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.

14595576_10211437126353296_5815095040911008643_n

Advertisements

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

Making Connections: First Contact

By Marianne Brigola, Career Advisor for the School of Communications

Congratulations iMedia students! Y’all made it through the half-way point of the first semester. Today is the first day back from fall break! At this point, everyone is in the midst of the craziness that is graduate school. Classes are in full swing, Fly-In assignments were recently announced and on top of that many of you are starting to get serious about your job search. I’ve met with several iMedia students already + have gotten requests from others to connect with them on LinkedIn.

The majority of iMedia students are probably exploring career options–still trying to learn what they’re interested in, what type of career might be the best fit for them, what skills they’re learning in the program that is the most exciting for them. One of the best ways to learn more about careers + companies is to engage in some informational interviewing and networking! But once you find someone to reach out to–how do you make first contact? Below are some tips to increase the success of your first message/email:

Personalized messages increase your chances of getting a response

Start with a specific subject line: Professionals are busy people–provide them with context about your message even before they open it. “Interested in learning about your role as Web Developer” will inspire more curiosity from the reader that “Informational Interview request”

Introduce Yourself + Purpose: Again, context + personalization is key here. How did you find this person? Did you do a search on LinkedIn, get referred to them by a mutual contact, come across their profile in a group? Let them know how you’re connected. Once you’ve established that–why are you writing. Get to the main point of your message quickly. The shorter + more concise your message is, the better. This potential contact doesn’t have the time to read your entire biography in the first message. This should be more about what you hope to learn from them.

Close the deal + Say Thank You: At the end of an interview, you’ll sometimes hear that it’s important to make sure you close with “The Ask:” When will I hear from you? What are the next steps in this process?  In the first message to a contact, the same principle applies. Make sure you remember to ask for some of their time to learn about their company/role/background, etc. Be specific–how much of their time do you want + how do you want it (typically a 15-20 minute phone interview is a good start). You don’t want to ask for too much of their time and increase the chances of them replying with “No, I don’t have that much time.” And of course, be sure to be gracious and thank them in advance–for reading your message and responding.

SEO Roadshow stops in Elon

A stranger stopped Mark Traphagen (@marktraphagen) at a conference and looked at him quizzically.

“’I know you. You’re in my search results’,” he recalled the man saying.

Mark Traphagen discusses Google Authorship at the SEO Roadshow hosted by the iMedia program on March 1.

Mark Traphagen discusses Google Authorship at the SEO Roadshow hosted by the iMedia program on March 1. (Photo by Iris Maslow, iMedia ’13)

“It was my first moment of being Internet famous,” Traphagen said.

Traphagen, director of digital outreach of the Raleigh-based agency Virante, is listed in more than 32,000 Google Plus circles.

You read that correctly. 32,000.

Traphagen (@marktraphagenand fellow SEO superstar Phil Buckley (@1918), SEO director at Virante, shared their insights with the iMedia community last Thursday about how to improve a personal or business brand’s web presence through search engine optimization.

“You have to think of leading Google through your site like a blind five-year-old.” – Phil Buckley

Associate Professor Amanda Sturgill invited Buckley and Traphagen to move their wildly successful SEO Roadshow from Raleigh to Elon. The current students, alumni and other guests were honored they agreed.

Here are some of top things from the session:

  1. It’s imperative that web developers and SEO specialists have experience in each other’s fields to improve communication and collaboration.
  2. Search engines want to know more about a page through metadata. Think about all the data on your page and let search engines know what’s the context of that data. Buckley: “You have to think of leading Google through your site like a blind five-year-old.”
  3. Your code should be as much a thing as art as graphic design. Keep it clean and organized.
  4. Use web-based tools to improve your code, such as Schematic.org and SEO-browser.com. The first adds additional metadata to your page. The latter helps you examine and understand the component parts of a Web page. It shows you what the like looks like to search engines.
  5. Validate your sites using Validation.w3.org because it’s one more thing that Google likes, and shows that the site is well-maintained. The Google Webmaster Team considers validation when determining a site’s quality.
  6. Learn how to effectively use Google Plus. Just do it. Be like Traphagen and join more than 32,000 circles.
  7. Pay attention to Google Authorship and Author Rank. Traphagen said, “It’s Google’s identity engine.” Google authorship allows an individual content creator to establish who they are and connect their face to all of the content they made.
  8. Why is Google Authorship important. It makes sure search results stand out. “And nothing stands out more than a human face.” This could be a huge factor in search later. Companies will want to feature authors who have high social capital and a large web presence and reach.
  9. When networking, leverage your existing connections by calling them every once in a while. Do something memorable. Buckley passes out French coins from 1918 instead of business cards.
  10. Build authority online by creating content. Traphagen: “The content that you create becomes a calling card for you.”

