Saturday, October 4, 2014

How I Answered the Question, What Should I Go to College For?

Photo credit - Ashley Kaul
I think it’s pretty rare for someone to know exactly what he or she wants to be when they grow up. No matter what stage you are in life– an 8th grader, a high school senior, a college student or 40-something– that question can be difficult to answer.

Technology makes it even more complicated because old job positions become obsolete, and new job positions are created all the time. In middle school I was taught that computers were going to be very important in our future jobs, but there was no way of knowing then that the job title, Social Media Manager would be something you could hold. Facebook and Twitter didn’t exist then– if you can even imagine!

So, how do you choose what to major in or what program to pursue when there seems to be so many possibilities and they are changing all the time?

Through my own experiences I have a few suggestions that may lead you down the right path in choosing a major or program when you want to go to college but you don’t know what you want to study.

Ask Yourself What You’ve Taught Yourself to Do in Your Spare Time

I’ve heard advice similar to this. Whatever you like to do in your spare time, that’s what you should be doing as a career. Well, I like watching TV in my spare time, but I can’t really make a career out of that, can I? That’s why I think the real question to ask yourself is, what have you pursued in your free time that required effort, learning and practice? This is the question that’s helped me on my current career path. What was I actively learning to do in my spare time? Was there a new skill I was teaching myself?

After watching YouTube videos I was inspired to create my own videos. I opened up the editing program that came with my computer, and I followed tutorials. I investigated the software, tinkered around with it and found out what it was capable of doing. I looked to forums when I had questions. I was learning without realizing I was learning. I was learning on my own without someone telling me I needed to learn it. That was a good sign that I had the drive to pursue video editing. What’s also great about learning some things on my own is that I was already slightly ahead of the game when I started taking my audio-video editing classes.

Visit the Career Center

Photo credit - Ashley Kaul
I think the most helpful thing you can do if you really have no idea what kind of job you want is to visit the Career Center. If you aren’t sure what kind of job would be interesting to you or aren’t sure what your strengths are, they will be able to help you figure out both in the most tangible way possible.

At the Career Center, you can take a series of aptitude and interest assessments. Some of these assessments include the MBTI (personality preference), Strong Interest Inventory (career personality/interest), CareerScope (interest and aptitude), EDITs (CAPS - aptitude, COPES- values and COPS-interest), Values assessment, Motivated Skills and more.

When you merge these types of assessments, you find out where your interests and abilities overlap and are provided with a list of jobs that are likely to suit you. The people in the Career Center will print out this information and discuss it with you so you can understand what it all means. They will help you choose the appropriate program to enroll in so you can pursue specific careers. They have the tools for you to research these careers as well so you can narrow down the list.

Photo credit - Ashley Kaul
If you are interested in this option, I recommend taking the Career Assessment Course. It only takes a few hours of your time during one day to complete. I took it, and I think it’s a great way to learn more about yourself, your interests and the skills you already have that can be applied in the classroom and in your future job. It’s available at all three Moraine Park campuses (Fond du Lac, West Bend and Beaver Dam) and it’s FREE for everyone – students, prospective students and the general public.

The Career Center is an invaluable resource in any stage of your career life. I recommend checking out their other workshops: LinkedIn, Dressing for Success, Interview Tips and Practice, and the Job Search, just to name a few. To find out more information, visit the Career Center’s webpage.

Look at Programs

Look at the list of programs MPTC has to offer and find one that is interesting to you. Click on the list of required classes and their descriptions. If you think you’d like to take the majority of those classes, it may be the right program for you. I did this when I decided that I wanted to learn more about video editing. I clicked on the Audio-Video Certificate classes, read the description and I wanted to take all the classes. I wanted to learn how to do everything that the description said was taught in those classes.

Conduct Informational Interviews/Job Shadow a Professional

Talking to someone who’s currently working in the field you’re interested in is a great way to see what a career is like from the perspective of someone who’s living it. You’ll be able to ask questions about what they like and don’t like about the job, what their job duties consist of and what a typical day for them is like. This is also a great way to network and/or find a mentor.

Volunteer to Get a Feel for the Atmosphere

Do you think you’d like to work in a hospital? Do you think you’d like to work in a school? Find a way to volunteer in the work environment where your potential career is located. It’s also a good way to find out what kinds of people you’d like to work with such as children, the elderly or some other demographic.

By following the above suggestions, I was able to really narrow in on the kind of career I want. I took assessments to find out what I liked and learned what skills I possessed. I discovered a hobby that was more than just a hobby. I’ve volunteered different places to see what atmosphere suited me. I learned what age group and type of people I was most interested in working with. I learned about the job market and how to make myself more employable. It’s a process, but it is well worth it when you get to enjoy the outcome.

If you have other suggestion for how you chose your program, major or career, please share in the comments.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Mud, Camera… Action!

