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Digital Media Innovation Survey of Graduates 2016-2021

Executive Summary

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The Digital Media Innovation (DMI) program launched in August 2016 in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Texas State University, with the goal of immersing students in the breadth of digital knowledge to prepare them for new and emerging media roles. It is a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)-designated program with CIP Code 09.0702 (Digital Communication and Media/Multimedia), a federal designation defined by the Department of Homeland Security. The emphasis of the major includes strategy and problem-solving skills that will serve graduates throughout their digital media careers, through coursework in web development, social media and analytics, product management, design, innovation and related electives in emerging media areas. 

The program has grown quickly since its inception, with current enrollment of 300 students. Part of the degree’s mission is to provide technology skills in a communication context to groups underserved in other technology-based programs. The program now includes 52.7% females and 36.7% Hispanic students. In 5 ½ years through December 2021, 290 students (54% female, 34% Hispanic/Latinx) have graduated with the DMI degree (enrollment and graduate data via Texas State Institutional Research ). 

During Spring 2022, a survey was developed and distributed to DMI alumni to assess demographic and employment trends. This report represents the first detailed analysis of DMI graduates. 

Report Highlights:

  • The DMI Survey of Graduates received 54 responses, representing 18.6% of total DMI graduates.
  • 56% of survey respondents indicated gaining employment within 6 months of graduation. Only 6% of respondents indicated not having secured full-time, professional employment.
  • 38% of respondents reported working in the Marketing/Advertising/PR industry; 34% in the Technology industry.
  • Position titles for DMI graduates represent a broad range. Digital Marketing positions represent 31% of respondents, 29% in Web Management and 24% in Web Development roles. Organizations in which DMI alumni now work in digital roles include technology companies Microsoft and Dell, media conglomerate Gannett, ecommerce platform BigCommerce, real estate AI startup OJO Labs, media startup, web hosting company GoDaddy, marketing agency Blackhawk Digital, Austin Woman Magazine, retailer Petco and more. 
  • Respondent descriptions of responsibilities have an overwhelming emphasis on web and website functions. But more so, descriptions indicate that many are involved across the digital realm, including web design and management, social media, data analysis and content creation.
  • Analyzing the positions and companies from an additional 40 DMI graduates from LinkedIn profiles and combining with DMI Survey responses, we identified the most common words in job titles of DMI graduates are “specialist” (20.9%), “marketing” (19.8%) and “manager” (18.7%). Eleven percent of graduates in this analysis have the phrase “social media” in their title. Another 11% have “web” in their title.
  • 71% of respondents indicated a starting annual salary in the range of $26k-$50k. For current annual salaries, 47% now make in excess of $50k, indicating starting salaries at the top of the $26k-$50k range and quick income growth for many. 
  • On a scale of 1-5, respondents rated the value of the DMI degree to their current career at 4.5 and the value of the DMI Portfolio to their job search at 4.1, indicating strong value perceived in both concepts learned and deliverables of the program. 
  • Curriculum recommendations from respondents included enhancing social media topics to include search engine optimization (SEO), email marketing and a deeper dive into analytics, adding additional coding topics of JavaScript libraries (i.e. React, Vue.js or Angular) and user-experience design, more emphasis on spreadsheet skills and a desire to learn more about activities associated with professionalism, including effective interviewing techniques, securing internships, meeting etiquette and salary negotiation. 
  • General comments reflect broad satisfaction in the foundations of the DMI degree. Overall, DMI graduates have performed well in a challenging job market, gaining entry into a range of careers that capitalize on the perspectives and skills gained in the program.