Fall 2014 Semester Reflections

The Fall, 2014 semester is officially over. Happy Holidays to all who are reading this post. I thought it would be appropriate to dedicate this weblog post to my reflections on the semester which just ended. It has been an intense semester. We are also going to be making some changes to the way we teach classes in the CMWEB curriculum (that will be the subject of a weblog post in a week or two). First, I want to emphasize a few thoughts:

  • never stop learning and challenging yourself
  • always do more than is expected of you
  • continue to take responsibility for your education and career
  • network with your peers

Ok, let’s focus a bit more on each of the above ideas.

Never stop learning and challenging yourself – this past semester, I instituted a new way of grading lab assignments and also added a number of new badges to our classes. The grading scale was changed to WOW (impressive work), OK (this is about what I expected), MEH (you did this at the last minute, didn’t you?), YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME (you really thought this was all that you had to do), and UNACCEPTABLE (really missed this one). There were a number of students who stepped up the the challenge and received WOW and in many cases a WOW badge indicating their work was something worthy of showing to a potential employer or client. If you received one of these badges for any course work, you are doing great and meeting the expectations of potential employers. If you did not receive any badge for exemplary work, ask yourself if you are really trying as hard as you can? The job market remains highly competitive. These badges are my (not so subtle) way of communicating whether I think you are likely to succeed once you complete your studies.

Always do more than is expected of you – We also had one individual obtain the QUIZ GURU badge. Yes, you know who you are. This means that every quiz was completed with a score of 100% (including the final). Well done! The question I have for everyone else – why didn’t you also do this? As we all know, you can take any quiz as many times as you want before the deadline. Excellence is definitely something to strive for.

Regarding the challenges – I see we have some students who are actively participating in our student chapter of Web Professionals and our local Adobe User Group. I commend those who have stepped up to the challenge and strive to learn more outside of class and network. I can’t stress the importance of doing more than is expected. You will soon be applying for a job or starting a career as a freelancer. In either route, you need to differentiate yourself from many others. The majority applying for a postition will have received straight “A’s” in their classes. How do you stand out? Being a part of an active user group is one approach. Being an officer of that group is even more impressive.

Let’s not forget there is another opportunity coming soon – we hold a state wide web design contest every April in Springfield. I encourage you to sign up (the deadline to apply is the first week of January). Yes, it requires you devote a couple of days and travel to Springfield. Yes, it costs a little money. However, this is a great opportunity to showcase what you know. Think of being able to include on your resume that you placed 3rd in a statewide web design contest. If you win first place, you have the opportunity to go on to the national web design contest in Louisville, KY this June. This is another great opportunity. And for those who win first in the nation, you have the chance to possibly compete in the WorldSkills web design contest (this event happens every 2 years). Yes, I am involved in all three events (and will be in Springfield, Louisville, and Brazil) in 2015. Those who know me that I try very hard to always do more than is expected. You should too.

Continue to take responsibility for your education and your career – I can’t stress this enough. The courses you are taking in the CMWEB curriculum are college courses. It is expected you will actively review the syllabus and class schedule and will submit your work on time (and submit quality work). IF something is missed or not up to standards, you need to take responsibility and accept the consequences. I mention this because in today’s business environment, failure to meet a deadline may well get you fired. We are trying to reinforce the appropriate behaviors in our program. We want you to succeed, but you have to take the steps yourself. How do you learn more than being in class – refer to my comments above about the local Web Professionals student chapter and the state wide web design contest. I can’t force you to take those steps, but I can tell you I have been told by a large number of former students that they wished they had taken advantage of those opportunities when they were students. This will be my last year running the state web design contest. I have been doing this for 15 years and am passing the reins to a former student and professional colleague (who also won the state web design contest). For those who are curious, I am transitioning more to the national and international web design contests (they do require a lot of work).

Network with your peers – this is becoming more important each semester. It is important to know people in the industry (local people). Often, these are the ones who know of jobs before they are posted (and may think of you before even posting the job). The best way to do this is to get your name out there. Participate in the student chapter of Web Professionals. Our next meeting in Jan. 13 at 6 p.m. in TC 309. This is your invitation. A number of former students and practicing professionals are part of every meeting. This is a great opportunity to meet others who may well be able to help you land a job. In a similar vein, expand your horizons with the web design contest. If you are still trying to decide – send me an email. This is a great opportunity to network with others throughout the state. Again, you may learn of jobs before they are ever posted online. This is the true vallue of building your own network.

It has been a pleasure working with you this semester. I wish you all the best for the coming holidays and I hope 2015 is all you want it to be. Keep in mind that what happens in 2015 and beyond is up to you.

Best always,
Mark

 

One thought on “Fall 2014 Semester Reflections”

  1. These are all good ideals that I agree with, being a former student myself.

    I would also add being able to push yourself to learn outside of the classroom is essential to making it in web development, since having the drive for outside learning is a core piece to having a long term need at an organization. Web technology moves faster than almost any profession out there. It will be expected that when you come up short with a certain understanding of a technology whether you are applying for a job that requires it or are already working for a job that wants to integrate it, you will need to go back to school that teaches the technology or learn at home the new technology the company has considered using. This piece of info is something I wish I realized sooner in life than later.

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