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A Look Back

data visualisationEven though the semester has went by very quickly, I had a great opportunity to learn new techniques and enhance my skills in MC 5317. I learned how to use data to tell a story, the importance of data visualization, and how to locate and get data.  I really enjoyed learning this because I’m a visual learner and it helps me understand the overall concept better.  I also learned the importance of knowing how to code and how beneficial it is to me.  In the class I obtained some wonderful skills such as storytelling, troubleshooting, coding, attention to detail, research, and patience.  I plan to use the skills that I obtained from MC 5317 in my current position as an academic advisor.  I have already started using the coding skills by upgrading our office website and now if I have a problem the content management system can fix, I can look at the code and troubleshoot the problem.  And that always feels great to do and it is cool to say that I know how to do that.  I plan on staying up-to-date by first making a conscious effort to stay informed.  I will get out of my comfort zone and interact more on social media platforms to network and stay connected to what is going on.  I plan on attending SXSWedu and SXSW Interactive in 2014. I have truly enjoyed the two courses (MC 5312 & MC 5317) I got to complete in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.  The skills and information that I learned will help me greatly throughout my future.


Wrapping things up

I knew I wanted to learn coding and web design since my undergrad career. However, I had no idea I would learn as much as I have in such a short period of time. The advanced class is a lot different then what I expected. I didn’t realize how much information is out there, which is kind of silly since everything is online. I’ve learned a lot in the past semester including how to get data from the web and how to visualize the data you find. I never realized how many elements actually go into this process and how difficult it is to actually produce a visually appealing data visualization. It has helped me respect those journalists at institutions like The New York Times and The Guardian who are producing such beautiful portrayals of data. I am sure that continued practice will help build these skills and the more I am able to play around with data the more comfortable I will get with turning it into something amazing.

I do believe that having these skills are important and can set me apart from many job candidates now days. However, expanding on these skills will give me even more of a push. I know there is a lot more to learn, I wouldn’t really consider myself a developer but from my current job I know that it is still important to  have the knowledge of these skills in order to better project manage.

As far as expanding on my skills, I   want to get involved with different meet-ups around Austin in order to gain more experience and meet more people who are interested in the same things I am. I also plan on staying up to date by following the latest online articles surrounding anything and everything technology. I would love to continue going to SXSW and other relative conferences.

Involve Me and I Learn


graduation2It’s amazing how much a person can learn in what seems like such a short amount of time. The past two years in this program have just flown by and I can’t even describe how quickly this final semester came and went. I’ll admit when I started graduate school new media wasn’t a sequence I thought I would follow. After taking the CMS class with Jacie and my first of three classes with you this past summer it was clear that the New Media sequence was the most appealing to me. Coding didn’t/doesn’t come easily to me, but I guess that’s what appealed most to me… it was challenging and new and different every time. I’ve gained a newfound confidence by learning to code. Though it can get frustrating I had to learn to just breathe and use Google often to search for helpful tips, I had to remind myself to pay attention to detail and most importantly learn how to troubleshoot.

This class was taught in a workshop type of style. And the best way I can describe this experience is through the words of  Benjamin Franklin, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”

HTML5_stickerIf I tried to describe everything we covered in this semester alone people would probably find it hard to believe. Shoot, even as I go back through handouts and the course outline to review thing to use within my final project I find myself astounded! We covered the basics of data visualization and infographics and practically every programming language out there… it was an immense amount of skills and while I wouldn’t call myself an expert I’ve gained the basic knowledge to continue to learn more of the skill set on my own in the future.

To do this there are numerous resources to look to in order to keep up with the changing aspects of all these skills. One thing I plan on starting to do more is attending meet ups where many of these programs (Javascript, Python, Ruby, Drupal) are the topic of discussion; Hacks and Hackers in one that you always speak of and the Texas Tribune always hosts events as well.

The SXSW Interactive is something I hope to find myself attending in the coming years since I know it is a good place to find out the need to know and where our field is and is moving forward to. ISOJ was a conference I was able to attend just recently and I found it so interesting and beneficial. That is definitely something I am going to attend again.

I’m not exactly sure what type of job or atmosphere I’m looking for right now, but I feel as though I have a solid skill set that I can offer to a future employer as long as I keep up to date and continue to learn more even after graduation.

Reflection of Grad School So Far


P05-154-010-950x631It’s hard to think where i was at just a short two years ago. I was a new graduate with a degree in advertising. I picked advertising because it’s just something that I’ve always been fascinated with. I never really had any intention on going to the advertising industry. My original goal was to either work for my parents or go into the military as an officer. Shortly after graduation,  i discovered that i could not go into the Air Force as an officer due to a medical disqualification. I then worked for my parents and realized that i do not want to be stuck working a 9-5 “cubicle” job with them. It was simply not mentally and physically challenging enough for me. Even worse, I realized afterward that i really have no extra skills that could differentiate me amongst my newly-graduated peers. That’s when i discovered the grad program at Texas State.

I’m really glad that i decided to continue my education. I knew i wanted to go into New Media as soon as i saw the concentration. I’ll be honest that i did not know what new media was even about. I figured it’ll be something in the line of “social media advertising” or “internet communication.” Since i started the program, i’ve learned many new skills. Things such as video editing with Premier and iMovie; researching at a graduate level; and the understanding of HTML and other crucial web skills. I think my video editing skill is the one thing that i really cherish from the whole graduate program. I never realized how much i enjoy doing it. Another thing i like is the fact that i now have a basic understanding of the HTML language. I think this is such a crucial skill to have even if you’re not going into the tech industry. Not to mention the other web skills I’ve picked up such as Drupal, web scraping and the many fascinating way of telling a story through data visualization.


