Hopefully nearing the end of my bachelor’s degree in Communications and Media, I have spent some time trying to prepare for the big world outside of my 4 walls called “education”. Having gone from high school straight into university meant that I didn’t have all the life experience nor the idea of how I wanted things to go in the long run. Throughout the past four years, I have settled and decided upon the digital media industry to settle myself in – for now.
As I have shared in previous blog posts and impressed upon whatever readers I have had, I have created a few digital artefacts in my time at university, many of which have been attempts to create a career or job for myself through my digital artefacts. The main one was the creation of my art store on Etsy, which then lead to the creation of my actual freelance digital media business – something which I focused on this semester for BCM302, Advanced Digital Artefact.
As stated in my initial project pitch, for BCM302, my digital artefact aimed to provide digital media creation services as a member of the Creative Services Team (now known as the Digital Memo) – essentially, a creative studio with multiple BCM students participating, providing different and free creative services for others. My participation in the Digital Memo was laid with the intention of further developing my professional portfolio of work to advertise my ability for future employers.
Over time, my digital artefact developed and changed – as most things do – more than initially planned, but that was okay because I felt that whilst it was not as a significant result as my other digital artefacts, I believe it has left me in a suitable position post-university.
Whilst initially planning to be a part of the Creative Services, I found that due to the ‘new’-ness of the group and my limited socialisation with my fellow BCM peers, I was not requested by anyone to work with them in media creation as some of the other team members were. I, however, was active during the formation, below is a screenshot from me helping to rebrand the first known as “The Creative Services Team” by suggesting some logos I had created, these designs did not make it to the final result, but they were considered when the team members voted!
Whilst finding myself with no ‘clients’ seeking my work, I found that I really had to promote myself a little more online, the individuals who ran the Digital Memo social media also assisted me by retweeting my post that promoted the work that I do.
Still, coming to a later point in the semester, I still had not had anyone reach out to me, obviously leaving me a little let down because the Digital Memo is a great opportunity and experience for any BCM student to try to – and whilst saying this post the first semester of it running, I truly hope it continues further for other students as it can be a great chance. I found that with the semester progressing steadily on, I should probably reconfigure my digital artefact so that I would have some progress and work to show for BCM302.
Alongside my university work in the past, I have done some occasional freelance digital media creation. I figured this would present me with opportunities to expand my digital portfolio – as per one of my initial aims for my DA. I began to advertise myself online with my inner circle, connections and previous clients. I found that a few previous employers actually passed forward my details to their friends and colleagues and I have since been in contact with a few people, setting up meetings and beginning to work with some. Below are a few images of these posts and communication – one having details blurred out as per their request for privacy.
One person that I began working will is a friend of mine who attends another university. She was in need of some support with her own blog and setting up her personal branding. So I came up with some logo trials and began sending them to her. Amy’s favourite was number 5, with number 6 as a shorter logo option when required.
As well as Amy, I worked with Miranda. Miranda owns her own business and for her privacy, I have not shared her business name as requested, but in summary, I attended an hour meeting with Miranda to discuss her business goals and what she would require from me in terms of digital media. I am at the current point of arranging another meeting with her to discuss social media plans and discussions.
Opening up some connections to actual work has been a great opportunity because it has helped me build on my digital portfolio. But I had one problem at that stage. I didn’t have anywhere to actually present said portfolio. So I stepped into a new field and began designing my website to advertise my work. The link to my newly created website is https://alexmcooper.squarespace.com/ – take a peak below at some screencaps.
It was certainly a learning process as I wanted to step away from WordPress for my professional portfolio, and was then required to learn a whole new platform and its little quirks. On top of this, Squarespace is used just as much as WordPress in today’s digital world, so I was certain I wanted to experience both platforms in order to cater to a wider and more potential audience. This was a pretty tasking process to learn it on a level that I could create my own portfolio and look professional, but overall I believe I am pretty happy with it turned out. Since its creation, I have begun sharing it with individuals that have messaged to work with me so that they can see my works. I plan to add more designs to it shortly, as well as some tips and tricks for social media, and break down some of my services.
