Amir Butler: Pursuing Her Dreams

Posted on: May 11, 2017

MSU Media and Information sophomore Amir Butler started her first business, Soreem, when she was a freshman and has continued to grow her clothing brand with the help of resources at Michigan State University.

Soreem is defined as “carefree,” which is something she wanted her company to represent.

“I wanted it to be carefree, whether it was about your dreams or fashion sense,” says Butler. “To not really worry about what other people think of you.”

Butler always knew she wanted to start a clothing line, but she just didn’t know where to start. Not long after she got Soreem under her belt, she found out about the Hatch, which she learned about through her minor in entrepreneurship and innovation.

“I’ve had Soreem since March 2016, so it was already running, but, there was little stuff that I needed help with, like financials and things like that,” says Butler. “Overall the Hatch has been really helpful.”

The Hatch at MSU is a space that provides resources for student entrepreneurs and assists them with developing their business ideas.

amir-and-her-clothing-soreem“With all the events they have, I try to take advantage of everything,” says Butler. “With the Hatch they helped me get stickers, they gave me resources for different things that I needed, different events with speakers I could talk to related to what I’m doing.”

Butler encourages her peers who aspire to start a business to do their research and find resources, and to look at competition and see if there’s something they can do better.

She thinks young people get discouraged because they don’t know where resources are.

“Just always do your research and never take ‘no’ for an answer,” says Butler. “A lot of people will say you can’t do something because they never brought their vision to life. Always keep people around who support what you’re doing."

Butler hopes to give back as much as she can to upcoming entrepreneurs and to those who supported her.

“I would love to have a little business seminar, with people starting up to give them little keys to start,” says Butler.

While, encouraging young people to follow their dreams, Butler also wants them to know that it isn’t easy, and that you have to work hard.

“The road is not easy, don’t ever believe that it will be easy. You will hit walls, but you will get over that,” says Butler. “It’s fun, because you get to work for yourself.”

With the help of her family and friends and MSU resources, Butler has been successful with Soreem, and has a lot more in the works for her company.

“I just don’t want anybody to regret not following their dreams, as cliché as it sounds, you should always follow your dreams,” says Butler. “Always, no matter how big or small, always. That’s what I’m doing, that’s what I love to do.”

Story by Brandi Scarber

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Senior’s love for television production continued with Windy City Live in Chicago

Posted on: February 23, 2017

Media and information senior Valerie Dorn was in the eighth grade when she decided she wanted to go into television production. She started in a closet-sized control room and created her own marketing company to learn more about video production. She did this for three years in her community, where she did local video spots.

“I enjoyed video production so much in high school, that I decided to pursue it in college,” Dorn said. “The first thing I ever did was say the pledge of allegiance on camera in middle school and I thought that was the coolest thing. I never thought I would be someday working at an ABC affiliate station in downtown Chicago.”

Dorn wore many hats as a production assistant for the entertainment show, Windy City Live, including meeting celebrity guests, helping to write blogs and scripts, and managing the live audiences. She also helped the director with seating charts and production schedules.

“I think my favorite part of the internship was that I was working for the top third television market in the entire country,” Dorn said. “It was a humbling experience to be able to work for such a large network.”

Dorn has also worked at WKAR since the spring of her sophomore year at MSU and said it gave her a solid foundation for working in television production.

“I owe everything to WKAR,” Dorn said. “They were the first real television studio that I worked in and they really helped me and gave me opportunities to try everything from lighting to floor directing. WKAR is why I had those skills and was confident enough to apply for Windy City Live.”

Dorn is also pursuing a minor in entrepreneurship and innovation with a specialization in television production and media management.

“I’ve always been on the production route, but there’s also a business side to that,” Dorn said. “I heard about the entrepreneurship and innovation minor and figured it was a great opportunity to get a business background.”

She works at WOODTV now as well and handles promotions there.

“I wouldn’t be driving all the way to Grand Rapids every week if I didn’t love it,” Dorn said. “I love how promotions is more hands on and I get to deal with all different departments within a station. I like dealing with clients and the behind the scenes part of it.”

Production is focused on the show, whereas promotions is more creative and out-of-the-box. At WOODTV, Dorn gets to write actual content and do most behind the scenes tasks, which she enjoys.

“I am really looking forward to getting my career started,” Dorn said. “The television experience at Windy City Live was amazing and with television I feel like I have the power to affect someone’s life everyday. Whether it’s making them laugh or feel grateful, it’s just such a powerful medium. It’s amazing what television can do.”

