Part I: As the fall semester begins, we would like to commemorate the fifth anniversary of launching the Digital Media Innovation (DMI) undergraduate degree. On August 4, 2016, the program received final approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and launched into Fall 2016 with two students. Since then, the program has grown to an enrollment of more than 300, with several hundred students having graduated with the degree.
In this two-part series, we showcase the careers of a few DMI graduates. Students with this degree achieve a focus on strategy around digital products and emerging roles, and the alumni in this series exemplify the range of positions in which these approaches are sought after in a modern, digital world. They work in journalism, marketing, social media and technology startups, as digital producers, web developers, development analysts, digital consultants and more. As you will see, the degree has been successful in connecting females and students from diverse backgrounds to technology-oriented careers. Here are a few of their stories.
A Focus on Innovation and Real-World Experience
Danielle Molinar graduated with the DMI degree in 2018, selecting this major because of its focus on innovation and creativity.
“I chose DMI because this program allows students to do something that most other majors don’t, innovate,” Molinar said. “It’s not about quizzing students or having them memorize information to pass a test that will eventually be forgotten.”
In addition to her DMI studies, Molinar also received a minor in Computer Science. After graduation, she secured a position with consulting firm Accenture, where she is now Application Development Senior Analyst.
“I serve as the bridge between designers and engineers,” Molinar said. “I drive the communication of clear design decisions, specifications and requirements from flows, mockups, wireframes and prototypes.”
She works with engineers to implement designs and transform legacy systems for improved user experiences and trains others on best practices for design systems. “I oversee all final designs of our products and the relating front-end code, ensuring our products are always fully responsive, modern, scalable and user focused,” Molinar said.
This program fills the most underrated gap between communication, design and technology developmentDanielle Molinar, 2018 DMI Graduate
At Accenture, Molinar has experienced rapid career growth. “I moved up very quickly within my team thanks to the skill set learned in my time as a DMI major,” Molinar said. “I’ve been promoted three times in two and a half years and now serve as a user interface lead and subject matter expert for our digital product team for public sector clients.”
Molinar emphasizes the importance of working at the intersection of multiple competencies. “I didn’t realize how relevant and beneficial the DMI courses were until I got into the real world,” Molinar said. “This program fills the most underrated gap between communication, design and technology development.”
“I think teaching design thinking methodologies and different design processes is also hugely beneficial,” she continued.
Molinar advises students to take their DMI projects seriously and build a strong portfolio. “Really try to absorb and learn as much as you can,” she said. “I continue to use the portfolio I created during my undergrad as a DMI major and always keep it up-to-date.”
“To this day I still utilize the skills I learned during my time as a DMI major on a daily basis,” Molinar added.
Product Thinking for a Media Startup
Sonia Garcia is a 2020 DMI graduate. After graduation, she secured a position as Audience Development Producer for the Austin media startup Austonia.com, shortly after its launch. Only a few weeks later, the outlet found itself without a Managing Editor. Garcia was asked to temporarily fill the role, then was quickly offered the permanent position of Senior Producer/Managing Editor. In this role, she manages the news site, edits and assigns stories and oversees their social media accounts.
“I am always looking for new ways to tell Austin stories,” Garcia said.
Garcia emphasizes the value of gaining both strategic and practical skills introduced in the DMI program.
“This program advised me on product thinking for the newsroom and gave me the skills to bring more to the table,” she said. “Companies would rather hire one person with multiple skills.”
In addition to her DMI studies, Garcia was active in student media at The University Star, which helped prepare her for this professional leadership role. She advises students to prepare for the future with a broad and flexible base.
“Adopt as many skills as you can,” Garcia said. “You never know what your job will require.”
Prepared for Any Challenge at Gannett
Juan Garcia Jiménez graduated with the DMI degree in 2020. He chose the program because of its broad appeal.
“It was the perfect mixture of everything I was interested in,” Garcia Jiménez said. “It sounded like the most well-rounded program I could find.”
His first role as Full Stack Web Developer was with Wytec International, a 5G telecommunication company. After gaining experience for a year in that role, Garcia Jiménez moved to a Web Developer position at Gannett, the media conglomerate that owns news operations in 43 U.S. states and six countries, including the Austin American-Statesman. His responsibilities include a project consolidating Gannett’s online brand messaging, as well as creating a more friendly user experience. He also builds pages for the company’s intranet, analyzes site analytics and runs their Youtube channel.
Garcia Jiménez credits the DMI degree for providing a valuable range of exposure.
“Every time I get pulled into a new project, I am so thankful that I never go in with no knowledge of what I’m doing,” he said. “Overall, the best part about the DMI program is all the skills you develop simultaneously and prepare you so well for any job.”
Garcia Jiménez advises students to explore a range of courses and to begin making contacts with professionals.
“DMI offers so many awesome courses. Try to explore them and find your passion,” Garcia Jiménez said. “Reach out to people that have the job you want and seek advice. Most people are happy to help.”
In other words, he said, “Network, network, network!”
The best part about the DMI program is all the skills you develop simultaneously and prepare you so well for any jobJuan Garcia Jimenez, 2020 DMI Graduate
A Big Career with BigCommerce
Jacklyn Mann graduated with the DMI degree in 2018, quickly moving into a Marketing Automation Consultant position at enterprise software company Motiv in Austin. Within a year, she moved into a similar role as Marketing Automation Specialist for the Austin office of the Australian e-commerce company BigCommerce. In this role, Mann develops programs, campaigns, landing pages, emails and reporting.
“I work with HTML just about every day and do a lot of work on different software programs,” Mann said.
Mann was initially attracted to the DMI degree because of the topics introduced in the Fundamentals of Digital and Online Media (FDOM) core course that all SJMC students take.
“I took the FDOM class and knew I wanted to study something similar,” Mann said. “I did my research and found the new DMI program and knew I had to switch majors.”
Mann advises students to make the most of their time in the program.
“Absorb as much information as you can,” Mann said. “Really try your best on your projects, and don’t just try to pass with the minimum.”
“Be proud of your work, and put in 100 percent,” she added.
Visit the DMI page on our website for more information about the program. We’re proud of all our DMI graduates and are impressed by the multitude of career directions and emerging roles graduates of the program have undertaken in just five short years. In Part II of the series, we introduce several more successful DMI graduates.