Working in the digital media industry requires a complex set of proficiencies. Because the industry merges science and technology with art and design, individuals employed in digital media jobs need to have a strong grasp of some key skills.
Digital media includes everything from interactive design and digital entertainment to games and e-learning. It also includes digital film, animation and special effects, mobile applications, and digital healthcare. All these fields require both technical or “hard” skills such as programming, design, and animation, and non-technical or “soft” skills such as team building, goal setting, and project management.
Given the industry’s dynamic nature, some of the necessary skills for success are often overlooked. When the Master of Digital Media program was developed in 2006, our team worked closely with industry leaders to identify skill gaps in the workforce and then to create a curriculum that would address these gaps. As the program enters its 15th year, we continue to see the value in nurturing these 6 skills in every MDM graduate.
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1. Design Process
It’s vital for everyone on a digital media team to understand the design process. Whether you’re the project manager, programmer, or designer, it’s important to know concepts like pipeline creation, rapid prototyping, and ideation. Understanding the entire process will allow you to manage your role on the team and empathize with your team members—crucial for a cohesive, effective team.
It’s essential to be aware of how your work and your role on a digital media project impacts the team. Knowing how to set your own goals, being able to self-reflect, and documenting your work helps you understand your strengths and weaknesses, and will highlight your assets to the team, while encouraging you to improve upon the areas where you’re not as strong.
3. Time Management
In the fast-paced industry of digital media, it’s crucial to know how to manage your time, and recognize how your timelines affect the team’s productivity. Being able to scope a project, set measurable goals and follow a pipeline can be the difference between missing a deadline and shipping a deliverable on time.
Communication is key in any workplace, and digital media is no exception. You need to know how to articulate your ideas—to your team, your supervisor, and your clients. Pitching your ideas clearly and concisely, understanding body language and being able to express your ideas in both written and spoken form will help ensure your ideas will be heard and respected.
5. Information Literacy
To succeed in this dynamic industry, you need to understand the digital media landscape and think critically about where it’s going. Knowing creative rights so that you’re not breaking copyright law, understanding the future of the industry and technology’s place in the world, and evaluating the top players in the sector will set you apart from your peers.
Teamwork is the most important skill you can bring to the table in the digital media industry. Being able to listen to others, trust fellow team members, resolve conflicts, and manage roles and responsibilities is crucial to the success of any team project.
Note: This post was originally published in February 2014 and has been updated for accuracy.