Introducing Our #iMedia18 Bloggers

The fall semester is in full swing and Elon’s ninth M.A. in Interactive Media class is busy with class projects, Winter Term fly-in prep and more as they discover all that the program has to offer.

#iMedia18 is eager to share their experiences with you right here on the Eye on iMedia blog.

You’ve already seen great posts from Kendra Sharpe and Kyndall Dysard. Check out the full slate of students you’ll hear from this year and read their full bios here. But don’t be surprised if a few others post from time to time.


Kyndall Dysard


Jess Farmer


Kelsey Lane


Kendra Sharpe


Kaylin Skipwith


Ashley Sugg


Amanda Travis

In addition to the students’ perspectives, you’ll read posts from a few staff members. Maggie Mullikin, Coordinator of Graduate Outreach and Special Programs, will discuss happenings and careers with iMedia alumni; Amber McCraw, Assistant Director of Career Services, Communications, will discuss career development; and Tarah Holland, Assistant Director of Graduate Admissions (that’s me), will discuss a variety of topics related to iMedia admissions. We may also have a few guest posts throughout the year.

Please be sure to subscribe/follow the Eye on iMedia blog to keep up with #iMedia18 this year. You can sign up by clicking “Follow” in the bottom right corner of your screen.

For more about the iMedia program, visit and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Demand for iMedia Skills Continues to Grow

You’ve probably started to notice the shift. #iMedia17 has shared details about projects, offered insight about class assignments, and now, students are preparing for the end of their 10-month graduate school journeys. With just a little more than two months left before graduation, the job search is on and the pace for life after iMedia will be soon be set for these budding professionals.

And there’s a lot to look forward to. A quick internet search sheds light on how much digital and creative skills are in demand in a wide range of industries. Look further and you’ll learn more about the benefits of working in digital careers, key skills needed and the most sought-after job titles.

With help from CNNMoney and Payscale, let’s take a peek at a few iMedia-friendly positions and the job outlook of each. In the Best Jobs in American 2017 list, these sources highlight the “top 100 careers with big growth, great pay and satisfying work.” Here are 10 jobs from the list that are popular among iMedia graduates.

#1 – Mobile Applications Developer $97,100 19%
#14 – Webmaster $61,200 27%
#26 – Community Relations Manager $63,600 10%
#30 – Brand Manager $89,800 9%
#42 – Social Media Manager  $57,400 9%
#47 – Front End Developer/Engineer $81,000 27%
#56 – Videographer $49,600 12%
#57 – User Interface Designer $73,800  27%
#68 – Content Strategist $84,400 19%
#99 – User Experience Designer $85,900 13%

Visit CNNMoney for the complete list. For more about the Elon M.A. in Interactive Media program, visit


A Personal Profession

I have lived in three different states in the last six months.  Although the process of packing and moving halfway across the country was daunting, I am so thankful that I’m here today.

3w9a9787Last year, I was teaching horseback riding lessons, writing papers, and organizing philanthropy events. I felt that I had a realm of expertise in each of those spaces.  Although the familiar is what I used to enjoy, stepping outside of that comfort zone has caused me to grow as an individual.  The program was intimidating; I was told that I would eat, sleep, and drink iMedia.  The 10-month immersion promised a whole new journey away from my space of comfort, a journey into new and exciting (sometimes scary) experiences.  The intensity of iMedia certainly lives up to its reputation, but I have also discovered a crucial hidden bonus that was neither disclosed nor advertised.  This bonus is not learned in the classroom, and it isn’t something that we can necessarily place on our resumes; this bonus is camaraderie.

Camaraderie didn’t start immediately. We were a medley of personalities and strengths awkwardly plopped into Powell room 210, but we slowly became united throughout our journey in the program.  Camaraderie began in an edible form, specifically, in the form of coffee and breakfast—the perfect duo.  Slowly but surely, we acquired three different coffeepots in the lounge, assorted K-cups, and a steady rotation of muffins, cookies, and doughnuts.  These little pick-me-ups were weekly highlights amid the stress of Dr. Lackaff’s class, and each peace offering provided subtle appreciation for our fellow classmates and our mutual struggles.  In addition to caffeine and sweets, we started a GroupMe to keep in contact with one another and clarify assignments.  Soon, though, we began to utilize one another for more than just academic sanity—we became a family.

GroupMe quickly merged into a platform for non-school related activities in our limited spare time.  The first movement was a “Game Night,” hosted by Darrien, and since, it has become somewhat of a tradition.  Each Friday, a classmate hosts Game Night as a detox from the week, and we play Trivia, Uno, and Battle of the Sexes.  14855925_10211408030585920_5000333281743206314_oRecently, these Fridays have turned into potlucks, too (we’re clearly food-driven people).
Last week, Ashley arranged a festive party where we gathered to watch skits, sing karaoke, and paint pumpkins.  On Halloween, many of us coordinated wearing onesies for the day.  We have begun to rely on one another not just for the answers inside the classroom, but for the relaxation outside of the classroom.

