provides food and community services to Cubans. Six students documented what the farmers do and how the food travels from the farm to the table.

http://farmcuba.org/

Ericeira, Portugal 

Client: Surfrider Foundation

The international Surfrider Foundation is dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s oceans and beaches. Six students built a site to showcase the preservation and educational efforts of a chapter in the coastal community of Ericeira, Portugal.

http://surfriderericeira.com/

These projects were awesome!

Screen Shot 2013-02-06 at 8.25.19 AM

I managed the project on the Costa Rica trip in Térraba, which is an indigenous community in danger of losing part of its land and culture to government-commissioned dam. The Térraba treated us like family during our visit. They showed us all of their sacred sites, fed us delicious food they grew themselves and even took us rafting in their river.

My team worked really hard to create a site that would help preserve the culture of this wonderful community that we came to love.

“The job they did was of very high quality and very important for us. It is the first time someone did something like this here in the Térraba community,” said Jerhy Rivera, vice president of the Asociación Cultural Indígena Teribe (Teribe Indigenous Culture Association).

The Tico Times

But my teammates and I hit some speed bumps on our journey. So did other teams.

Future iMedia students, here’s the reality of the situation:

  1. You can’t prepare for everything. Everything that can go wrong will go wrong. Your flight will be canceled. You’ll get lost on a mountain for hours. Your client will want something unexpected. One line of code will render your site useless. So be flexible.
  2. Teamwork makes the dream work. Don’t fall prey to the perils of group projects. Try to be positive when things are falling apart. I’ve discussed this before, but learned so much more during the fly-in.
  3. Honesty and openness is key. One day, my teammates basically told me that I was acting like a “military taskmaster” as described by Shawn Achor in The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work. I, being a realist, was focused on the large amount of tasks we had to do and the short amount of the time we had to do them. My teammates wanted me to be to more of a cheerleader instead of a micromanager. Achor wrote: “In short, sacrificing positivity in the name of time management and efficiency actually slows us down.” So after our come-to-Jesus meeting, the team morale shifted for the better.
  4. Fall classes are super important. Learn everything you can because you’ll probably back up your classmates at one point. The coder will help the videographer. The writer will help the photographer. It happens.

My classmates shared more insights.

iMedia13 Quotables

1. Clients won’t always respect your expertise. 2. You have to trust your teammates so they trust you. 3. Preparation is the most crucial factor to success.

Don’t set any expectations for the trip because they’ll be blown away no matter what you think of.

Dont’ be afraid to try something different, whether it’s a skill like coding. It was something I wanted to get better at so being the web developer for my group helped me a lot. Trying different food is also fun, too!

1. Working with a group on something that big means a lot of trust and sacrifice. 2. If there are people not doing their jobs, there better be some people willing to pick up the slack or things won’t get done.

Continue reading

Teamwork is How It’s Done

By Stephanie Schwartz, iMedia Class of 2013

One of the many things the iMedia program prides itself on is that it’s more than technology. The program emphasizes soft skills like presentation and group work just as much as it does learning how to take photographs or shooting video.

Of course, most of us are veterans, in some way or another, of working in groups – the American educational system has made sure of that the past twenty years. But now it’s just a part of the process.

We work in pairs. We work in threes, fours, fives and sixes. Occasionally we get to pick a partner, but sometimes Flash randomly generates our group. Either way, we’re going to get to know how to work with at least one person in our cohort well.

Group work, of course, brings its own challenges and stresses. Especially when there are people in the group strong in one area, it’s tempting that that person takes on the entire task, with others having little or no input. That’s both good and bad – bad because we won’t grow if we don’t experience learning something new, good if there’s one person with the energy, motivation and skill to bring it all together – but scenarios like this are often inevitable.

Personal clashes are also something we all expect, even pinpointing who’s going to get mad at who over what. Whether it’s a group constantly talking over each other or an inability to reach a consensus, that’s really when Jean-Paul Sartre’s phrase “Hell is other people” comes to mind.

Making everyone feel included is important, too. Many of our group projects involve a lot of different, complex components, and these projects are designed to be impossible for one, or sometimes two people, to do well in the time frame given. Sometimes one personality is so dominant that others merely let him lead the way. Other times there’s a laggard – someone without much experience or motivation. How to make sure that everyone is pulling his or her own weight?

Iris Maslow, the project manager for the Portugal fly-in this year, gave one of her tips for working with her group. “It can be hard to work together when we are large in numbers and very opinionated. For fly-ins, I try to delegate and empower everyone to be in responsible for at least one thing. At the end of our weekly meetings (which we do at the same time for consistency), we always walk away with a task that every person is responsible for.”

Everyone should feel included – not only will this alleviate resentful feelings, but boost morale and lead to a higher functioning group, and hopefully a better project.

Juanita Wrenn’s strategy is to have “each person focus on their personal strength. That puts each member in their creative comfort zone.” If two or more people are working on similar things, she tries to find a similar aesthetic so that a consensus can be reached.

It can be difficult, certainly, sometimes to speak up. Ruth Eckles, who describes herself as “a big introvert,” found all the group assignments a challenge at first. For someone used to creating on their own, being forced to collaborate can sometimes seem like an exercise in frustration and wasting time. However, she said, “I’ve discovered that introverts can work just fine with other people, they just need to learn how to do it in a way that works for them. For me that means I like to conceptualize by myself. The thinking part I find I do best alone. Then, when I have several well thought out ideas to present to the group, I feel like I can be a better contributor to the collaborative process. I’ve also found that storyboarding ideas really helps me to be more clear in a group situation.”

