Posted December 2, 2019
I was a Computational Media undergrad at Georgia Tech, so I came in with a good number of AP credits and was on track to graduate early. I still felt like I had more to learn, so Tech’s five-year undergrad-grad program was a natural path. Moreover, Nassim Parvin, who would later become my advisor, was a professor for my undergraduate class, and she recommended the program.
If I could give advice to prospective or incoming students, I’d suggest that, when you begin your projects or your thesis, consider how you’d scope it smaller. Then, make it even smaller. I don’t mean underachieve, but a good small-scope project is better than an overly ambitious mediocre project. This piece of advice has been useful for me since I gravitate towards all-encompassing ideas. Realistic scope is important—not just for school but for the “real world” as well. Find that thing you can focus on and get it done well.
My next piece of advice comes from Professor Yanni Loukissas: at each stage of a project, try to have a working prototype. Rather than create separate pieces with the masterplan of combining them at the end, start with a rough-but-good-enough prototype, and refine it stage-by-stage. Not only is this tactical for school deadlines, but it also lets you iterate and reflect throughout the process.
Finally, I’d advise students to treasure the people around you and the experiences open to you. Learning happens beyond classrooms. Yes, deadlines will be there, but if time allows, give yourself permission to go to a cultural event or bowling with friends. Enroll in classes across departments. You’re among curious minds crossing vastly diverse interests. Just like you, most people are open to casual, interesting conversations, and these interactions just might expand your horizons.
Overall, I’m grateful for the possibilities and perspectives the people in Digital Media have opened up for me. I wouldn’t be here without them.
Michelle Partogi graduated with her Master’s of Science in Digital Media in 2016 and currently works as a Service Designer at Mayo Clinic.