My friends participating in a Tough Mudder jump
We live in a time where people want to share their experiences with more than words; they want to share them in photographs and videos. And they want to share it with more than just their friends and family; they want to share it with the world. Technology has allowed us to do just that. This was evident to me when I was a spectator at a Tough Mudder event recently.

I saw several participants with GoPro cameras attached to their heads. No doubt they were going to share footage from these small, HD cameras on an online platform such as YouTube or Vimeo. I think that’s pretty cool, especially since I would never participate in such an extreme event, to see what it’s like to complete these mud-covered obstacles from their point of view.

I spot some GoPros!
I also saw some other cool video and audio technologies on my first day of my internship. After filling out some paperwork and signing in, I was shown around the offices, storage rooms and studio. There were cameras, computers, microphones and switchboards. There was a lot of things new to me, too, so I don’t remember what all the equipment and systems were called. I haven’t done any work yet, but it sounds like I will be doing some editing soon.

In my Post-Production class, we’re learning how to work in 3-D space in Adobe After Effects. You can create layers, say, with city skylines, and zoom through the space between them. You can also take flat images, give them depth and animate them. I’m working on a project with an After Effects icon I built in the program for practice. It’s really awesome to picture something in your head and create it in a program exactly how you imagined it.

Speaking of brining a concept to reality, we’re learning the beginning stages of how to do just that in my Pre-Production class: Taking an idea and turning it into something visual. During our last meeting, we looked at commercial scripts and learned how to line them. This is what you do to plan what shots you need. From that, you can build a storyboard. Our assignment this week requires us to do these activities on our own.

Between homework, classes, the internship and work, I’m trying to get some friends together to play disc golf at the West Bend campus. I played for the first time last year and it was a blast. I figured we should do it now while the weather is good enough to enjoy being outside. Let’s hope I can squeeze it in soon because it looks like Mother Nature might race through the fall season.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

My Labor Day with the President of the United States

Ticket to see the president's speech
I had the whole day free. No class. No work. So when my dad invited me to march with his union in the Labor Day parade in Milwaukee, I said yes. And after I said yes, something exciting happened.

It was announced on the news that President Obama was going to be speaking at Laborfest. How awesome, I thought, but I was sure that people would be lined up for miles to get tickets. I probably wouldn’t see him. But then I heard on the radio that those marching in the parade would receive tickets to hear the President speak… That meant me! I was going to hear the President of the United States speak in person. Wow.

We left early that morning because we figured security was going to be tight. We wore shirts with the union logo and carried flags. They provided us with ponchos when it started to rain right before we lined up. But as it was time to start walking, the rain let up and we were able to take our ponchos off and march down the streets of Milwaukee. Our marching took us down to the Summerfest grounds where the President was to speak at one of the stages.

Lining up for the parade
As the ticket had explained, we went through airport-like security. They checked our tickets, our purses, and I walked through a metal detector. Surprisingly, we got there early enough to sit on the benches. I was glad to have a seat after marching quite a distance in what had now become a very hot, sunny day. We weren’t very close to the stage, but not very far either. In fact, we were near the cameras that were set up on a platform. Since I am studying video production, I took notice of the camera crew getting situated while we waited two hours for the President. We knew he was on his way soon when we saw his airplane fly over.

It was an exciting day and well worth the sunburn across my face and arms.

Taking my seat before the speech

The camera crew setting up

The president speaking on stage

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Bread of Video-Making

You know that part of the story maybe about three-fourths of the way through the book? It’s the part that’s the most exciting; you just can’t seem to put the book down because you are smack-dab in the middle of the action. I feel like that is my life right now. I am at a climax.

It is my busiest semester and it’s also my last semester at MPTC. While I am not a full time student, I am taking two 3-credit classes this semester on top of my full time job and an internship.

Yes, I just mentioned I have an internship this semester! I will be working and learning at WBCTV. I haven’t started yet, but I think it’s going to be a wonderful learning experience that will help me reach my career goals. I will be working with professionals and professional equipment. My instructors are always looking for ways for students to get real-world experience, so I very much appreciate my instructor brining this opportunity to my attention. Thank you!

After attending the first week of class, I can see there is still much to learn in the classroom about making videos in addition to what I have learned already and will be bringing to my internship. I am taking both Pre-Production and Post-Production, which I refer to as the “bread” of the video-making process (with production – the actual filming – as the meat).

Pre-Production is the planning part. We only had an overview of what pre-production is in class, but from what I remember this includes the script, storyboard, delegating roles and responsibilities of crew members, equipment needed and deciding what you may need to create in post-production for effects. I’m sure there is even more to it than that, and I will have the rest of the semester to learn more.