Our camaraderie will grow even further throughout the year, and eventually, we might be relying on one another for more than just another cup of coffee or another round of Uno.  Instead, we might be relying on one another for a recommendation at the company of our dreams.  My 25 classmates have individual and admirable skills, and I’m proud to call them not just classmates, but also friends and future professionals.  Back in August, I took each of my classmates for granted.  I figured that I would develop some friendships, but I never really thought about the depth and importance of these connections.  I never considered the future implications, and I never considered the impact that each individual would have on my experience in the program as well as my career after the program comes to a close.  Networking and moving toward the next step might seem intimidating at first, but it’s just another journey, and this time I have 25 people to help guide me along the way.


Give Yourself an Exercise Break

By Stephanie Schwartz, Elon iMedia Class of 2013

I was only two days into Bootcamp when my hand started bothering me. Oh no, I thought, as I rubbed my wrist, flashing back three years to a workplace-related injury. By the end of the week, I was frantic. My entire right arm was hurting me. An old injury had resurfaced with a vengeance, but I knew there was no way I’d ever be able to get through this computer-heavy program with this much pain, let alone the next week.

I, like the rest of my iMedia cohort, knew when I chose this program it was going to be intense. Studying interactive media, obviously, and living in the twenty-first century, my classmates and I knew it was going to involve a lot of time sitting in front of a computer, editing, tweaking, designing. But we didn’t quite realize that the nature of the program was going to mess with our bodies.

The piles and piles of homework seemed never-ending – the only way to get through it was to take it one day at a time. There was always something to read, a project to work on, a dreaded Flash assignment to start, and many of us felt that we could barely keep up. And then our advisors and professors would remind us about portfolios, conferences, competitions, outside projects and job searching tactics, which only served to work us up into another tizzy.

To say we were stressed is laughable. Stress is par for the course here.

But we also were in pain.

Eye strain. Sore backs. Numb fingers. The lack of sleep and odd eating habits weren’t helping, certainly, but that’s part of school. The pain, which was too common and too frequent to be an aberration, is not.

With our tight schedules – five classes, a seminar and a workshop for the first half of the semester – finding time to exercise was tough. But several students, myself included, realized that we needed that breather.

“I handle everything by eating sweets and exercising twice a week. Counterproductive, kind of, but it works for me,” said Dioni Wise, who takes Zumba classes in Greensboro, where she lives, twice a week. She also added that her commute gives her some down time where she can’t work on work, even if she is just sitting in a car.

Other students, like Ruth Eckles, say that the commute – she drives from Durham – is relaxing because it forces her to step away from the madness and focus on something else.

However, that’s not a real break. She quickly noticed that she was stressing herself out. “Working so hard in the program, I pretty much dropped all my personal self-care regimen (eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep, being social with friends), telling myself ‘there’s no time!’ Over time, this has caused my anxiety to escalate and as a result, it felt harder to concentrate, and I just felt physically and emotionally bad. I could tell if I kept it up, I was heading for a serious case of depression. I knew I needed to nip that in the bud and be more proactive. So I basically have just been making myself do all those things I tell myself there’s no time to do: I work out, I get enough sleep,” she said.

Other students echoed her sentiments. Marshall Beringer realized that his lower back pain was “probably due to the amount of sitting in front of a chair while working on the laptop. Now, I’ve been taking more breaks by walking around for a little bit. That actually seems to be helping quite a lot.”

Beringer and Eckles have the right idea. Even though our 10 months here gives us the feeling that there’s never enough time to devote to everything we want to do, we need to fit in exercise breaks, even if it is just a walk around campus. Those walks stimulate thoughts, open up our mind and can lead to inspiration or a breakthrough in a way that staring at code for ten minutes won’t.

As Elon students, we also have access to a large gyma swimming pool, and a program where $20 will get you unlimited exercise classes like yoga, Pilates, kickboxing and yes, Zumba for the whole year. If we can find time to get away, Elon is situated near some wonderful parks and hiking trails, and we aren’t far from Greensboro if we want to do some urban exploring.

Keeping our bodies refreshed will help us think clearly, enabling us to focus our energy where it really matters: on our studies. Breaks are good and absolutely necessary, especially in a rigorous graduate program that leaves little time for much else. In between classes, I try to move around, taking quick strolls around campus, and I try to go for a run or do some form of sustained exercise at least once a week – my absolute minimum.

As for that pain: all I needed to do was switch the mouse. Now I just have to make sure that I can teach myself to step away from the computer.