Centre for Digital Media helps catapult grads into satisfying careers

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      The Centre for Digital Media likes to trumpet the success of its graduates. On its website, the Vancouver-based graduate school points out that 95 percent of its alumni are working in their fields.

      Two of those graduates are Christopher Sroka and Carolyn Fung, who each credit the Centre for Digital Media for putting them on a path to finding their dream jobs.

      Sroka, a brand-content specialist at Whistler Blackcomb, said his job entails curating marketing content through his employer’s social channels. This involves dealing with agencies, contractors, photographers, videographers, and athletes.

      “I make sure all the content goes to the right place at the right time with the right message,” Sroka told the Straight by phone.

      He graduated in 2012 from UBC’s Okanagan campus with a bachelor of management degree with a focus on marketing. He found a job at a marketing agency but found himself “siloed” into video-editing because he was good at it. He wanted to be exposed to other areas.

      “I felt kind of limited—or backed into a corner,” Sroka acknowledged.

      He was attracted to the Centre for Digital Media program because it focused on teams of students working collaboratively on projects for real clients as opposed to writing a thesis. “I could put this on my résumé and I could use this afterward,” he said.

      The school opened in 2007 on Great Northern Way as a partnership between four postsecondary institutions—UBC, SFU, the B.C. Institute of Technology, and Emily Carr University of Art + Design—and it’s home to the master of digital media program. While there, Sroka learned that failing can be just as important as succeeding because it offers useful learning experiences.

      In fact, he said, the school actually encourages students to experience failures as they refine and improve their projects.

      “If I didn’t attend the school, I would have been more scared to try new things and get out of my comfort zone,” he said.

      Sroka obtained an internship with the Centre for Digital Media’s marketing department because a staff member went on maternity leave. The videos he created led to him being hired part-time with the Vancouver Canucks, which led to him working for Whistler Blackcomb.

      Fung, a producer and project manager at Vancouver-based NGX Interactive, obtained her bachelor degree in business administration at Acadia University in Nova Scotia before spending several years in the marketing business. As a millennial, she was an early adopter of Facebook ad campaigns, launching the first in B.C. before concluding that she needed to learn more about digital media.

      That led her to take the master’s program at the Centre for Digital Media in the 2014-15 school year. Her career goal was to develop interactive experiences in museums and discovery centres.

      “It really changed my life forever,” Fung told the Straight by phone.

      At the school, she was the project manager on a team that worked with the Vancouver Maritime Museum to re-create the experience of travelling on the St. Roch through the Northwest Passage. Turning the ship’s wheel brought up different video screens.

      “Basically, I ended up on that project for two terms,” Fung recalled. “I think what the CDM provides you with is a lot of hands-on practical experience to get in there and build things.”

      She credited the CDM for enhancing her cultural literacy because it brought her in contact with students from other countries.

      After graduating, Fung joined NGX Interactive, where she produces interactive exhibits for cultural institutions. She has worked on projects for Science World, the H. R. MacMillan Space Centre, Halifax’s largest discovery centre, and the Lone Star Flight Museum in Texas. This has entailed everything from creating touch-screen exhibits to multi-user projects that involve virtual reality and augmented reality.

      “The CDM helped position me for being where I am now in terms of giving me the opportunity to work with industry,” Fung said.