Hiring Manager Series: Do You Need A Master's In Media?
By Khadejah Stegall
Khadejah is a part of the TLC College Ambassador Program
After graduation, many students are on the fence about deciding whether to go to graduate school and for some degrees, graduate school is a MUST. The burning question that floats around in the media industry is should you continue your education since it is an industry based off relationships and skill? The Life Currency spoke with Tarah Holland, Assistant Director of Graduate Admissions at Elon University, who manages recruitment and marketing for Elon's Master of Arts in Interactive Media, Master of Education and Master of Arts in Higher Education programs. Holland is an alumna of the Interactive Media program and developed skills through the program that resulted in her also becoming a freelance web & content strategist. We spoke with Holland on why she pursued grad school after starting off as a newspaper reporter, what the program looks for in applicants and how to decide if you should go to grad school.
Q: In media, it is assumed that a master's degree is not needed. Do you think that idea is changing today and if so, what are the benefits of having one now?
A: The media industry is constantly and rapidly changing. Media professionals are expected to do more in their jobs, and depending on the sector, there are fewer and fewer jobs to begin with. As someone who began her career as a newspaper reporter, I can tell you firsthand that having additional skills, especially digital savvy, can make the difference in your career progression or in helping you adapt quickly when your career changes unexpectedly.
Q: What kind of applicants do you seek to be a part of the program?
A: The Master of Arts in Interactive Media (iMedia) program at Elon is open to applicants from any academic background. A hallmark of the program is that students acquire highly sought digital skills from the ground up, whether or not they have experience in that area. We welcome applicants who are creative or drawn to the strategy behind such things as social media marketing or user experience design; or applicants who simply have an interest in or related to graphic design, web development or production.
Q: You were also a part of the interactive program. What were your biggest takeaways?
A: From class projects and discussions to the study abroad and culminating capstone experiences, everything I learned in the iMedia program has been a great complement to my journalism, public relations and marketing background. The quality of the curriculum, the faculty, the network of alumni and the many opportunities that students are exposed to in just 10 short months are all impressive.
Q: Do applicants need to enter into the program with any specific skills to strengthen their application?
A: The iMedia program is open to applicants from any academic background. Those with production experience and a digital portfolio of work in video, photography, web development or graphic design can apply for a portfolio waiver. If granted, the waiver would relieve them of the standardized test score requirement of submitting GRE or MAT scores. Aside from that, I encourage applicants to really use the personal statement as an opportunity to express their thoughts about the curriculum, the industry, their experiences and goals, and why they want to study interactive media at Elon. Really putting time and thought into the personal statement may go a long way in strengthening an application if there may be weaknesses in other areas.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about graduate school, but letting money or fear stop them?
A: If you’re thinking about graduate school, explore your options because chances are that desire will not go away. It’s important to research programs of interest and their outcomes. For example, how quickly do program graduates find jobs after graduation? Just as important, research the industry that you want to work in. Pay attention to salary details and consider requesting informational interviews with professionals who are working in roles that you want to explore. Doing your homework before you apply may help to ease money worries and other fears.
To learn more about the iMedia program, head to www.elon.edu/imedia
Khadejah Stegall is a mommy blogger that inspires others to achieve the impossible through the power of Jesus. She enjoys family time, eating plant-based meals when it's convenient and mentoring others on professional development. To be inspired by more post, follow her blog at khadejahstegall.com