It’s November already?!

Prior to the start of this year, anyone that I had talked to who had been through the iMedia program would remark on how quickly their time flew by. As I flipped my calendar to November this morning, I thought to myself “boy, they sure weren’t kidding!”  Just yesterday members of our cohort sported some creative costumes in celebration of Halloween, and now today we begin the month of November.

Halloween

iMedia students Kyndall, Kendra, Kaylin, Amanda, Kelsey (me), Tip, and Sarah gather for a photo sporting their Halloween costumes

Though fall break was only two weeks ago, I find myself thinking back to it as though months have passed! Just yesterday we received an email from Dr. Lackaff regarding our pre-proposals for our research paper, an assignment that seemed months away when we learned about it in our final days of our Theory and Audience Analysis class with him just three weeks prior. And to top it all off, next Thursday we register for classes for our spring semester. As such, we are all starting to excitedly plan our next semester. With class options like Virtual Environments, Digital Brand Communication, Game Design and Development, and more, it’s hard to narrow it down to just three elective classes, in addition to our capstone course. Some students will pursue a professional apprenticeship in place of one of the electives, gaining real-world experience in a field that is especially of interest to them. Others will pursue an independent study to learn more about a specific topic with a faculty member that has expertise in that area. No matter which direction we go, our options are exciting and I think I can speak for everyone when I say we are all greatly looking forward to what the spring semester will hold.

Trey working on a project

iMedia student, Trey, working on a class project in our beautiful common space

It’s both exciting and terrifying to think about how far we have come since we started our iMedia journey at the end of July. It’s exciting to think about our future after iMedia, as we have already learned so much and the knowledge we accumulate continues to grow each week. Yet it’s also scary to think about how little time we have left to continue to learn and take advantage of the incredible resources we have at our fingertips in this program. Receiving a master’s degree in just 10 months is an incredible benefit of the iMedia program, yet for those like myself who are interested in such a wide variety of topics, determining a direction in such a short amount of time is without a doubt quite a challenge, though it sure is not a bad challenge to have and one that I continue to embrace as the weeks continue on.

To alumni that visited campus and our new home in Long last week for Elon Homecoming 2017, we enjoyed saying hello and soaking up the advice you offered for the rest of our time in the iMedia program!

Early mornings

Early mornings before the sun has risen in our new home in Long.

 

Advertisements

Eyeing the future

Nine months behind us. One more to go.

It almost doesn’t seem as if much time has lapsed since that first week of iMedia boot camp, when the class of 2017 gathered in the classroom of our home base, the second floor of Powell. It was during that first week when Professor William Moner asked the class to write responses to four questions on index cards and suggested that what we wrote could later serve as a point of reflection. Some of us heeded that advice.

Beth Pandone keeps her card on the bulletin board above the desk in her bedroom.

IMG_2469

“I like to write down my goals and go through with them,” she said. “This card seemed like an interesting way to keep track of my goals and how I felt in the beginning of the program.”

Although she describes her responses as “vague and basic,” the goals she described then still align with her current plans.

“I still want to create content that is exciting and creative as well as help others,” Beth said. “I think the program allowed me to build the skills needed to do this, and my capstone, which focuses on education and the environment, shows that my goals and focus have stayed the same through this all.”

Now, Beth’s interests have evolved beyond broadcasting to include digital strategy and UX research and design.

Sam Solomon carries her index card around in her backpack. Sam wrote in now-faint pencil strokes that she wants to design and she loves to be creative. She wants to use design for a greater purpose, to improve eh world. As for iMedia, she wrote in August, she wasn’t sure how it would fit into her plans, but “it is a stepping stone.”

image1

When the program began, Sam wanted to get better at coding. “I can say that I have done just that,” she said. “(I) still have a ways to go, but I definitely know more than I did nine months ago.”

I am now way more interested in interactive design in  general. Prior to iMedia it was hard to imagine what I could do with a masters degree in interactive media but now my eyes have been opened and my head is full of so much knowledge about interactive design.” You can see more of Sam’s design work here.

