After two years of working full time, attending graduate school (full time for 4/6 quarters), and blogging, I’m officially done with my Masters of Communication in Digital Media !
While I did have some challenges, I’m surprised how quickly two years flew by. Looking back, I’m so glad I chose a masters’ program that was directly aligned with my interests. I’ve learned so much for my professional and creative career. I wanted to share a few lessons I learned over these last two years.
4 Lessons I learned pursuing my Masters of Communication in Digital Media
1. I learned that my capacity for stress and work was way bigger than I expected.
I was incredibly worried about attending graduate school full time, especially on top of a full time job and blogging. I decided to ease into the first quarter of graduate school by just taking one class. Then I proceeded to take two classes (full time load) the next 4 quarters.
I learned that the more work I had to do, the more productive I got with the time I had. At least one of day of every weekend became a work day. And my Friday nights, became productive work nights.
I look back at one of the greatest pieces of advice my mentor shared with me at the beginning of grad school: “to not remove yourself from situations you aren’t in yet”. If I hadn’t listened to her advice, I probably would have put off pursuing my Masters of Communication in Digital Media . But she was right. I learned how to adapt and I figured out how to make my schedule work.
2. UX Design is really fun and I hope to build up my web design skillsets even more!
With an undergrad in business and roles in sales, finance, and project management, I never explored anything related to design. But these last couple of years, I’ve become more interested in UX design as I’ve personally looked at my own blog and Boeing’s internal websites.
I was so excited to take Psychology of UX Design, Product Content Strategy, and UX Research. Through Psychology of UX design, I learned Gestalt’s Principles and how to apply these principle to improve design. With Product Content Strategy, I learned how to perform a thorough content audit. I learned that prioritizing business objectives over your consumer’s needs can configure a completely different website. And with UX Research, I learned how to conduct a UX research project, interview users and document their feedback, and how to brainstorm with wire frames + produce a high fidelity design.
Here are some of my favorite projects I completed in my Masters of Communication in Digital Media degree :
Alaska Airlines – Web page redesign for “explore tab”
Expedia – Mobile redesign to create a more cohesive user experience across the booking funnel.
3. Storytelling is still at the heart of communications, marketing, and selling.
This past fall quarter, I took the Future of Marketing. We explored and took a deep dive into block chain, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality, big data, and more. For our final project, we were tasked with launching a product or service related to outer space. We had to use these new technologies to market our products/services.
I found that even though we were exploring new technologies, we still needed a solid story line. My group decided that we would launch into the luxury beauty and skincare industry. We crafted the story that the earth was running out of natural resources and we needed to harvest minerals like selenium, zinc, and iron from the Earth and Mars’ moons.
We positioned our (made up) company Moonlight Beauty as looking to expand its brand and customer base into Asia and Europe to grow its business. And we identified that Moonlight Beauty was going to be able to do this by partnering with national retailers within Asia and Europe. We selected how big data, block chain, AR/VR, and AI would allow us to both market to consumers and create strategic partnerships in these new continents.
Whether you’re venturing into the space and skincare industry or you’re building your audience as an influencer, stories are still at the heart of communications, marketing, and selling. My time in graduate school has reinforced this and helped me practice create new stories over and over again.
4. Here are a few key lessons from 2 years’ worth of group projects:
Expectations: Expectations should be set either before or at the first meeting.
Your team should decide how often they want to meet, if they prefer meeting face to face or virtually, and discuss who is/isn’t working full time. You should also discuss if the team prefers working meetings vs. coming to the meeting with all the work already done.
I’ve been in groups where I was the only person working full time so I couldn’t attend meetings at 9am on Thursday to work on a midterm or final. I’ve also been in groups who only wanted to meet virtually and groups who only wanted to meet in person.
Decision Making: One of the biggest lessons I learned in graduate school was that your team needs to decide how they will make decisions.
Will it be a majority vote? Will you rotate who the decision maker is each week?
I ended up being the executive decision maker for an entire quarter and I realized that I didn’t want to be in that place – especially since we were all supposed to collaborate and make decisions together. But I’ve also been in teams where we moved forward with a direction if 3/5 of us agreed it was the right thing to do.
Project Management: I didn’t realize that being a project manager would be so helpful in managing and driving group projects.
I helped my teams by setting clear goals of what we wanted to accomplish in the beginning of meetings, laying out the schedule, and taking notes. Documenting decisions and why we chose to make those decisions also helped the teams I was on continue to move forward vs. dwelling or questioning previous decisions.
There you have it friends! The 4 major lessons I learned while pursuing my Master’s in Communication in Digital Media.
For more graduate school related posts, you can also check out:
Thank you for reading!
Photos: Karya Schanilec