One thing that helped me during the journey of my digital artefact, was the process of design thinking. One of the first individuals who referred to the idea of design thinking was John E. Arnold, a professor of mechanical engineering. In 1959, he wrote “Creative Engineering”, a text which established four areas of design thinking – from there it only developed and became popular in all kinds of fields such as science and creative arts. Design thinking is seen to be a non-linear, iterative process that individuals can use to understand users, challenge assumptions, redefine problems and create innovative solutions to prototype and test.
I definitely throughout the semester found myself referring to the design thinking process. Not only when my first initial step with the Digital Memo team did not quite go as planned, but also when moving to work on a more professional level of freelancing. My whole process of work has found itself to be quite literally the design process because I have been required to create different work for different individuals, through the first two steps of empathise and define. From there are the literal steps of ideation and prototyping my work. Creating content for different individuals is not the easiest work because you are catering for different needs and wants.
Upon reflection, whilst I also followed the process of reframing my digital artefact when I was not initially successful as I had hoped, I wish I had interacted a little more with my peers and those working in the Digital Memo. I did find myself comparing my own work with that of my peers as I saw them posting a lot online about their successes – naturally, that was a little upsetting as I was putting in hard work with interacting online, commenting on others’ progress, sharing my own work online and other things, yet I was not receiving nearly the same interactions from an audience.
Something I always found nice and handy with our digital artefacts was the process of the peer reviews. Whilst still here, the process had been revised over the last semester, resulting in a peer review where we pick our own individuals to follow, whereas, in the past time, we have been assigned. I did not receive any peer review on my digital artefact or check in on my progress, which was also a little pushback because I am someone who values advice and feedback so that I can receive an outsider’s perspective and then build on their feedback to improve. I think if I had realised how important that was to me, I think I would have specifically put a post out and asked for some advice on how to work on my digital artefact.
I also believe that there was also a slight issue with the Digital Memo, which we had only established this semester. Because of this early establishment, I believe that not as many students were willing to engage with a group of students that were only in the process of setting up this group. Perhaps if we had worked on it all together a little earlier we might have been established earlier enough to hit the correct audience of students that were looking for that support and services when creating their digital artefacts.
Whilst I did not follow my initial idea or plan for my digital artefact, I do believe I achieved one of my goals – which was to build upon and expand my professional portfolio for post-university employment opportunities. The Digital Memo, as I mentioned earlier, may have not been a success for me, but that does not mean by any chance that it will not be suitable for another. I believe that hands-on experience is a great chance for future students to keep pursuing it. Allowing us to experience that raw feeling of working for a client and creating something that they need is a crucial step to the industries related to the BCM degree. I am obviously planning to continue my own professional development and portfolio creation. I think I will begin to build an online presence through a social media account like Instagram, which will allow me to attract a wider audience and engage with others in an easier way.
Over the last four years, I have created many digital artefacts and I know that I have learnt a lot from my work. Pending results, this should hopefully be the last subject required to finish my Bachelor of Communications and Media Degree, and I can only reflect with a fondness for the BCM community, peers, tutors and teachers together. I have been able to build a passion for all things digital media, and have been able to begin establishing myself in the industry. Digital Artefacts whilst scoffed upon by many students, have been an assignment task that I will value the most leaving university as it has taught me the most about the real world and helped me gain the most experience that anything else could have done. I know that I will take every lesson I have learnt and take them with me as I continue in my journey.
Whilst results are pending and I am hopeful that this is my last subject before completing my degree. I can only say a preliminary thankyou to all the dedicated tutors that have guided me through the last four years. Educators are often overlooked these days, and I cannot be any more grateful for the role you have all provided for me during this time of discovery.
Till next time.