As for me, I don’t know where put my index card. Good thing I know myself and that I’m prone to lose things. I’m sure that’s why, after writing my responses, I snapped a picture of my index card with my phone. I had forgotten about the picture until I was scrolling through my library recently and puzzled for a second over recognizing my crooked script. The next surprise was how, before dozens of times when I succumbed to fits of doubt about life after iMedia, I seemed to know what I wanted.

IMG_6346

Our class was the second one asked to complete the index card activity, which is meant to help students to start thinking about their progression toward completing a capstone project and post-grad life.

Students often come into the program with more ambitious projects in mind, Moner said. “The reality at the end of the program doesn’t always match, but the intent is still there.”

Looking back at the index cards helps foster a sense that students really accomplished what they wanted initially wanted to. “It might not have been the exact outcome, but … you were going in the right direction,” Moner said.

When I applied to iMedia, I was all but certain I wanted to find some way to launch my own hyperlocal journalism startup. I knew I needed to learn to code, and I felt confident I would master it even though I had already had a series of freakouts while attempting to learn Javascript. I didn’t know there would be so, so many more to come. Even then, I knew I wanted my work to have a broader impact, which is also something I love about journalism. My plans and interests shifted a bit quickly after starting classes last fall. I became interested in content strategy and – another surprise to me – branding. My post-iMedia plans now align my interest in writing and journalism with my newfound interactive skills. I’m excited about what’s next.

Sometimes you have to look back to move forward. Hindsight sharpens the recognition that how far you’ve come makes it easier to complete the journey ahead. Sure, that’s a little cliché, but it’s an idea I’m trying to focus on now that I know the finish line is rapidly nearing on the horizon, but all I see ahead of me is a hill of work I have yet to complete.

“It’s never as bad as you think it is,” Moner said. “And by that I mean, when you’re sort of in the crucible that’s all you can think about, right? But from our perspective, what we see as faculty is a tremendous amount of growth, both in the skills that you have and in the perspective that you bring to new projects and challenges.”

It’s tough to focus on what’s next when you’re still mired in coursework, the job hunt, and piecing together what’s next. Still, in-between hours of studying and working, we have formed lifelong bonds with at least a few of our peers. Maybe more than we can articulate to anyone else who has never experienced this program, we learned to problem-solve and persevere.

Things have worked out for me better than I imagined. I hope that’s true for the rest of iMedia ‘17 or that it will be in the near future.

May the darkest times be when we shine brightest. May we look back on these times with more fond memories than adverse ones. May we find ourselves in the middle of a reality more rewarding than what we ever dreamed each time we reflect on the point when it all started to become possible.

My Mid-Semester Resolutions

20160622_192117

Miramar Beach, Florida

As I’m writing this post, I’m looking out the window at a big patch of green grass, sunny skies, and a clock that’s waiting to tell me in an hour that I’ve earned some beach time. Spring break introduces a challenge to prioritization. On one hand, studies show that taking a vacation (or a break in general) is good for your health. It not only clears your mind to improve your focus when you get back to work, but it also improves your heart health. On the other hand, I made a to-do list of about a million things I should really get done over the break to prevent my workload from being overwhelming next week, and getting all of them done means there won’t be much of a break at all.

As someone who likes to plan ahead, it can be hard to tune out stressors. At this point in the program, there seems to be a lot of stress about finding a job, finishing our projects, and keeping it all together. I decided I would take this break to reflect on what I want my last two months (!!) in the program to look like, and come up with some resolutions to make that happen.

