Conor Britain '09 G'10, an interactive designer at RED Interactive Agency, spoke with members of this year's Master of Arts in Interactive Media program, highlighting his experiences on campus and his professional path.
On the final day of their three-week digital media workshop – 10 days before the start of their first full semester – the 36 students in this year’s Master of Arts in Interactive Media program were already thinking about graduation. More specifically, gainful employment was on their minds.
For advice, the graduate students turned to one of their own, Conor Britain ’09 G’10, who graduated from the inaugural Interactive Media class. Although he relocated to California following his graduation five years ago, Britain passed through campus Aug. 14 and led an informal 30-minute conversation about his career.
Now an interactive designer at RED Interactive Agency, a full-service digital agency in Santa Monica, California, Britain explained how he’s navigated the job market, a journey that began while enrolled as an Interactive Media student.
Britain encouraged the students to procure informational interviews with companies that interest them, cultivating relationships with employees who seek out new hires. Once an interview is landed, he urged students to come armed with questions to get a sense as to what jobs are available and what skills are needed.
“I used the fall semester to cast those nets,” he said. “Find companies that are doing interesting work; work that you would like to do.”
By knowing what skills are in demand, students can utilize the program’s classwork to strengthen their resumes and portfolios, Britain explained.
Cold calling and cold contacting potential employers can seem difficult, but it’s a reluctance that students must overcome, he said. “You might not realize this yet, but you guys are potential talent,” he told the class. “It can seem hard to make these connections, but it doesn’t take a lot of time. Make yourself do it.” He also explained that students should leverage LinkedIn to find employment leads.
For students who don’t have definitive plans for after graduation Britain offered some comforting words. “Not everyone knows what job they are going to be gunning for, even as you get to April. I encourage you to keep an open mind in the first few months of the program,” he said. “Do a little homework on the material that starts to seem interesting to you.”
Britain encouraged the students to test themselves while on campus because it’s the perfect setting to discover new curiosities. “This is your sandbox time,” he said. “Every project is an opportunity to learn about something that your interested in.”
He also dismissed some myths about working in the Silicon Valley, including that it can be a competitive and “cold” industry. “I was fortunate to end up in a small company, where I just asked a lot of questions,” Britain said. “I found a community at work and I feel part of a team.”