6 Trade Secrets for Navigating the IMC Program


For some reason my red Lululemon leggings make me feel invincible – like a sort of super girl. I’m not really sure why… but they exude some air of confidence, an unexplainable energy.

Me and my red lulu super-woman pants!

Me and my red lulu super-woman pants!

Since starting graduate school, I’ve moved. I’ve bought a house. I’ve worked a full time job with long hours… for which, I’ve also traveled often. I’ve tried to maintain some semblance of my weekend warrior routine, squeezing in Crossfit or yoga wherever possible and playing hockey one night a week and on the weekends.

Lesson Learned: Time is a hot commodity.

How do you balance everything and still remember to breath? Here are a few of my “trade secrets” for successfully surviving IMC:

Perspective Dictates Performance: It’s simple, we each have the opportunity to choose our own outlook and outcome and what we work through now will ultimately lead to something bigger and better and brighter. Self-construction is positive, be it in the classroom, or the office or in a gym. Believe in yourself. Trust. Act. Work through one day at a time with a smile and a can-do attitude and you’ll shine.

Plan for the Unexpected: Some might call me crazy, but at the top of each semester, I print hard copies of the readings and put them into a three ring binder. I also copy and paste all of the discussion questions and paper topics into an organized folder of nicely labeled word documents on a thumb drive. Having everything saved allows me to work on assignments even when I’m traveling, disconnected, or have even just five minutes to jot down ideas. Blackboard goes down? No problem. Spotty WiFi on the train? I’m still good to go!

“Success” is about what you learn, and how far you’ve come: The journey shouldn’t always be easy, I believe that Jimmy Dugan or Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own says it best:

It’s easy to get frustrated or upset at criticism or a “tough” class, but that quote is one to remember. Sometimes working through the most difficult problems is what offers us the greatest reward. I have personally experienced that in IMC! I like to view my classmates and professors as a sort of brain trust. It’s amazing how much we can learn from one another. Never underestimate the power of discussion posts, readings and feedback. Take it in stride and then reference them down the road for school or work or life. Each of us will get out of this program what we put into it as well as what we take away from it. Which brings me to my next point…

Save Everything! This may seem like a no-brainer, but when I say everything, I mean everything! Do this from day one! And… if you use a thumb drive like I do, back it up somewhere. It’s a sad day when that baby goes missing or gets grumpy and refuses to open. Over the course of the program, I’ve found huge value in saving my own discussion posts, but also those of some of my classmates. The discussion board is rich with topic ideas, relevant industry links, cool new companies, fresh perspectives and campaign fodder.

Opt for Brands you Love: Back to those red pants… yes, I love my lulu! While the option isn’t always available, when you can… pick a brand that you love or admire or want to learn about. For me it has made semesters fly. And as an added bonus, you never know what you might be able to use a paper, plan or even insight for later in life.

Tightly Budget Time: Many of us IMC students are cut from the same cloth. Working within the media industry makes us effective jugglers! We balance numerous tasks or clients or agendas or to-do lists. We wear different hats ranging from marketer to writer to researcher to community leader. We each have our own recipe for organization be that old school post-it notes or a brightly color coded Google calendar.

Budgeting time as effectively as possible has been the number one way for me to work, live and go to Grad school… all at the same time.

It must be the pants!

It must be the pants!

Although I’ll never underestimate the power of the pants!

Cheers to the beginning of another semester! Look forward to gleaning advice from fellow classmates on their methods for success!


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3 Responses to “6 Trade Secrets for Navigating the IMC Program”

  1. Jerome Brown Says:

    Love the tips Sarah. The importance of saving everything and planning ahead is so critical. There were a number of evenings when I had to rely on my backup copies when the internet (or Blackboard) went down. Like you, I would save everything (but as PDFs) on a thumb drive (my disaster backup when all else has failed) and in DropBox where I could sync my files across all my computers and devices.

    I have copies of every assignment, every discussion post, and every response made during the program. If nothing else, it is very interesting to look back on to see just how much work we have completed! I totaled up my word count recently for all assignments, DQ postings, and responses…283,763 words written but who’s counting ;-).

    I think you are missing one item however…a cape to go along with those awesome pants!

    • sarahes2014 Says:

      Thanks Jerome! I love the idea of doing PDF’s of the readings. I might try that this semester. And, wow, that is a whole lot of writing! Thankfully each of us will get a “cape” at the end of the program. I can’t wait to wear it proudly!

  2. rolsavsky286 Says:

    Sarah, Great post! I love learning more about my favorite brands, but I’ve also come to appreciate brands that I didn’t give as much attention to.

    One of those that stands out is UPS. Until doing research for Cause Marketing, I had no idea the brand created the UPS Foundation and put as much effort as it does into what it calls “the logistics of caring.”

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