For my first attempt at creating my own Professional website I was fortunate to have a course based in web authoring. During the spring of 2012 I learned web development and design, information architecture, and proper semantic markup. I initially had a very novice understanding of HTML and CSS but this course took me from knowing how to make a <div> to actually designing databases and my entire own WordPress Theme. This course entirely shifted my outlook on my professional life as I knew once I starting building dynamic web pages I could become a front-end web developer. At the time I was also hired by The State News web team so I was able to use the skills I was learning in class at work and vice versa.
Version 0.5 of the site was a hard coded HTML and CSS site that showed just how little I knew about web design. However, it showed me just how much work goes into simple HTML semantic markup. I hard coded all the lists and pages enhancing my knowledge of tags, the DOM, and how web pages work in general.
After this initial design I worked on creating wireframes and detailed views of the actual pages using adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Once I had created dynamic markups and designs documents we were able to transition this into a WordPress theme, which you can see the final result below. Taking these initial designs into full HTML markup was another example of learning at a rapid rate because I was doing the same with my job at State News at the time. I continue to use these skills of markups everyday, so this skill will continue to benefit me for years to come.
The student board for Professional Writing is known as Writers’ Bloc and as any student group needs a fairly involved social media manager to convey messages to fellow students, organize media, and continuously post. I was elected into the student board during the 2011-2012 school year as a representative for the Digital and Technical field with the Professional Writing program. Following a good year learning the structure of the Board I was promoted to social media coordinator for the 2012 school year. Since taking over the Facebook page I have been able to greatly improve the audience and reach of Writers’ Bloc through the metrics provided by Facebook. (See Below)
Along with Facebook I also have managed the Twitter account which unlike Facebook doesn’t have consistent metrics. Managing both has taught me that there are numerous messages and voices even from the same organization. Twitter constrains the abilities of people’s posts on purpose to force users to be as terse as possible while Facebook allows for great deal of information with links and events. This has been a valuable learning experience since I have learned how to utilize HootSuite an online service meant for managing multiple social media accounts. Also valuable has been learning how posts and regularity are key to growing audience, even if it isn’t necessarily original content. Reposts and Retweets for other organizations can result in very strong links with those organizations that will become your megaphone when you post your own content. I will continue to grow this skill and plan on being a social media coordinator for whichever company I work for in the immediate future.
For the past year I have worked for Middle of the Mitten Events (MOTM) in a number of capacities. MOTM is a 5 year old group that has put on concerts focusing on mid-Michigan rock and folk music. From the initial Middle of the Mitten concert to this year there has been immense growth from a one evening jam session of numerous bands to a three day festival spanning across East Lansing and Lansing. Last year I volunteered for the marketing team working on communications and viral marketing. I also was able to garner over $100 in donations towards the cost of running the festival such as printing tickets, handbills, and t-shirts. The festival, which is always held on the last weekend in January, was the highest attendance to date for MOTM. I also assisted in creating the press release for the organization for MOTM 4.
MOTM additionally works on a benefit show every spring for the past two years. Using the bands we network with during the festival MOTM has held a tsunami relief concert called “Jam for Japan” in 2010 and a relief show for the victims of the Dexter tornado in 2011. After the last relief show I was asked by Joel Heckeman, President of MOTM, to join the group as an official Board Member along with Dan Nufer, Jon Ritz, Kyle Brown, and new Board Member Alyson Gines. During these past few months we have gone through the process of becoming a 501(c)3 nonprofit. It is our hope as a Board that we will be able to expand beyond two main events and become a fully functioning concert organization that focuses on local music and won’t have to be constrained by profits to create amazing shows.
Since becoming a Board member I have worked with MOTM as a team leader managing the media team. We have created numerous media pieces like the logo you see here for MOTM 5 which will be held this year at the Record Lounge, S(CENE) Metrospace, and The Loft for the three days. It has been extremely rewarding process and learning experience as I have been part of the festival from so many vantage points – volunteer, social media coordination, viral marketing, Board member, and team leader. I hope that from this experience I’ll be able to create my own version of MOTM in the future, or expanding it to a state wide festival.
More information available below:
During my internship with Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) I was asked to write and coordinate articles for the quarterly newsletter that is sent out both electronically and in print form. The article I was asked to write specifically was based on the study done by MEC towards the feelings of the new taxes for infrastructure. Overall the survey found favorable results of people who wanted to pay more in taxes for improvements to roads, public transit, and most importantly light rail systems.
This article shows how I was able to take dense data and findings and put that into a detailed yet easily digestible piece for our readers. I also learned how to craft articles in the proper tone to match the overall narrative of MEC and was able to receive some accolades from my superiors when the final version was printed. I also created the infographic on the side of this article and our communications director chose the stock photo for the highways.