Post-Production is the editing part of video-making, to put it simply. It includes sound and video editing, title sequences, special effects, sound effects and touching up errors that may have occurred during filming. Your job in post-production is to mesh everything together into one cohesive story. As I learn more, I’ll be sure to share my class experiences with you. I’ll also be sharing my internship experience, and whatever else this semester brings, in my blog. Keep reading to find out what happens next in the story of my life, my future and my MPTC.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

This Summer

This summer is going by quickly. Summer always does, especially when it’s busy. But I’m okay with that because I am looking forward to taking my last two classes. Along with Pre Production, I have recently signed up for a second class, Post-Production. That means I will be earning my certificate a semester earlier than originally planned. I’m really looking forward to Pre-Production where we will delve into storyboards a bit more. I love coming up with stories and planning them. Storyboards are a great way to show your ideas to others and make sure everyone involved understands the plan.

I’ve been working overtime every week this summer, but I have managed to have some fun outside of work, too. I went to Summerfest where a friend and I shared a paddleboat ride. A half hour paddling will sure earn you some muscle! I also hosted my annual Peep Roast. My friends and I have been roasting Peeps for several years now. The sugar melts and turns into a crunchy, golden glaze. It really is the best way to eat a Peep.

I’ve managed to carve out some time for career-related things as well. Since I have several more items to add to my portfolio, I’m working on updating my portfolio website. I’ve had to refresh my memory on a few things, which is why I’m glad I’ve kept my notes from when I was enrolled in the web design courses at MPTC.

Helping others is something important to me, so I’m pleased to have the opportunity to do so for two events this summer. One, which already took place in June, was an event to honor and help veterans; another one, which is happening this week, is called GISHWHES. If you haven’t heard of it, look it up. It’s a scavenger hunt that raises money for charities and encourages participants to do random acts of kindness.

For my friends heading back to class this fall, enjoy the rest of your summer vacation. With the slightly-cooler-than-normal temperatures we’ve been having, I’m hoping for a mild fall. And if you’ve never roasted a Peep over a fire, I highly recommend trying it before summer is over!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

My Video Demo Reel - Capturing and Editing Video/Audio

Note: Please change the settings of the YouTube player to HD for best quality.

Since I shared some of my work from my Motion/Visual Graphics class in a previous blog, I thought you may also like to see some of the footage I filmed and edited for my other classes: Video Camera/Lighting Techniques and Video/Sound Editing. It's only a sample of my work, not the full videos, so I'm amazed I have  a full four minutes worth of footage in this demo reel. It didn't seem like it at the time, but I've already made quite a lot of videos in a relatively short amount of time. I've got two more classes to take, which are Pre Production and Post Production, and then I will have completed the Audio/Video certificate-- and I'll have a whole bunch of new projects to include in another demo reel!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

My After Effects Demo Reel

Note: Please watch this video at it's highest quality by adjusting the YouTube player settings if necessary.

As promised, I have put together a collection of projects from my Motion/Visual Effects class. All these projects were created in After Effects, a really cool program used to create animations and title sequences. We completed the tutorial exercises in class, and then we were asked to create our own original projects. What you see here are the pieces I've created along with a description of the techniques used for each one.

This class has given me the foundation to create more advanced motion and visual effects on my own. Recently, I've used the program to construct a kinetic typography ad for a gaming community which raises money for childrens' hospitals. I enjoyed learning After Effects much more than I thought I would, and I plan on using it a lot in the future to supplement my Adobe Premiere projects.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Digital Switchers and Summer Plans

Digital switcher with multiple camera views
Well, another semester is over and it’s summer for MPTC students. I had a pretty memorable classes for our last week. We filmed a mock multi-camera live production in my Video-Sound Editing class using a digital switcher. The event was tabletop paper football game played by the students in my class. We even had a designated commentator giving play-by-plays. We used three cameras to capture the action from different angles. I took a turn at the digital switcher. It’s a device that lets you view all three cameras and choose which shot will be used. You can edit footage on the fly as you’re filming. It’s like those behind-the-scenes of live TV you may have seen (but on a much smaller scale).

Later on, we learned how to edit footage from multiple cameras on our computers. This is another way you can edit multi-camera footage. We had to sync the footage together. Much like the digital switcher, we could play all the videos at once and edit on the fly by choosing what shot we wanted to use.

Also during the last class we watched everybody’s green screen productions. They were great and really fun to watch. One group “teleported” themselves to different places. They even figured out how to create an effect that made them look like the zapped out of the space they were standing in. After class, my group and I celebrated a job well done by going out for ice cream. I will miss seeing them every week while we are on summer break.

Speaking of summer break, I’m really not getting a break this summer. I’ll be working overtime at my job. I’m also working on some side projects. I’ll be making videos for a gaming community that raises money for children’s hospitals. I’m in the process of making a video for them now using kinetic typography in Adobe After Effects. It’s a challenge, but it’s one of the coolest things I’ve made on my own so far.

How will you be spending your summer break?