Obviously, each person brings their own personality to a group. The best way to deal with others? Know yourself and adapt. After all, as our professors remind us, teamwork is how it’s done.

iMedia Crossroad

By LINDSEY HUSTON, iMedia class of 2012

“There’s fifteen weeks left in the program,” Professor Motley reminded my capstone class today. It’s hard to believe, but with second semester starting, my classmates and I are at a crossroad. I still find myself reflecting on the success of the fly-in groups with our non-profit clients during January, but I know it’s time to submerge myself into second semester.

My fly-in group outside of Reykjavik, Iceland

The fly-in experience is arguably the most rewarding aspect of the iMedia program. My fly-in group, comprised of seven classmates and me, spent nine days in Reykjavík, Iceland learning about Your Priorities, the Citizens Foundation’s web service used to promote online, democratic debate to improve communities. Our goal was to clarify the non-profit’s mission and promote their success, in order to reach a larger, international audience. After our nine days in Reykjavík, my group worked 10 days on Elon’s campus in order to achieve this goal.

We created a social media strategy, six promotional videos, a mission statement, new English copy, and a redesigned WordPress website. My classmates and I naturally fell into roles within our group, and I was our content manager. I worked with our clients to rewrite their mission statement, English copy on their website, and helped the social media team write a strategy plan. Video editing was a main task once we returned to Elon, and we all edited using Final Cut Pro X and After Effects. I’m proud to say our clients described our work as “excellent” and “some even close to perfect”, but I’m prouder that we spread the mission of the Citizens Foundation.

Looking ahead, this semester looks vastly different from first semester. With more room in the curriculum for autonomy, I’m beginning an internship with Pace Communications, a capstone project, and a job search. After seeing what my classmates and I were able to accomplish with our fly-in groups, I can’t wait to see what we’re able to accomplish in all of our pursuits this semester!

Pura Vida: The Elon Experience

BY MEGHAN GARGAN, ELON IMEDIA CLASS OF 2011

Hola, readers! I have returned from my travels to Costa Rica and have so much to share with you all.

For those who may not know, Pura Vida is a common phrase in Costa Rica that encompass the “no worry, be happy” state of mind. It was something that I know I took to heart during my travels, as well as brought back with me to Elon.

There are so many things I could write about right now, but I guess I’ll just try to sum up the whole experience by saying these trips will change your life, enlighten how you think and alter the way you live. I can’t completely convey how good it feels to give back to an organization that truly needs our skills or to know that we are helping one little corner of the world.

Currently, we just finished presenting our interactive projects to a group of Elon faculty and students and it was amazing to see not only the technical progress of my classmates, but how everyone has changed due to his/her experiences. This may be “tooting our own horn,” but we have become an integrated part of bringing change, awareness and, hopefully, funding to these well-deserving non-profits.

This year clients ranged from an institution that focuses on sustainability in the humid tropics to an organization providing much needed services to the blind to a start-up non-profit encouraging recycling and good waste management to a foundation helping indigenous people seek out much needed medical treatment for those with disabilities.

Interactive projects ranged from creating English and Spanish accessible websites, to interactive brochures to websites developed with CMS (content management system) in mind. Groups are still adding the finishing touches to projects, but once they are completed I’ll be sure to share the links.

As part of our overall project, my group has also put together a mini-documentary that really demonstrates the fly-ins on a much greater and deeper level than I could ever do with just words. So, please enjoy the video below, edited by the great Drew Sykes.

As spring semester kicks off, I hope all us iMedia folks continue to live the Pura Vida lifestyle here at Elon and remember to be grateful for all the little things we have while working towards helping those in need.

New Year’s Resolutions – iMedia Style

BY MEGHAN GARGAN, ELON IMEDIA CLASS OF 2011

Happy 2011 from yours truly! While winter break was relaxing, us iMedia folks are jumping right back into the thick of things.

As many of you may have been able to guess from previous posts, Fly-Ins are RIGHT around the corner. In fact, take off is tomorrow with our two Panama groups up bright and early (4:30 am) to catch a shuttle to the airport with the remaining two groups heading to Costa Rica right behind them. Today we’ve spent a majority of the day packing and preparing for the iMedia project for public good, so as we gear up to start the new year off by giving back to in-need communities, I thought it might be fun to see what else some of my fellow classmates are hoping for in 2011.

Hence, I give you the iMedia Class of 2011 New Year’s resolutions! Enjoy.

In 2011 I plan to continue developing my skills and talents to hopefully land my dream job in Washington D.C.

–       Hayley Miller

My new year’s resolution is to have a better attitude towards Java Script!

–       Alison Hydrick

My new years resolution is to use everything I’ve learned to make a super awesome portfolio page.

–       John Hartley

This year I resolve to narrow down my interests to the job that I am most qualified for and most interested in, and apply for and find a job I will really enjoy.

–       Erika Holland

I want to develop the “Lars Bredahl” brand and build up my portfolio to help me find the job of my dreams!

–       Lars Bredahl

This year I want to focus on making the best choices when it comes to creating my capstone project as well making the most of my internship at Bluezoom. I want to be as prepared as possible come graduation in May.

–       Allie Boardman

I’d love to meet Felicia Day at South by Southwest (SXSW) as I am one of the fortunate iMedia students representing the program at this year’s conference.

–       Mich Donovan

As for moi? In 2011 I want to continue to expand my networking base through capstone partnerships, industry conferences and doing incredible work for organizations both here and abroad — all in hopes that it will lead me to an incredible future career.

How about you? What are you planning to accomplish in 2011? Perhaps apply (and attend) a multimedia-rich, interactive media graduate program? That sounds pretty good to me.