Following graduation, I’m planning to go into the Marine Corps as an aviator. Being the competitive nature of military aviation, there is a very high chance that i will not make the selection. If not selected, then i would like to go into the racing/automotive industry. Since I’m not an engineer, it is great that i have a diverse mass communication skills that a racing team would need. I’m glad i picked up on tools such as Twitter and other social media platforms to connect with people. It is weird to think that i did not have a Twitter account just  a short year ago. I was definitely missing out on some of the ways i can connect with professionals from a broad range career-fields.

As far as staying updated, it will be somewhat difficult for me. I think i can keep up with popular things such as WordPress and Drupal, but i will be hard for me to stay updated with newer hipster trends. I’m planning to attend SXSWi as one of the ways to lessen this effect. Maybe attend other events and workshops such as ISOJ or NPPA Storytelling Workshop.

Reaching the End of the Road

ImageThe past two years seem like a blur and I can’t believe graduation is only a few weeks away. I’m excited yet nervous at the same time and I feel like when I graduate I am going to be taking some valuable skills with me.

I’m so glad I decided to continue my education because I didn’t take ANY web design/coding classes as an undergraduate. I think one of the most important things I’ve learned as a graduate student is how important basic coding is to know, and how big of a role these skills will play in the future. I didn’t know how important these skills were as an undergraduate and I had no idea what coding even was. I feel more confident going into the “real world” now with these basic skills under my belt.

I want to work in the sports industry and from what I can tell from my internship is the jobs that require these kinds of skills usually go to guys. So, hopefully armed with my new coding knowledge I’ll be able to break that trend. Image

I think another important thing I’ve learned from these classes is how quickly things are changing and how important it is for us to keep up to stay in the game. SXSW Interactive would be a great place to start going every year to keep up with the latest trends, and of course Hack/Hackers meet ups. If I want to stay relevant and know what’s going on these events and other conferences need to be on my agenda.

Building on the Basics

Two semesters of grad classes and two semesters of online classes under my belt.

Similar to what others said already, when I started this program I really didn’t think I would ever get into any kind of web design. Now after two semesters, I’m applying for jobs that Imagerequire basic coding skills, getting offered internships on the web marketing team at National Instruments, and serving as webmaster for the Austin Young Democrats.

A long way from somehow graduating from an advertising program never having to take a single computer class. Seriously. Four years, not a single class. I should check back and see if that’s changed.

Anyway, to reiterate what some of my classmates have said about the value of the classes, the most valuable thing I’ve learned is to not be intimidated by coding. The comfort level I have looking into the code whether it be a WordPress site, HTML, Ruby on Rails or Javascript is leaps and bounds above what I ever thought it could be and that is because I am not scared to Google it and try to figure it out on my own.

Another reason I am glad I took this class at the beginning of my program is it immersed me into the tech culture, something I had not paid attention to at all prior to the program. By doing this early on, I am able to stay abreast of what’s going on in the industry and begin to make contacts and network long before graduation.

Being at the forefront of emerging technology such as data journalism is a great way to stay ahead of the competition when it comes to getting a job or staying relevant within that job. I am thankful for the updates and opportunities to learn about groups such as Hacks and Hackers and ONA and meet such influential people as Evan Smith. Such opportunities really help flesh out the academic part of the program.

In the future, I hope to calm down a bit and not work 3 jobs while taking 3 classes so that I am able to actually attend conferences such as ISOJ and SXSWi and learn even more about what is going on in the industry and utilize the opportunity to network with all of the influential people involved. 

Winding Down

html_logoIt’s hard to believe, but the semester—and, for many of us, grad school—is almost over. Our class covered so much from the basics of data visualization to infographics to what seemed like every programming language known to man. Admittedly, it all seemed like a blur until I started going back through our handouts and exercises to plan for final projects.

Of the massive amount of skills we covered, I found the actual programming the most interesting and helpful. While I wouldn’t call myself a PHP developer, and Ruby and Python are still mostly Greek to me, the introduction was a big help. From here, I feel confident that I could teach myself the rest of the way. I’m certainly stubborn and cocky enough.

I do know that I’ll need the coding as much as anything else going forward in my career. In addition to designing Web sites, landing pages and digital marketing collateral, my job at the Capital Area Food Bank will include developing ways to communicate the organization’s data. I’ll be using a lot of the skills we covered in class as well as the principles we read about in the Data Journalism Handbook.

Since this is going to be an integral part of my career, falling behind the times will not be an option. Luckily, there’s no shortage of resources to keep up to date and further build on what we started in class. For starters, I plan to keep going to the ONA and Hacks/Hackers meet ups and look for others to go to. I already have my eye on meet ups for Python, Ruby and Drupal.

I’ll also keep going to SXSW Interactive (as long as I have the money or can con someone else into paying for me), ISOJ and other conferences and workshops. I find that these are good places to find out what I need to know so I can then go learn it on my own. When it comes down to it, that’s the single greatest takeaway from this class and Texas State’s new media program in general: we learned how to keep learning long after we leave the classroom.