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Student Profile: Daniel Lee

By: Jake Jackson

Photo Credit: Obi Mukhopadhyay

What is your name, year, and expected graduation? Are you a member of any clubs or organizations in or outside of UMBC?

Daniel Lee, 25 Fall 2024. I used to be an active member of the Smash club and the occasional KSA and JSA. I work at Starbucks, but I guess that’s not really being a part of an organization.

When you were finishing up high school and looking into colleges was MCS your first choice for studies? If so what drew you in to studying MCS and If not what was your original major and what made you switch over to MCS?

MCS was not my first choice. I saw that UMBC had a great comp sci program so I thought I’d go ahead and take advantage of that. But as I had to do projects, I realized that I didn’t have the patience to trial and error every single step or have to scrutinize every micro detail to see if that broke my entire code. So I thought I’d move to sociology since I was more interested in why people operate the way they do. But that also made me realize that I wanted to interact with groups of people instead of looking at society as a whole. I also wanted to be more hands-on instead of being more focused on research. After a while, I looked at MCS and found that there are some core classes that I found a lot of interest in. I might have switched yet again, but ever since the pandemic, I really saw the importance of social media and how it’s going to overtake traditional media. MCS, to me, is the perfect degree to study this phenomenon and even participate in it.

What is your desired career path post graduation and how have you felt the MCS program has prepared you for this line of work?

My first goal is to be a social media manager. After that, I’d have to see what parts of managing a company’s social media would take me. Because of the amount of skills you’d have to learn to fill in the gaps of a company’s weakness, I could either push for something more creative by becoming a more prolific video editor or I could focus more on becoming an event planner or something else I didn’t foresee.

I’d say MCS 355 was probably the most important part that prepared me for it because it introduced to me the process of proposing a social media campaign to a company that doesn’t have a strong social media presence. It also taught me how there’s so many little things to take note of when building your platform. 

Have you been able to do any MCS related work or internships while you have been a student at UMBC?

I’ve only been able to be a part of the MCS Campaign team or MCS 480. Since I also have to pay for my rent and bills, I’ve had to work alongside being a full-time student even before I had enough experience to start applying. 

What has been impactful thus far in your learning? Favorite class or a class that you felt taught you valuable skills?

I’d say MCS 377 (Making Visual Culture) with Professor Anchor. Learning the basics of a variety of Adobe programs gives me an idea of how to make a variety of content and what aspects I need to pay attention to. I’ve had vague ideas of what makes some content go viral so seeing the little details and getting some practice has been pretty helpful.

How has the MCS program shaped how you view and understand media?

Starting off with understanding communication at its rudimentary was probably what helped me shape my understanding of media. Learning the fundamentals will let you better understand how the landscape of media changes and what you should do to account for it. History is always boring, but MCS managed to leverage it in a way that made the theories that have been developed over time applicable to important moments. 

Have you felt that the MCS program has prepared you for a job in the ever changing landscape of social media?

I’d say so because the classes I’ve taken in the 300+ levels feel relevant to what we’re taking today. Things like learning how to use modern creative software like Adobe Photoshop and Audition or what an employer would potentially search for and how to set up your portfolio to best display your skills. Although, I’d attribute the preparation more to talking to the professors since they’ve talked about their experience with what it’s like looking for work and how that landscape has changed ever since they first started their search. Even if a topic may be loosely related to what they’ve experienced, they will always have something more to expand upon if you asked.

What is some advice you might have for incoming MCS Students or students who might be undecided but are considering MCS?

For incoming MCS students, my advice is to look at what creative software UMBC has. Find where you can experiment with Adobe Premiere Pro or Photoshop. That stuff isn’t cheap and you have access to it for free. Another piece of advice is to REALLY connect with your professors. I know it’s generic advice, but for MCS, it’s a communication based degree. If you graduate and you haven’t made any connections with people who’ve been in the field, you’re going to struggle a lot, not only professionally, but creatively as well. The MCS professors have years of their own experience separate from UMBC and are actively working on their own projects and collaborations along with being a professor. They, at the very least, have a lot of insight for something you would work on.

For those undecided, MCS will at least give you things to think about for things we do every day. Learning how communication is carried out, what gives a group of words such importance.

Posted: May 3, 2024, 2:47 PM