Michigan State is very privileged to have one of the most recognizable mascots in the nation, Sparty. What most people may or may not know is that there is always a student buried under that muscly Grecian warrior costume and each year there is a call out for students to apply for the position. Generally, student affairs sends a pretty poor looking application so for a project in my visual design course I redesigned the application. There are numerous important factors when it comes to who should become Sparty, specifically that they are within a specific weight and height range and have excellent grades. When I designed the document I used Adobe Acrobat so that this PDF could be sent out, filled out digitally in a web browser and returned to allow for data collection for the application process. With proper back-end database coding it would be able to filter those people that would not match the requirements and then allow for only appropriate applicants to end up in the proper mailbox. The PDF is available below.
One of the most rewarding and research projects I have worked on was a comprehensive communications strategy for The Ave community project. The Ave is the brain child of professors John Monberg, Vincent Delgado, and designers at Red Head Design Studio. Meant to do many things this project had three main audiences and purposes.
- Create a vibrant community between students at Michigan State and the corridor of Michigan Avenue
- Connect the artists of the greater Lansing area
- Be a major linchpin for the businesses of Michigan Avenue and build viral marketing
This project was worked on by a fantastic and talented team consisting of Rebecca Zantjer, Jamison Sheppard, Emily Dixon,Laura Allen, and myself. Using multiple methods of research we worked for two months straight on developing out this communications strategy. Starting with ethnographic research and stakeholder interviews we were able to get a feel for the organization and where the stakeholders mentioned above wanted the project to move towards. Taking this into consideration we developed a strategy that used the already existing goals but focused on creating personas, place-making, and network building. The entire project culminated in the document you can view below and is one of the most comprehensive projects I have had the privilege of working with.
During my course based in visual rhetoric were were tasked to create a document that epitomized a song, poem, or phrase. At the time I was going through some of my old hip hop and Blackalicious is one of my favorite groups so I knew immediately what I wanted to do. The caveat to the assignment was that were only allowed to use Microsoft Word to create the document. If any of you have worked in MS Word for document design I think it’s safe to say you just don’t do it. With the background coding MS does to documents and test along with the wacky constraints they put on the user, this assignment was not as easy as I first thought. Thankfully I was able to work through the struggles to have something that made sense. After turning it in I was told that my work was exemplarily and that I should re-examine it with a different software program.
That is precisely what I did, and took the initial idea and reiterated it into poster form using Adobe inDesign. This poster is available for print from the link below.
For this visual project I was asked by my insanely talented and smart brother to help him create a logo for his new student group, Students Organized Against Prisons (SOAP). It is a group that was birthed out of his work at the University of Michigan and is an advocate for prisoners and those affected by having their family members incarcerated. There has been flood of young men into the prison industrial system, specifically black and brown young men, and SOAP works to break the cycle through advocating for prisoners rights, abolishing mandatory drug minimum sentences, and recitivism of released prisoners.
For this logo I was tasked to create something that was simple while conveying the overall message of SOAP and make sure to have the groups acronym in the logo. As you can see below I am very much a minimal designer as I chose a font with strong lines to emulate the bars of prison, the fist for the O, and stark contrast to make the image stand out when printed or in web form.
During my time spent at Michigan Environmental Council I was also privileged to work with the health group and specifically is Michigan Alliance for Lead Safe Housing (MILASH).
Working communications with MILASH was very rewarding in learning about non-profit alliance building and development. We set out to redevelop the site and I made the site (linked above) more W3C compliant. Though built on Google sites due to its complete lack of funding we were able to drive traffic back up to closer to non-profit industry standards.
Before I finished my time with MILASH I created a social media strategy so that people who take over the internship in the future would be able to continue that growth. Developing a consistent and thoughtful digital identity is extremely important in non-profit work for two main reasons in my mind.
1. The affordability of social media allows for rich and well developed content for minimal to no fees.
2. Keeping a consistent identity in the digital spheres makes donors, volunteers, and supporters feel a part of the non-profit.
Having the social media strategy allowed for the MILASH Facebook page grow in reach from 15 “Likes” to 35 during my one month working for MILASH. Currently there is an intern working to continue the growth who I’ve been in discussions on how to keep up the work I started.
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During my communications internship for Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) during the summer of 2011 I was tasked to creating a standard Powerpoint for the organization and in doing such realized there was a vast array of levels of comprehension with Powerpoint. I firmly believe in the use of presentations and visual and design rhetoric but when you see some very unprofessional presentations it only makes sense to create a standards document. As such I did just that for MEC for all the people who needed help with creating effective powerpoint presentations.