Want to read more? Chip McCraw, who attended the event, collected key #SEOatElon tweets on Storify.

Phil Buckley gives tips on search engine optimization at the SEO Roadshow at Elon on March 1.

Phil Buckley gives tips on search engine optimization at the SEO Roadshow at Elon on March 1. (Photo by Iris Maslow, iMedia ’13)

Elon iMedia students listen intently to SEO enthusiasts Mark Traphagen and Phil Buckley at the SEO Roadshow on March 1.

Elon iMedia students listen intently to SEO enthusiasts Mark Traphagen and Phil Buckley at the SEO Roadshow on March 1. (Photo by Iris Maslow, iMedia ’13)

Continue reading

Making the most of a conference: networking

by Katie Williamsen, Elon iMedia Class of 2012

Last Friday, I had the privilege of attending ConvergeSouth (CS), a conference focused on technology, social media and marketing held at Elon’s School of Law in downtown Greensboro. Local professionals from the Triad and Triangle gathered to learn and network.

The iMedia program was a proud sponsor of CS – it is a great way to connect with the community and grow brand awareness. Additionally, over 20 iMedia students, faculty and staff attended the conference.

As an iMedia veteran, attending conferences is an excellent way to expand your knowledge and network. It is important to have an open mind when attending a conference. Not every presentation will be amazing, but taking the time to network can really pay off. You never know who you may meet at a conference.

Here are few tips to make the most of any conference:

  1. Research the presenters before attending. I highly recommend taking some time to learn about the presenters before heading to the conference. A presenter could hold your dream job or work at place you would like to work. Being armed with information will make networking with them easier and will help you ask more informed questions.
  2. Attend pre-conference events. CS held a meet-and-greet at a local restaurant the evening before the conference.  While I was unable to attend, it once again is a great networking opportunity. It can be impossible to talk to everyone you want to the day of the conference, so attending an pre-event can be a great way to connect with speakers you will miss at the conference.
  3. Engage on Twitter. Be sure to bring a fully charged smartphone, tablet or laptop to follow the conference chatter on Twitter. Typically there are multiple workshops going on at the same time and following along on Twitter allows you not to miss a thing. You can always favorite tweets and review them the next day. Be sure to follow the presenters in advance and Tweet questions you would like them to cover.
  4. Stock up on business cards. When you meet someone at a conference, be sure to exchange business cards. If you meet someone you want to stay in contact with, shoot them an email the next week and let them know you enjoyed meeting them.
  5. Network! Don’t be shy; go introduce yourself to the presenter or other attendees. People are there for similar reasons, so make the effort to reach out to others.

I hope these tips help make your conference experience richer and more enjoyable!

“Curiosity, Passion, and Endurance”

By Lindsey Huston, iMedia class of 2012

“Curiouser and curiouser.”

-Alice, from Lewis Carol’s Alice in Wonderland

The rabbit hole of knowledge in the interactive media field is infinitely deep. This is the metaphor Kim Williams, a Client Service Manager at BEM Group, Inc. in Greensboro, left me with after our information meeting this past week. Mr. Williams was referring specifically to the field of interactive marketing, but I found his metaphor applicable to the general field of interactive media as well.

The Interactive Media class of 2012 is three weeks into fall semester, and I know my classmates join me in the feeling of unrestrained curiosity. With creative assignments, research proposals, and capstone projects to contemplate, it’s easy to get caught up thinking about the overwhelming, yet exciting, assortment  of directions we may pursue in our career futures. Knowledge relating to my courses is infinitely deep, cluttering my head with a variety of undeveloped ideas. This made my information meeting with Mr. Williams a welcome one. Sharing his story with me, he offered direction and hope I will now share with my classmates or anyone interested in the interactive media field.

Reach Out.

This has been said on this blog before, but positive personal experience is the best reinforcement of any advice. I reached out to Mr. Williams for many reasons, including his sales career in the interactive marketing industry. His job, as a Client Service Manager for BEM Group, Inc., is to help companies successfully position themselves in the digital market. As an effective public speaker, he educates Fortune 500 companies and small companies on how to obtain an online presence and how to utilize social media. He also has a passion for blogging. 

With my own interest in marketing, social media, and blogging, I knew Mr. Williams would be a great resource. The decisive factor in pressing send on my LinkedIn message to him, however, was that he is a fellow alum of Wofford College. It’s always great to connect with a fellow Terrier, but it’s also comforting to talk to someone with a similar frame of reference. Further, if I had not asserted myself I would have missed out on the great advice he is willing to offer.