By Meg Dedyne

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MSU will have big presence at Traverse City Film Festival

Posted on: June 24, 2016

This summer, the Traverse City Film Festival will attract visitors from across the nation to enjoy cinematic art and more during the popular six-day event. “Our goal is for people to leave the theater with the feeling that they just watched something special,” said President and Founder Michael Moore on the official website.

As the main educational sponsor, faculty and students from Michigan State University have contributed to this international film festival in more ways than one.

The Woz
MSU has partnered with the Traverse City Film Festival to program its interactive showcase called “The Woz.”

unspecifiedStudents and faculty in the Game Design and Development program at ComArtSci are curating and programming the multimedia gallery.

Several media projects – including games created in the Games for Entertainment and Learning (GEL) Lab – will be available at the “The Woz”. The public will be able to try out the recently released HTC Vive (a head-mounted virtual display) as well as games like “That Dragon, Cancer,” “Her Story” and more. “The Woz” will be located at Hotel Indigo in Traverse City.

Student-Produced Films
Many student-produced films created by individuals within ComArtSci and the College of Arts & Letters will be screened at the festival, including “From Flint: Voices of a Poisoned City,” which targets the devastating Flint Water Crisis and shares the stories of people who have faced tragedy and those who have advocated for change.

Also in the lineup is the documentary created by this year’s Media Sandbox Street Team called “#LendMIHand.” The film follows the students as they mentor Lansing youth with the charity “Pictures of Hope” and create a social media campaign to promote awareness. Additional student films are “Blacktop” and “Run, Jump, Paddle.”

unspecified-2MSU’s Media Arts Collaborative (MAC) with its Theatre 2 Film project will screen their feature film called “Sorta Late” at the Old Town Playhouse during the festival. This project is a collaborative effort between the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, College of Arts & Letters and College of Music. Students selected an original student play and adapted it for the screen. More than 100 students participated in creating it and acted as directors, editors and producers. “Sorta Late” is about a Detroit late-night talk show and a group of interns experiencing the chaos that can come with working in the entertainment industry.

Internship and Learning Opportunities
MSU students have also been utilizing their skills and enriching their Spartan experience through working as interns for TCFF.

unspecified-3They have been tasked with responsibilities that include event planning, graphic design and production.

ComArtSci faculty member and documentary filmmaker Geri Alumit Zeldes and composer Bill Withem will teach a special class open to the public about composing music for documentary films. They’ll walk the audience through the process and describe the emotions that go into creating music. Additionally, they will discuss how media can use music to underscore silence, ideas or action.

Working with SEEDS
SEEDS, a nonprofit organization funded in part by Michigan State University, will support future generations behind the scenes at the festival. The nonprofit organization gives low-income youth the opportunity to work with some of the best production people in the world, helping to set up screens and audio for the festival the week before.

Ready to head to Traverse City?
A special offer will be available for MSU students interested in attending the festival. Students will be allowed four free tickets if they present their student ID at Spartan Headquarters in Traverse City at 333 E. State Street.

Grab your free tickets and Spartan gear at the Traverse City Film Festival! Follow the hashtags #TCFF and #MSUTCFF on social media for the latest updates.

By Nikki W. O'Meara

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Students provide IT solutions to local clients

Posted on: May 3, 2016

The ITM 444 (I.T. Project Management) Capstone is concluding on Thursday, April 28, 2016. This year, 16 organizations (9 sponsoring the I.T. Minor) participated and afforded our students experiential learning opportunities that related to web design, database development, social media communications, and video production.

Students in ITM 444, the capstone course for those pursuing a minor in Information Technology, spent their semester working with local clients to develop high level technology products for local businesses and organizations.

The class of 60 was broken up into 16 teams, and each team was given a client with a unique technology challenge related to web design, database development, social media communications and video production. Clients interested in working with students submitted an application and were hand selected.

John Donohoe, an account services specialist for Ciesa Design, a small design firm located in Lansing, heard about the class in an MSU Today update and decided to submit an application. Ciesa Design was looking for a new promotional video.

Donohoe is also a member of the MSU College of Arts and Letters Alumni Board Awards Committee, and submitted another application for the creation of a digitalized grant application process.

“I was involved with two groups and they both delivered professional products,” Donohoe said. “The Arts and Letters group listened to what we wanted and developed an interactive web tool that will make it easier for students and administrators in the grant application process.”

The team at Ciesa Design was also impressed with the promotional video and plan to show it at an upcoming a development conference.

“I definitely gained a lot of insight in how projects are managed and worked on in the real world, said Kyle Kulesza, a senior Media and Information student. “Working in groups on class projects is one thing, but the external client part really helped me learn skills I'll use in the future.”

