Andrew M Parlato :

Having studied public relations and psychology in my undergraduate years, I thought that COM’s Emerging Media Studies program sounded like the perfect complement to my academic background and professional ambitions. I work in higher education philanthropy at my alma mater, Boston University, and utilize new media in my work every day through email marketing, social media ad campaigns, and partnering with vendors to create mobile-first experiences for our donation forms.

When I began as a part-time student in the fall of 2015, I had only a general idea of what I would learn over the next two years. I spent my first year working with members of my cohort on a research project for BU’s School of Public Health, launching a multi-tiered social media advertisement pilot campaign to elicit 500 survey responses from a niche online population. This population was highly specific and nearly impossible to reach through traditional survey methods, so we were approached to help find these potential study participants. We found great success in A/B testing multiple ad sets on Facebook and Twitter, using both cost per click (CPC) and cost per conversion optimizations. The research has lived on after my completion of EM 777, and our SPH faculty sponsor has since presented on the material at conferences and is working on publishing the material in conjunction with two of our EMS alumni who continued on to work on their PhDs.

In addition, I learned to write HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, having hand-coded my own website – something I never thought I would master! I led focus groups to evaluate usability and applicability in website design. I studied innovative disruption in the media industry, both in theory and practice, ranging from Encyclopedia Britannica to Netflix. Dr. James Cummings’ course allowed me the flexibility to direct my final project toward my professional interests and I was able to develop the concept for an alumni engagement and mobile fundraising app for higher education development professionals. As a part-time student, while working full time at BU, I have had the unique opportunity to see this program evolve. Its new “tracks” now offer prospective students greater flexibility in customizing this degree to their academic and professional goals. My favorite aspect of COM’s EMS program is its ability to evolve with the times and its flexibility in allowing its students to customize their experience based on personal interests. You can’t find that in every graduate program!

One of my proudest moments in this program was planning, organizing, and hosting our 2016 #Screentime conference. We had attendees and panelists travel in from Rhode Island, Texas, and China – in addition to many who simply hopped on the T to attend – and the conference material was all the richer because of this diversity of location and academic/industry focus. Our three panels each focused on a different area: one showcased our EMS research, another demonstrated a variety of academic pursuits at other institutions, and the third was a valuable industry panel for those interested in working in a related field upon graduation. We worked incredibly hard for several months to call for abstracts, secure panelists and keynote speakers, advertise the event, order signage and catering, and ensure that all 30 of our students shared the workload equally. My cohort was incredibly proud of the outcome and it was a wonderful way to end my first year (and our full-time students’ last week) of the program. Thank you for a wonderful two years, EMS!

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