Mr. Williams was a Religion major who worked as a pastor for fifteen years. After his time with the United Methodist Church, he needed a change and found a passion for the sales industry. As a Philosophy major myself, I found it reassuring that he finds the skills he gained from his background relevant in his current career. We both share a writing-intensive, liberal arts background, with passion for communication and writing. He sees these skills as beneficial in both sales and interactive marketing, and this is reassuring to hear from someone with real career experience.

We have the opportunity to be innovators.

“You are the ones that are going to define this extremely rapidly changing industry.”

This was how Mr. Williams responded when I explained the Interactive Media program.

I believe in the importance of this statement. With a background in sales, Mr. Williams integrated social media into his life due to his own curiosity. Upon taking his job with BEM two years ago, he learned the required technology knowledge base necessary for his position. BEM Group was founded in 1996 rooted in Information Technology. Since then, it has transformed into a company with divisions of BEM TechnologyBEM Interactive, and BEM Education Center.

Mr. Williams’ genuine curiosity for interactive media acquired him a great career. However, he believes my classmates and I are in a unique situation in the Interactive Media Program. With our education and change in interactive media occurring within hours, it’s amazing to think of what my classmates and I can accomplish in the future.

After our information meeting, my goal is to keep an open imagination while maintaining specific focus on my goal of a career involving interactive marketing.

Do what you love.

Mr. Williams’ advice supports this cliché. He described his love for sales saying he loves “helping people get what they want in spite of themselves.” He also loves working with a variety of people on a day-to-day basis. Likewise, he reaffirmed that interactive marketing is an industry I would love by describing its conceptual work  and fast change of pace.

Most importantly, Mr. Williams left me with three tips for surviving the sales or interactive marketing industries. He said curiosity is “…more important than anything else…but importance also comes with passion and incredible endurance.”

Like Alice looking down the infinite rabbit hole into Wonderland, it’s safe to say my classmates and I have the essential curiosity for the infinite interactive media knowledge. However, it’s up to each one of us to follow the advice I received and follow our passions with endurance. It’s an exciting road ahead for the Interactive Media class of 2012, and I’m thankful for the advice I received so early into our fall semester!

Tweet-Cred: The Social Job Hunt

BY MEGHAN GARGAN, ELON IMEDIA CLASS OF 2011

It’s officially March iMedia Madness, which means that in addition to classes, capstones and portfolios –  the job-hunt is on. Many of us are putting finishing touches on portfolios, resumes and cover letters as we prepare to launch a full-on attack on the interactive industry.

On a personal note, a lot has changed since I first entered the work world in 2008, including learning about job openings and making personal connections with companies and employers.  One tool that I’ve found to be incredibly useful in seeking out employment opportunities is Twitter. So here are my top four tips on leveraging this social network to land your own dream job.

1. Brand yo-self

First things first – make sure your Twitter account is in tip-top shape. That means using a professional picture, writing a catchy and informative 140-character bio (include a link to a blog or portfolio!), and making sure your tweets are interesting and informative.

2. Following > Followers

A lot of people get caught up in how many followers they have versus how many people they are following. More times than not you’re going to follow more people than are following you – that’s OK. In fact, that’s great! This means you have more access to employers’ information streams, which is exactly what you want.

My recommendation? Follow the companies you are interested in working for. A lot of times employers are now tweeting job openings and if you check Twitter on a regular basis you could be one of the first to know – and to apply. Additionally, don’t just follow the company, follow the employees. This is a great way to make personal connections with the company, find out what the culture is like and establish your interest and passion for a particular job.

3. It’s all about Karma

Twitter is one huge ego-boost. Part of the thrill is being mentioned or retweeted (RT) by others. If there’s a particular job or company you want to work for, make sure to be engaged in their conversations by replying to company tweets or RT quality information or links. It shows that you are a team player and want to help expose their brand to the masses.

4. Content, content, content

No matter what platform you use, content is king. Twitter is a great place to mesh personality and professional interests – just make sure you know where the line is. Tweet content that is industry-related and interesting. You want to show that you are ahead of the trends and knowledgeable in the field. However, it’s not all work and no play! It’s okay (encouraged event) to include an occasional pop culture tweet or share something from your life via picture or link. For example, I shared a twitpic of one of our graduate classes being held in SecondLife. Let your personality shine – just don’t let it overshadow your professional knowledge.

Have more questions? Direct message (DM) or tweet at me: @meghangargan