The course is taught by Associate Professor Constantinos Coursaris and Assistant Professor Wietske Van Osch, both Media and Information faculty members.

By Victoria Bowles, senior Journalism major and ComArtSci Editorial Assistant

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Persistence Pays Off for ComArtSci Senior

Posted on: February 10, 2016

Michelai Graham -  City Pulse

Michelai Graham, a Journalism and Media and Information double major, isn’t afraid to travel far and wide for the things she’s passionate about. Originally from Sacramento, California, Graham chose to come to Michigan State to study journalism after falling in love with the field in high school.

After joining MSU Telecasters and working as an Assistant Director, Graham knew she also loved Media and Information and decided to participate in the “Beyond Bollywood: A Taste of Indian Media” study abroad program this past summer. She’s worked with IMPACT 89 FM and ComArtSci’s own DMAT lab.

She says her dream job is to some day be an investigative documentary filmmaker. But until that day, she’s gaining experience wherever she can.

Most recently, she worked as an intern for Lansing’s alternative weekly newspaper, City Pulse. As an intern, Graham wrote stories for the arts and culture section. She covered everything from summer arts festivals to infant French immersion classes.

“Everyone in the office was so nice about helping me get to where I needed to be,” Graham said, adding that she was able to improve her writing substantially by the end of the summer.

Michelai Graham India“I am a horrible headline writer, it’s usually the last thing I try to do,” she said. “But at the end of my internship, (my editor) was actually using my headlines.”

Graham first found City Pulse after attending ComArtSci Connect. She talked with a lot of larger media companies at the career event, and, while she recognized that they were great companies, she found herself drawn to the idea of a smaller organization.

“I noticed these were all good media companies, but I knew what type of goals I had and what I wanted to do,” she said.

So, Graham got in touch with the Arts and Culture Editor.

“I was consistent with reaching out. I just told them I was going to be in the area and kept reaching out to them, and they called me in for an interview and hired me the same day,” Graham said. “It was just a matter of being persistent.”

Graham received the Adrienne M. Johns Communication Arts and Sciences Internship Award in connection with her internship at City Pulse. She said ComArtSci Career Services has been instrumental in helping her find professional opportunities.

“Utilize Career Services. Julie (Hagopian) is awesome. They’ll teach you how to create a resume from scratch,” Graham said. “And definitely read the emails. Really just take advantage of all the resources. I think ComArtSci has opened the door for opportunities I never thought I would ever have.”

By Kelsey Block, Journalism and Arts and Humanities double major

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Brain Health, Peanut Butter and Smuggler: An Intern’s Summer in New York

Posted on: January 22, 2016

Dani Dillon

Media and Information senior Dani Dillon spent her summer chasing down producers and filmmakers on the streets of New York City. Working as an intern for Smuggler, a commercial production company, Dillon learned about a little bit of everything, from film production to navigating the subway.

Every day was different said Dillon, who talked with clients, transported equipment and managed resources to keep filming going. She also helped work on two commercials – one for Jif peanut butter and the other, a public service announcement focused on brain health.

“You can make a mistake, but only once. After that, you have to learn and figure it out. Everything in New York is high stakes,” she said. “You have limited opportunities to work with certain people and when you have those opportunities, it’s very intimidating.”

Dillon learned about the Smuggler internship through her cousin, a freelance producer who had worked with the company in the past.

The logistics of a summer in New York were a little difficult to figure out at first. Dillon was able to stay with family, but because the internship was unpaid, money was tight. She thought about getting a part-time job while she was there, but not many places wanted an employee who was only staying for two months.

Luckily, Dillon received the MSUFCU Internship Award, which she says made her experience at Smuggler possible.

“It was incredibly beneficial,” she said. “If you’re doing an unpaid internship in New York, you have to have padding. I would have had to take out a loan without it, and I wouldn’t have wanted to do it.”

As an aspiring documentarian, Dillon said her internship helped her to better understand the impact of financial support in film production.

"It's one thing when you’re a student and you have a pool of resources that are here for you to experiment with, but as someone trying to be a filmmaker and to find resources outside of school, (it’s hard) because they're not going to be handed to you by any means,” she said.

Relatedly, she encourages her fellow students to take advantage of the opportunities around the College of Communication Arts and Sciences.

"There are so many things you can do - with WKAR, with different media outlets. Take them on and find out what’s interesting to you, notice what skills are coming best to you and look for positions that might be most relevant to what you’re good at. A lot of research goes with that,” Dillon said. “ComArtSci does a great job of informing students about internships; they even have posters in the back of bathroom stalls.”