  1. I will embrace everything I have learned about myself and media production in the program. For our fly-in, I served as the Project Manager of the Costa Rica team. The task was very challenging, but I came out of the experience feeling more prepared for real-world experience than I did upon entering the program. It instilled confidence in me that I can handle any challenge that comes my way. In addition to that, I have improved my video editing skills and my knowledge of using DSLRs for videography. I can code a site that doesn’t look like it was made in 1995! I’m still learning every day.
  2. I will focus on my time left in iMedia – not wish it away in favor of getting a job. One of the biggest appeals of this program is how marketable we can become to employers. Elon University provides so many networking and career-building opportunities for us to find our dream jobs. A good portion of our class is made up of students who came straight from undergrad, and that means -for most of us, anyway- that we don’t know exactly what that dream job looks like. There is so much room for trial and error in our job search and in the jobs we take as we figure out what that dream job really entails. My biggest resolution is to focus on what I can still learn over the next few months. That includes editing a short comedy film for Advanced Video Production, mastering Cinema 4D, and learning the Bootstrap framework. I want to dedicate my time to those things- even if it means putting the job hunt aside for now.
  3. That being said, I will still utilize the services offered at Elon. Amber McCraw compiled a fabulous list of tasks to prep for our job search as iMedia students. I will commit to completing most of these tasks before I graduate… after I finish my homework!
  4. I will express gratitude to everyone who has helped me get through this whirlwind of a year. We could not have gotten this far without the support of the iMedia faculty, staff, and our friends and family. I am declaring on the internet in all its permanence that I will write some thank you notes and emails to the people who have supported me on this endeavor. It’s such an easy way to spread positivity and brighten someone’s day, including your own!
  5. I will take that break! For now that means walking on a white sandy beach, but for the next two months I will rest my eyes for a few minutes after editing for hours or walk to Moseley and back between classes. I only have a couple of months left to enjoy our beautiful campus and I can’t let that time pass me by!

What are your mid-semester resolutions?

 

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!

pumped

 

Take Advice to Heart and Look to the Future

By Lindsey Huston, iMedia class of 2012

My classmates and I are in week eleven of fall semester and, although my mind is cluttered with all I have left to do in the semester, I find myself even more excited about all that’s ahead in the iMedia program. Outside of my course work this semester, I’ve had a gamut of other things to plan and contemplate. Dr. Copeland spoke recently about next semester courses. I’m looking forward to my fly-in to Reykjavik, Iceland, where seven classmates and I will work with The Citizens Foundation during the month of January. Also, several area professionals have take the time to give me career advice, reminding me of my passions and goals I’m working towards.

Although it’s important for my classmates and I to submerge ourselves in our course work for the year that we’re iMedia students, it’s also important to remember the relevance our new skills will have in our future careers. This is why I’m thankful for the insight I’ve received from area professionals during this semester, because seeing their passion has driven me to find my own niche in the field of interactive media.

 

Bettina Johnson

As Maggie mentioned in her blog two weeks ago, Bettina Johnson graduated from the iMedia program in May of 2011. She happily found a place at Pace Communications in Greensboro the summer after graduation, working as an interactive content editor and online community manager. I was lucky enough to discuss her time as an iMedia student and her career during an informational meeting we had back in September. Bettina initially interested me, because her undergraduate degree, from Elon, was in journalism. As someone interested in writing, I was curious as to how Bettina transitioned her skills from traditional journalism to working in the field of Interactive Media.

After working for print news, at the Gaston Gazette in Charlotte, and in web development, at Newfangled Web Factory in Carrboro, Bettina decided to add to her digital skills by returning to Elon to get her MA in Interactive Media. I was struck by Bettina’s openness and enthusiasm for her career. She shared, “It’s great to have a job you enjoy and put all your energy into!” Bettina took advantage of her time as an iMedia student, and it’s inspiring to see someone with similar interests as me doing what they love.

 

Ryan Helmstetler

I met with Ryan Helmstetler in October. When Ryan was an undergrad, he had plans of becoming an accountant. He realized his passions fell elsewhere, however, and he is now an account executive for Texas Pete at The Sales Factory in Greensboro. Ryan loves his job as an account executive, because it enables him to “touch every piece” of the Sale Factory’s relationship with Texas Pete and he is able to travel. Curious about advertisement agency life, I was thankful to hear a perspective from work at a smaller agency.

