ICOM Productions Inc. Development Manager Ryan Jones is becoming an unofficial expert on the U of L’s bachelor of fine arts in new media program.
“The U of L graduates we’ve hired as developers have a well-rounded view of all the different media and the industry, and they are eager to learn more. Teamwork is very important here, and the new media alumni have the communications skills to sell their ideas to the staff they’re collaborating with,” says Jones.
Jones oversees multimedia development operations at the online learning solutions company in Calgary, AB. He says that learning is the defining aspect of the developers’ work.
“Our instructional designers use a client’s curriculum to create a screenplay or design document for a course that can be presented online. That course is broken down into learning objectives that the developers try to highlight in their animation. Developers have to consider how they can drive home the learning objectives in a way that allows users to visually learn the information,” says Jones.
The developers also have their own learning objectives. Mastering new software and becoming immersed in clients’ courses have been regular parts of the job for Erin Cunningham (BFA ’05) since she was hired in January 2005.
“The U of L is good at teaching you how to learn. I didn’t take a Flash course at university, but I could pick it up quickly when I needed to. New media graduates definitely have the skills to help out around here,” says Cunningham.
Senior new media students can receive course credit for completing an internship in an area of industry of interest to them. When ICOM needed fresh talent, Cunningham contacted U of L New Media Internship Coordinator Anna Pickering. Since then, Vikramjit Gill (BFA ’06), Jamie Alliban (BFA ’06) and Brendon Abernethy have gone on to successfully complete their internships and accept full-time positions with ICOM.
Gill and Abernethy are now part of ICOM’s research and development team. “If I’m not working on a specific project, I’m working with new software and technology platforms. I had the basic skill set when I started, but I’m always learning,” says Abernethy.
ICOM’s collaborative atmosphere reminds the alumni of their time in the new media labs. New media students have access to a motion-capture lab, sound engineering room and high-end computer labs outfitted with dual monitors and full software suites. “The labs are wonderful to work in. You get inspired by other people’s work, and then you try to incorporate some of their ideas into your work,” says Gill.
When asked about the highlights of her student experience, Alliban points to the new media students and professors. “Being around a bunch of extremely creative people drives you to push yourself that extra step, and the variety of teacher personalities brought different things to the courses,” she says.
The latest new media intern to join ICOM’s collaborative environment is Aaron Gregory, who began in September. Jones says his experiences with new media alumni and interns have made him a fan of the program.
“It’s a win-win situation. We get students fresh from school who are excited about the learning opportunities here, and the students have an opportunity to gain experience in an organization,” he says.
New media alumni success stories are not unusual. Approximately eight per cent of new media graduates go on to post-secondary programs. Of the graduates who enter the workforce, 94 per cent are employed in their field.
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