After three long years of switching back and forth between college majors, Andrea Vezeau finally realized there was a way to channel her creative passions into a career shaped by her hobbies.
Unsure of her academic path, but wholeheartedly decided on the music industry, Vezeau finally found a place for herself at the Creative Media Industries Institute of Georgia State University.
Students like Vezeau come to Georgia State from all around the nation, in hopes of starting an academic path that leads them to a career of their dreams. Approximately 5,000 of these students are currently majoring in programs that lead to professions in entertainment, information, interactive media, and the arts.
“So far I’ve learned so much about the music industry, and I would like to continue to learn and grow in this industry,” says Vezeau, a senior at the downtown Atlanta university. “Live music is a huge part of my life, and I want to do everything I can to integrate it into my career so that music and like-minded people can always surround me.”
As a public relations student minoring in entertainment media management, she hopes to progress into a career involved with music event coordination.
Georgia State prepares Vezeau and thousands of students like her for the rapidly evolving world of media at the Creative Media Industries Institute (CMII). The institute focuses on building connections within industries and providing hands on experience for media students.
“There are specific programs for film, creative writing, graphic design and music that have been in place for a long time and they are all succeeding,” says David Cheshier, director of the institute, “But a common problem across these programs is that collectively we weren’t doing a good enough job of connecting our students to careers and helping them understand the entrepreneurial possibilities for work in the arts and media.”
The main directives of the Creative Media Industries Institute are media entrepreneurship, workforce development, research, and interactive technology. By partnering with Georgia’s growing media industries and entertainment companies, the innovative program gives students real world industry understanding and portfolio experience.
“We aspire to be big and public and create a point of contact for professionals in Atlanta’s media or art industries that want to partner with students or faculty,” says Cheshier.
For students focused in other disciplines, such as Vezeau, the institute opens opportunities within their chosen field. Cheshier says the institute will partner with other programs at Georgia State, so that students may finish their initial program and then attend the institute for a one-year master’s degree.
This means that students get core training in their craft—public relations, for example—and then get the supplementary skills to be more competitive in the marketplace.
Temporarily housed on the second floor of a Georgia State administrative building—formerly known as the SunTrust Bank Building—it will soon relocate to a brand new media production center which is currently under construction in an adjacent wing of the same building.
Administrators anticipate that the new state-of-the-art media center will breathe life into the downtown area, completing an academic corridor surrounding Atlanta’s Woodruff Park. The creative ecosystem includes the university’s College of Business, School of Policy Studies, and the College of Arts and Sciences.
The Robert W. Woodruff Foundation sees so much promise in Georgia State’s creative culture, they have given the project a $22.8 million grant, the largest financial gift in the history of the university.
The staffing model for the Creative Media Industries Institute is also creatively inspired. Approximately half of the faculty will be “professors in practice.”
This new hiring category waves the traditional PhD required to employ professors. In its place, years of industry experience qualify a professional to teach.
The professor in practice oversees students as they gain hands-on experience working for local Atlanta media companies that partner with the institute.
The other half of the institute’s instructors come from traditional academic appointments. Cheshier handpicks faculty members from other disciplines to be a part of the program. For example, Steve Jones, who was once the coordinator of music management in Georgia State’s School of Music, now operates within the Creative Media Industries Institute.
As a longtime music industry executive, Jones understands that students must be appropriately qualified before entering media workforces.“In our world today, people in media industries want you to wear multiple hats,” says Jones. “We need to be educating students in multiple disciplines and providing more of an outreach to the community.”
Atlanta’s media industries are rapidly growing and integrating, and Georgia State understands the need to provide multifaceted opportunities that assimilate students into entrepreneurial collaboration.
“I wish to gain knowledge of the music and arts industry so that I can work behind the scenes putting on concerts and music festivals,” says Vezeau. “If not that, I would like to work in a PR firm that handles music, arts, food and fashion.”
The Creative Media Industries Institute gives thousands of Georgia State students like Andrea the ability to cultivate their passions, applying them to professional experiences that encourage creativity.
“It is my goal to make my hobbies my career,” says Vezeau, “and I enjoy every bit of my work.”