The atmosphere at the Sales Factory was both lively and intimate, and it was beneficial to hear the pros and cons of working for small and large agencies. Ryan also discussed social media strategy, and specifically how beneficial Facebook is to Texas Pete. In 2009 the Sales Factory launched a Facebook campaign with 10,000 samples distributed through Facebook engagement ads and the Texas Pete Facebook page. The Sales Factory projected the samples to be distributed over four weeks, but the campaign gained so much popularity the samples were gone in six days. Ryan emphasized, “You can’t generate sales without research.” It is clear to me that the Texas Pete Facebook campaign was well researched, and that Ryan is passionate about his job. Interested in advertising, I am thankful to have received insight into the world of an advertising agency.

  

Jessica Byerly

Two weeks at ago, Jessica Byerly discussed with me all she does at G-Force Marketing Solutions in Greensboro. Jessica is a digital marketing strategist who considers herself somewhat of an anomaly. Although she is the often viewed as an IT resource at G-Force, she happily lives on a farm with her husband and child and is passionate about both farm animals and Twitter. I was pleasantly surprised to get the chance to hear from someone living out multiple passions, both in lifestyle and career, and I got to see first hand the time she puts into account analytics.

Similar to my interest in Bettina’s journalism past, I was curious when listening to Jessica’s story because she transitioned from a career in traditional, print journalism into a career in digital technology and analytics. Jessica loves her job, and is persistent in keeping up with her field that is “constantly changing”. She describes her main responsibility at G-Force as dealing with numbers, and she showed me the pages and pages of reports she produces to confirm the best return of investment for clients, in regards to how G-Force is marketing their brand. Jessica told me, “There has not been one morning I have woken up and not been excited to come into work at G-Force.” This is the kind of passion I’m looking for in a career, and it has been refreshing to hear from so many individuals passionate about their careers in interactive media.

 

As we are now in November, my classmates and I look ahead to final semester projects, papers, etc. However, it’s important to look even further ahead. Although we should live consciously in the moment, in order to soak in as much as we can from iMedia, I also can’t help but to have hope for a future career, using my skills from iMedia, that is as fulfilling as the careers of the professionals I’ve received insight from during this past semester.

The Halfway Point

BY COLLEEN CALLAHAN, ELON IMEDIA CLASS OF 2010

I can’t believe it’s been a year since my Winter Term trip in 2010.

I too, like Meghan, visited Costa Rica, developed a project for the common good at EARTH University and learned about living “Pura Vida.” At this point last year, as I’m sure current iMedia students are realizing, I said to myself: “Oh. My. Gosh. I’m over halfway finished with this program!” It was both exciting and terrifying.

While it’s easy to get caught up in in the whirlwind of graduation and assignments, looking back there are certain things I wish I would’ve started developing and fine-tuning at this point. Without further ado, here’s what I recommend to iMedia students at the halfway point in preparation of the real world (and anyone else who wants to get ahead).

1. Focus Your Social Media Sites

In the iMedia program, we created a Twitter account, multiple blogs, a Delicious account and more. In the first semester, much of this was trial and error. We found our styles, fortes and which platforms we liked. Now, it’s time to go back and make it professional. Tailor it to the career you’d like–delete anything that doesn’t fit. Then continue on whatever path you set for yourself. I’ve just now started doing this (you can follow my Daily Music History tweets via @collcallahan) and realize I should have done this much earlier.

2. Incorporate Informational Interviews With Projects

One of the best assignments our professor, Janna Anderson, had us do last year included interviewing at least 4 professionals for a research paper. While most of us probably dreaded mustering up the courage to reach out to strangers, this is one of the best things students can do to prep for a career. Projects and papers give the perfect reason to reach out to a professional and ask for help and advice. Flatter them, and make a connection. Once you do this, develop a rapport and stay in touch with them till graduation. One of my peers from undergrad did this and landed a summer internship at NBC. You will need mentors and connections, and you might as well do it now.

3. Know What Matters to You

Last year, the best piece of advice I received from a professor was to prioritize. It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of classes and assignments. However think about it–which one will help you most directly in your career path and future? Which will go in your portfolio? Which will you talk about in an interview? Put forth your best effort in those assignments. I’m not saying don’t do your other work, but always keep in mind what will get you ahead and make you an expert in your field. This can also apply to undergrads, high schoolers, or anyone without enough time in the day.

Good luck, class of 2011, with your second semester. It will go by way too fast.