Ben Fisher, a 1997 New Media Institute graduate, worked for several years at Turner Broadcasting as Lead Software and Systems Engineer for the Member Services/Ecommerce department. “I split my time between working with our development team in building/support of our member services platform (login/registration/user profile, etc) and working with our clients – the various Turner online properties (CartoonNetwork.com, CNN.com, etc) – to ensure they got what they needed out of the software,” he says.
His primary job was to function as a liaison between the development team and the member services platform. For example, “A user might register a user account on CNN.com to access some new piece of functionality it provided. Our team was responsible for the first part of that – getting the user into the system.” Ben’s most valued skill from the NMI was his introduction to coding in Dr. Shamp’s class, which focused on Macromedia Director, a Flash-like software used to create multimedia applications. “I started toying around with Macromedia Director, which introduced me to logic and writing code, and eventually led me to a career in software,” he says. He adds that a more general skill he picked up from the NMI is the ability to see projects as a larger entity, rather than a series of individual tasks. He credits this outlook for making him a more well-rounded employee who could communicate between the many departments involved in an enterprise software project.
When it comes to emerging technologies to be aware of, Ben suggests keeping an eye on user authentication technology – like Web sites that allow you to sign-in via your Facebook/Twitter accounts or OpenID. While, he says, “it’s probably not the most exciting part of the social media spectrum,” he believes this development, which makes registration a much less painful process, is an important concept to understand and will become an integral part of the social Web.
His Capstone project was “Gradio”, an online “radio” app for Grady College of Journalism. In his words, “Basically, it was an app built with Macromedia Director that allowed you to stream pre-recorded audio content – interviews, commentary, etc. We got to design the front end, build the application, record the content. The whole package. Pretty exciting stuff back in 97! The main lesson I learned was the importance of collaboration – how a successful project requires contribution from multiple diverse skills/personalities. Being able to work together efficiently and effectively within these different groups is integral to success. And taking these communication skills into the workforce greatly helps with your professional future. I also learned that I’m nerdy and very much enjoy working with code!”
Ben suggests making the most of the UGA and NMI experience by using the available resources to pursue one’s passions. He recommends taking the skills taught in NMI courses and applying them not just to class projects, but also to outside passion projects. “There’s a ton of cool stuff to learn with new media, technology, etc, and there’s no better way to learn it than to get your hands dirty with it,” he says. This kind of hands-on practice is what will set students apart in the job market. “It’s this kind of experience that makes all these things you’ve learned evolve into something more like common sense – where you can speak to them naturally. If you can head into the workforce with this kind of experience, even a little bit, you’ll have a great head start. Plus, you might be able to make a couple extra bucks with them!”
Connect with Ben on LinkedIn.