Wednesday 16th October 2019
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Advice From IDS Alum: Janet Hofmann

Janet Hofmann is an Interactive Digital Studies alum that recently graduated in May 2016. Janet pursued the bundles of digital advertising and digital imaging all while diving into many graphic design courses. Throughout her time at UNI she crafted her skills and landed an amazing job at Century 21 Signature Real Estate, where she has been utilizing her wide range of skills. Janet assists agents with their marketing strategies, as well as trains new agents on how to use the tools provided within the company that includes Facebook and various other marketing tools. Janet also creates custom graphic designs, works on website development and content writing, and leads strategic marketing tool workshops.

Is there anything you wish you could have done before graduating to help better prepare yourself for the “real world”?

Quite honestly, I wish I would have worried less about my grades, and focused more on what I love. I’ve been working full time in a marketing position for almost 6 months now, and let me tell you, I’ve never written another paper or studied for an exam and when I went through the interviewing process, they never once asked me what my GPA was or what classes I took; they cared about my experience, my strengths, and my skills.

 

How has being involved in the Interactive Digital Studies Program helped you in applying for jobs and building a career?

Being an IDS major introduced me to so many different people with different interests, backgrounds, and life goals, in a way other majors can not. Other majors are stuck in the same courses while I was in nearly every building on campus and met lots of people earning different degrees.

 

Interactive Digital Studies may not be a major that everyone has heard of or know about, so why would you tell students to pursue a degree in it?

IDS allows you to study what you want. Most of the professors are supportive and allow you to mold the major to what you love and are passionate about. If you feel that a certain course will not be advantageous for you, talk to the department head of that bundle. I switched out a few courses in my bundles to really pursue what I was passionate about, and that made my college career more enjoyable.

 

What were some of the most valuable skills you have taken from your degree in IDS?

What I feel was most valuable from my time in the IDS program was the ability to get a footing in many aspects of marketing/advertising, but also be able to focus on what I am really passionate about. In my current position, I am quite free to help agents with many aspects of their marketing strategies or plans, including social, websites, graphic design, print marketing, etc. Having that freedom in the IDS program to pursue what I love doing was extremely valuable.

 

What would you suggest to current students on how to make the most of the IDS program.

Do NOT be afraid of stepping up with new ideas, processes, projects, etc. The IDS professors (namely Bettina Fabos and Matthew Wilson) are more than willing to help you grow personally and professionally. Students are what keep the professors on their toes and at the forefront of the marketing/advertising world.

Network and get to know your peers; they’re going places, and so are you. Having those connections will definitely help you down the line.

It’s super important to learn the “soft skills,” in addition to those technical skills, while you’re in college. I know that sounds stupid and clichè, but it’s very true. You need to know how to communicate well (in person and in writing), be professional, solve problems, and know when to ask for help. Those may not come from your classes per se, but it will come from your internships, your part-time jobs, your clubs, your involvement on campus, your interactions with professionals on campus (professors, staff, custodial, etc) and your friends.

 

Did you have any shocks or struggles from going from the student phase to the “real world”?

For the first couple months, I struggled with actually NOT having to work after hours. I was checking email and being available to our agents outside of my 8-5 because I was so used to always being on in my school years and having school work lurking in the back of my mind. It was harder for me because real estate agents are nearly always working: showing houses, posting on social media, coming up with new ideas, filling out paperwork. It just came to remind me why I’m happy in my 40 hour, 8-5 work week, where I’m free to spend hours with Nalla (my dog), eat supper with friends, catch a movie, sit on my couch and binge watch Netflix, craft, online shop, travel etc, without feeling guilty.

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About The Author

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Nick is the Senior Editor of blog.ids, the official blog of the Interactive Digital Studies program at the University of Northern Iowa. If you can't find Nick blogging or posting, he is most likely at a concert somewhere. Nick also has a love for social media and the pop culture realm.