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Alumni Testimonial: What Led Me to the MDM Program

Nov 21, 2016 By Chris Sroka

My name is Chris Sroka and I am a student/alumni from the 10th Cohort of the Master of Digital Media program at the Centre for Digital Media. I am a digital media producer, video editor and content creator focusing in Marketing. I’d like to share my experience before I came to the program that ultimately led to why I chose this program and explain some of the things I learned.

I have always been a creative but when it came to university I decided to go the safe route and pursue a degree in business. At the time I believed that I was most likely to get a job out of university with a business degree. I chose the marketing stream within my business degree because I thought it would be the most creative field. During the course of my degree, I realized that marketing was not nearly as creative as I hoped it to be. At the same time I had picked up video production for fun and I found that I had a real passion for it. It allowed me to fill this creativity hole that my business degree was not fulfilling. What I later learned was that having this additional skill made it a lot easier to find a job.

I was fortunate enough to find a job out of university where I was able to combine my education in marketing with my passion for video production. I was hired as a video producer/project coordinator within a digital marketing agency. I focused on creating video promotions for small to medium sized businesses but I also had my hands in digital marketing campaigns, graphic design, social media, sales, sales support, and product/project management. I continued in this role for almost 3 years but nearing the end of it I was feeling stuck. If I wanted to move up in the company it would have taking me out of video production, which was not the direction I wanted to go in my career and switching jobs was a risk. I was at a crossroads and was very unsure about what I should do to progress my career.

I had always thought about going to graduate school. My father and sister have graduate degrees and I’ve always felt a slight pressure to follow suit. I started to look at graduate programs as well as certificate programs. I was interested in anything that I thought would my progress my career and get me out of the slump I was feeling. The more I researched the more I believed that the best option for me would be an MBA. My boss at the time had just completed his MBA so I began to inquire about his experience. My overall impression from his program was how uncreative it appeared. It seemed to follow the same format as my undergraduate program and I wanted to avoid the same type of education that I found there. I also dreaded the thought of taking the GMAT. I was looking for something different and therefore my search continued.

I first heard of the MDM program from a colleague of mine. We were also discussing MBA programs since he had already completed his when he brought up how I might be a better candidate for the MDM program. It was after this conversation that I started my own research into the program and reached out to the CDM about applying.  

I ended up choosing to apply, and only apply to the CDM rather than an MBA program for a number of reasons. I wanted to be creative. I didn’t exactly know what I wanted to do but I had this desire to create new things within a production environment. I wanted an alternative to the typical educational experience, without tests or textbooks as I felt unfulfilled in my undergraduate program and did not want to experience the same thing over again. I wanted to work on industry projects that weren’t just assignments but instead created actual solutions to real world problems. I wanted to further my education, building on my past experience but allowing me to learn something new. I wanted to work on projects that my previous experience would never have allowed me to do.

I was accepted into the 10th cohort and started the program in September 2015 for what would come to be a very transformative experience. This master’s program is very unique because each individual person is going to have a very different experience. A programmer will have a different experience than a designer or project manager. I often wonder how different my experience would be if I ever came back to the program in a different focus.

Chris Sroka Grad

I won’t go into all the projects I worked on (Trailer Puppy, Code-Care) but I do want to focus on some things that I did learn. Even though this program doesn’t directly teach you hard skills, I learned a lot about design through the process of our projects, through coursework and through peer-to-peer learning, which is also an important part of this program. The freedom within the projects allows you to explore new areas if you have the willingness to learn. Proper communication, empathy, and understanding are some of the biggest soft skills I developed while working in multidisciplinary teams. I learned how to properly manage the scope and variety of deliverables of industry projects. I learned that being multi-skilled is an asset and is something that is very valuable in this program as well as in industry. I learned how to be confident as an individual but even more so in a team.

The program is truly a transformative experience. It’s very difficult to properly articulate what exactly I learned or what exactly it was that made it transformative. I believe that it’s the combination of learning by actually doing and the environment that we are in that fosters personal growth. The classmates that I will be graduating with are different than the ones I started with. We have all experienced new challenges and succeeded in finding solutions to real world problems.    

I have fortunately been hired within the CDM’s marketing department to fulfill my internship requirement, and hopefully show off the new skills I developed under the microscope of the school. I cannot recommend this program enough and if you have any questions please feel free to contact me. If you would like to see the different types of projects I worked on then please visit my portfolio site.

Chris Sroka Presenting