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Media and Information Student Branches Out at Home and Abroad

Posted on: December 16, 2015

Elise Conklin

Elise Conklin has always loved visual storytelling. Whether it’s “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Star Wars” or “Tropic Thunder,” the Media and Information junior will watch almost any kind of movie. And her favorite part about filmmaking is editing.

“As long as I’m behind an editing machine, I’m happy,” she said. “I like piecing a puzzle together. Why does this part work? Why is this part not working? It’s something that’s subtle and underappreciated, but it’s so wildly important to filmmaking.”

Over the summer, however, she got the chance to explore the pre-production side of filmmaking through an internship at Landmark Productions, a Grand Rapids-based video production company. As an intern, Conklin helped with a little bit of everything – from location scouting to communicating with clients.

“That was something I was really glad I got to do because it’s something that’s difficult to learn in a classroom,” she said.

Conklin went out on a limb to get the job. She met the owner, Kyle Burton Black, while she was in high school. He came to work with her school’s theater department, and he told the students about Landmark Productions. Fast forward a few years and Conklin reached out to him in an email asking for a job.

She was worried that she wouldn’t be able to find an internship before she left to study abroad in India, but Landmark Productions was more than happy to take her on for a few weeks.

Her favorite project involved a promotional shoot for Main Street Dueling Pianos. The pianists were playing at a wedding and the film crew followed them for the whole day, which ended up being about 15 hours.

“It was really valuable even though we weren’t there for the wedding specifically,” she said. “(Kyle) was talking about the logistics of how you can do more corporate videos artistically, and I think that’s a really important skill to have.”

While the internship was unpaid, Conklin was a recipient of the Adrienne M. Johns Communication Arts and Sciences Internship Award, which helped to cover expenses.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do the Landmark Production internship if I didn’t have the scholarship,” she said.

As soon as she finished her internship, Conklin flew to India to participate in the “Beyond Bollywood: A Taste of Indian Media” study abroad program. The group traveled to three different cities and explored the regional differences in Indian filmmaking.

“We were going nonstop and seeing everything we could possibly see, and we still only saw a tiny, tiny percentage of what India has to offer,” Conklin said. “It was a complete wild ride, but I loved every single second of it.”

While in India, Conklin and the other students helped to plan, shoot and edit a 15-minute film in just five days.

“It was one of the hardest things I think I’ve ever done,” she said. Their longest day on set was from 8 a.m. to 3 a.m. the next day. “We walked out of there like zombies, but still really excited zombies. If I could go back right now, I 100 percent would.”

Now, Conklin is in the process of applying for other internships, and she has some advice for other ComArtSci students.

“Talk to your professors. Form a relationship with them and they’ll remember you," she said. "Whenever they have an opportunity, they’ll remember you and you’ll get brought on to these really cool projects.

“I think ComArtSci is something really unique and really special. A lot of professors have real-world advice and a lot of real-world experience.”

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WKAR Offers Student Hands-On Experience

Posted on: December 4, 2015

Elishia Johnson, WKAR intern

During a class taught by Media and Information Instructor Lisa Whiting Dobson, Elishia Johnson took a tour of the WKAR studios and students were encouraged to apply for positions with the network. Johnson filled out an application that night and now is an intern for WKAR-TV where she does set staging, runs cameras, edits TV promotions and floor directs.

“Being able to travel and work staging for live productions like Silver Bells in the City and the Michigan Blues and Jazz Festival are a few of the most interesting things I have done at WKAR,” said Johnson, a Media and Information senior. “Being involved in these productions from set up to tear down prepares me to be able to do these things on my own for future jobs.”

After graduation, Johnson hopes to attend graduate school and find a job in video production.

“I am especially interested in documentaries and nonprofits,” she said, “I want to be able to tell the stories of people whose stories need to be heard. I also would like to instruct classes on video production. Most of all, I hope that after graduation I will be able to use my skills to give back to the community.”

But first Johnson is getting the opportunity at WKAR to work on real sets and experience the flow of real productions. She said the WKAR staff is committed to students and take the time to help guide them.

Before working at WKAR, Johnson had a video production internship at Peckham Inc.

She says her Communication Arts and Sciences classes have helped with her internships by giving her hands-on experience in the classroom.

“The coursework in ComArtSci classes mock real life situations,” Johnson said, “and our professors and instructors push us to strive for no less than professional standards.”

Johnson has long had a love for media and technology and was involved with media and technology activities all throughout high school. She says she enjoys the connection of expressing yourself while telling a story and provoking emotion from an audience.

“I like video production because it allows you to express yourself in many ways,” she said. “You have to be able to think logically, critically, analytically, but you are also able to tap into your inner creativity at the same time.”

