Sheva Shen first came to the Centre for Digital Media from China as part of the CDM’s first IDEA-X Program. As a student from the Communication University of China (CUC) the experience left a huge impression on him—so much so that he changed his education plans, brought up his IELTS score and applied to MDM.
Having interned at DARE Vancouver last spring as part of the MDM program, Sheva now works at MacLaren McCann as an Interactive Developer, working on large national campaigns for clients such as GM and Mastercard.
We sat down to chat with Sheva about his first experiences in Vancouver, what work he’s doing now and what advice he has for other Chinese students who are thinking of applying to the Master of Digital Media program.
The following is a recent interview with Sheva Shen at the Centre for Digital Media.
1. You first came to CDM through IDEA-X. What was that experience like?
Yes, I was part of the first IDEA-X workshop 3 years ago. I was in my 3rd year at CUC and it was my first time in Vancouver, including my first time using English with classmates, professors and industry professionals. The experience was special. I really liked Vancouver.
2. Then you decided to apply to the MDM program?
I wasn't planning on doing my Masters degree here in Canada. I was planning to continue on at CUC, but changed my mind after I did IDEA-X. Thankfully, my family supported me really well. It's tough, though. I haven't seen my family for 2 years now but I'm excited to be going back to China in January.
3. Why did you choose MDM over a Masters program at CUC?
Vancouver was one of the main reasons, definitely. It's beautiful, it's green, and it's a great city to live in.
I also chose MDM for the program itself. At CUC I wouldn’t have worked closely with the industry, and I wouldn't have worked on projects. In China, you pick a topic, study and write papers. That's not my personality. I enjoy working with people.
4. Tell us about MacLaren McCann. What do you do now?
I work for MacLaren McCann [a marketing communications agency] as an interactive developer, working on online ads and interactive projects. MacLaren McCann’s headquarters is located Toronto and I work in the Vancouver office on national client projects.
I’ve worked there since May, and was previously doing my internship at DARE [a digital agency with offices in Vancouver, Toronto and the UK]. In the last semester at school everyone in my cohort was looking for an internship in games but I was different, advertising was my goal all along. With Dennis Chenard's help I was connected with the HR department at DARE and did my internship there. Thanks to DARE, I learned a lot. And then I joined MacLaren McCann to formally start my career.
Now I work with huge national and multi-national brands like the Royal Bank of Canada, Ontario Lottery Corporation, Wind Mobile, Mastercard and General Motors. If you see something online from these brands, I've probably worked on it.
Working at MacLaren McCann been different from school. When I was in the MDM program, I mostly worked on game projects that were 3-months long. Here at MacLaren I work on smaller, shorter projects, which are more intense. I think that's the big difference between the game industry and the advertising industry.
5. Any advice or tips for students, particularly CUC students, who are thinking of applying to MDM?
Most Chinese students have strong hard skills. They can code, they can design and they can use the software. But they need to think about how to develop their communication skills—how to talk to their classmates, clients and bosses.
Chinese students also need to not be afraid of making mistakes. There's no judgment here as long as you express yourself and explain why you did something. At MDM everyone will help you, because they recognize that’s how you develop yourself.