Capstone Survival Techniques from IMC Graduate Dain McQuarrie


Capstone might be a noun used to describe a point, element, or an event, but for IMC graduate students working diligently towards completing their M.S. in IMC, this word represents the end of a journey and the beginning of an exciting future marked by a professional designation.

With only five classes left in my academic journey and a free summer semester almost upon me, I have begun thinking about how I can prepare for my final IMC semester. Dain McQuarrie, an IMC graduate, provided me Capstone survival techniques.


Personal branding takes time to define and craft your personal mantra. With my final semester looming, I should use my time wisely to define my personal brand before branding my final Capstone project with an unresolved identity.

If you are not a designer, begin to find one who is both passionate and able to deliver strong executions that will elevate and complement your final body of work.

For Designers, brushing up on Adobe InDesign shortcuts and basic layout design principles will expedite the design process.

Attention to detail is vital when it comes to choosing the physical portfolio that will encase and bind all of your hard work. An understanding of what exists out in the marketplace is crucial because of the cost and time factors involved. Many stylistic options exist, but the execution and time involved in the binding process can make or break the final execution.

Take it from someone who graduated from design school and used a steel 13×19 grommet portfolio that was held together by extenders. You do not want to end up with a body of work that will not close because your page count ran away with you, or that you did not account for the binding margin in the design. What might seem like minor choices made in the final days/ hours of a semester may define your body of work as unprofessional.

Additional Consideration:
Binding Types


Leveraging project management tools requires a distinct understanding of the breadth of the platform. For a structured procrastinator like myself, I am always in need of tools that will help to keep me on track. Evernote is a tool mentioned by IMC graduate Jose Huitron that helped him compile all of his Capstone research.

Flipboard is a tool that I leverage that allows me to create and archive all industry articles related to Integrated Marketing into one magazine. In addition, I use Pinterest and Google Alerts as tools to archive branding and integrated marketing images and links.

During the course of your time in the program, it is only to your advantage to create your own personal digital library filled with articles that you could leverage later.

The final project during your Capstone semester will require you to look back on all the lessons you have been taught during the IMC program. If you have taken the time to print lessons and the suggested supplemental readings, begin to locate and dust off those resources. If you have not been saving content from classes, correct that behavior now by printing and archiving any and all content. One late night you will be happy that you have your highlighted notes by your side when preparing an all inclusive media plan!

Additional Consideration:
Citation Manager

One of the benefits of a final capstone project is that former students reveal their best practices. A big thank you goes out to Dain for providing his valuable insight! If you have any other tips and suggestions, please share below!

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4 Responses to “Capstone Survival Techniques from IMC Graduate Dain McQuarrie”

  1. megsimmons Says:

    Great suggestions! I found it crucial that I had archived my discussion posts from previous courses. Topics and tactics arose in the capstone course that I was able to refer back to postings to emphasize and provide references to a strategy.

  2. Lisa Oriss Sands Says:

    Two days to the mid-term is due and I am feeling pretty good. Graduate Barry Fuchs had shared that you must jump right in the first week, and he was right. If you stay on top of it, and maybe a tiny bit ahead, it is better in the long run. Working with a designer who “gets you” is a good thing to aim for as well. Familarity makes things much easier when you are moving at this pace! I wish I had learned about Evernote earlier, though I did have a pretty good archive in my bookmarked favorites to draw upon for sources on various topics. It all comes rushing back!

  3. josehuitron Says:

    Thanks for the resources! These are definitely tools that will allow future grads to make their Capstone a smoother and much more rich experience.

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