WKAR offers opportunities for student employment and internships in media production (TV, radio and online), fundraising, marketing and promotion, and office administration. More than two dozen students are employed or hold internships each semester.

For more information on internship opportunities at WKAR, contact the WKAR main office, Communication Arts and Sciences Building Room 212, at 517-884-4700.

by Rachel Tang, Public Relations Account Executive/ Journalism Senior

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VH1 Internship Gives Student Entertainment Industry Experience

Posted on: October 23, 2015

Joey Gallagher mainJoey Gallagher’s love for the entertainment industry began in middle school.

The Media and Information junior continued working toward his passion this summer as an intern in VH1’s Production Development Department, where he organized pitches for shows from several different companies, previewed shows and looked for technical changes to make.

“It was a lot of looking at cuts of shows that wouldn’t come out for a month and saying, ‘This works well,’ or ‘The coloring is off,’” he said.

Gallagher got the job through a combination of networking and filling out applications. He first heard of the opportunity through his mother’s colleague, who works for VH1.

“I had my mom give her my email and she put me in contact with the intern coordinator,” Gallagher said. “I had to do all of my interviews and applications through Viacom, and I happened to get placed at VH1.”

On his last day at VH1, Gallagher was able to pitch an idea for a show to the company’s executives.

“It was really cool to hear the feedback. (They’d say) ‘We like this part, but maybe if you were to pitch it to the company, you’d change this part,’” he said.

For Gallagher, the hardest part about the internship was finding a place to live. He and his dad flew out to California for a weekend to go apartment hunting. Luckily, they found a place in the “Miracle Mile,” outside of West L.A. Gallagher leased a car for transportation, which he then drove home to Michigan at the end of the summer.

“I was a little homesick at first,” he said. But, he made sure to stay busy. He also hosted a number of family and friends who came to visit.

Overall, the 20-year-old really enjoyed his time at the Viacom brand.

“They’re so accommodating and helpful,” Gallagher said. “They’ll always answer emails, and they’re very into bringing kids up and showing them the business.”

Gallagher said his ComArtSci classes and involvement with Telecasters helped give him the experience he needed at VH1.

“The Media and Info classes have helped me so much,” Gallagher said. “Things I’ve learned in my classes, especially TC 342, really helped me because I knew what went on behind the scenes.”

When he first got to MSU, Gallagher said he was a little nervous about studying the entertainment industry.

“I didn’t think there was that much opportunity out there,” he said. “But going out to L.A. and meeting people and having that experience opened my eyes. There is so much opportunity out there for people who love production. Everyone is really understanding and open to teaching you new things.”

By Kelsey Block, Journalism and Arts and Humanities double major

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Student Interns with Google as Part of BOLD Program

Posted on: September 24, 2015

Google BOLD internMedia and Information senior Mariah Smith spent this past summer as an advertising services intern with Google in San Francisco, Calif., as part of the company’s Building Opportunities for Leadership & Development (BOLD) intern program.

BOLD was designed to provide exposure into the technology industry for students who are historically under-represented in this field. The program offers 11-week paid internships, with personal and professional development programming, executive speakers, mentoring and community building.

Smith’s role at Google included finding innovative solutions to meet the changing needs of clients, identifying business challenges, collaboratively shaping solutions that drive strategic initiatives, and keeping clients informed of Google products that can enhance their online and offline presence.

“The learning curve was very steep,” she said. “We had four weeks of training and then we had to jump on the phones ready to answer advertisers questions.”

One of her biggest challenges was not knowing what she would be working on from day-to-day.

“For me, school is a very linear experience...You go to class, the teacher tells you what to study, and then you are tested on that same material,” she said, “but the real world is not like that.”

However, Smith said she felt prepared for any challenges she faced.

“ComArtSci classes prepared me for my role at Google by giving me the interpersonal skills to communicate effectively,” she said, “which ended up being one of the most useful skills I could have had in my role.”’

To Smith, who worked with 14 other interns, the best part of the internship was the people she met along the way.

“From the interns to the full-time employees, everyone I came in contact with was so willing to help you in anyway they could,” she said.

From this internship, Smith said she gained 14 new friends, a new perspective on problem solving in a fast-paced environment, and the confidence to apply for jobs she never thought of.

She had first come across the Google internship after an informational meeting last fall about non-technical careers at Google. She sent an email to the speaker asking to get coffee the next time that person was in town and the two had coffee the next day.

“I encourage everyone to be bold and audacious and take that next step that you might be scared of taking,” Smith said. “If I had to credit how I landed my internship to anything, it would be to those two things.”

by Rachel Tang, Public Relations Account Executive/ Journalism Senior

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