Meet Katie Harmon, a Ball State alumna, and former telecommunications major. She is currently a self-employed video producer and owner of HawkDigital. In this blog, Katie shares everything from how Ball State has shaped her personal life to her career growth since graduation.
What kind of student were you at Ball State?
Work hard, play hard. It’s still my mantra today.
What professor stood out to you?
There were so many. Barry Umansky left quite an impression. While frightening at times, the content of the course was invaluable. If he taught continuing education law classes, I would absolutely and fearfully sign up. John Huffer’s photography courses were my favorite electives. So much that I ripped off the format of his classes when I got hired on as an adjunct faculty for photography at our local community college. But of course, Dr. Joe is still my first call to this day when I need a mentor. My life goal is to leave an impact on someone the way that Dr. Joe has impacted thousands of students.
Was there a certain class that had an impact on you?
My very first college class at BSU was in August 2009, at 10:00 a.m. on a Monday morning. It was TCOM 101 with Dr. Joe. How cool was it to start your day at 10 a.m., right?! He emailed me the second week asking me to set up a meeting with him, and that was the first of many chats in his office trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.
If you could talk to your freshman self, what advice would you give?
Honestly, there isn’t much I would do differently, because I had THE BEST college experience you could ask for. Although I would reassure myself that it’s okay to change your mind.
What was the moment you decided what you wanted to do with your career?
I took a class my sophomore year with Dr. Maria where alumni came in every week and spoke to us about their career paths and how they got there. Scott Swim visited this class and shared what it was like to be a sports freelancer who traveled the world working live productions. I thought that was the COOLEST THING EVER. And while I veered away from sports, I freelanced until I was able to make it into a full-time business. Growing up you heard about typical careers, “doctor, vet, teacher, nurse…” but I didn’t know that “video freelancer” was even an option until I met Scott.
What project has been most meaningful to your career?
One of my favorite videos I’ve ever created was in 2020 right before we shut down. I was hired to create a video and photo campaign for the local cancer center. Four testimonials on four different patients and their fights against terminal cancer. It was one of the most heartbreaking and rewarding pieces to put together. My favorite of the four was Jack who, sadly but expectedly, died later that year from prostate cancer. It came full circle when I started attending the church where Jack had been a member, and I learned that they shared this video at his funeral for hundreds of people to reflect on his life before they laid him to rest. Here is the video.
What has been the proudest moment in your career so far?
Making it full-time with my own business. I’m going on 7 years of success now. It’s also pretty rewarding to be able to give back to college students through my position as an adjunct faculty.
Can you share something that people don’t typically know about you?
I can play the drums. I love going to rodeos. My guilty pleasure is a cappuccino out of a machine from a gas station.
What was the best memory of Ball State University?
Some of my fondest memories are from my freshman year, living in LaFollette, making what are STILL some of my best friends. More specifically, I was selected to emcee Air Jam my sophomore year (so fun!) I got to work and manage social media for March Madness through Sports Link. I was selected by the TCOM department to intern at NAB in Vegas for Sony. Oh, and I met my husband 10 years ago at the library studying for finals. 😉
Were you involved in any student organizations at Ball State? If so, what do you do within these clubs/how did you get involved?
There are so many fun organizations at Ball State. I was a member of Pi Sigma Epsilon Business Fraternity, and I loved that it was an opportunity to mesh with other majors. I was also a member of Sports Link my sophomore and junior year. Very similarly related to that, I worked for Ball State Athletic Media Relations for 3.5 years. Between Sports Link and Athletic Media Relations, I was attending athletic events 2-4 times a week to film, broadcast, report, edit highlights, take photos… anything sports media related, I was there for it.
Did you have a favorite place on campus?
LaFollette holds a big piece of my heart… it was my first home away from home, and I met my best friends who are now family there. I also loved when I had class in the Letterman Building. But as a video editor, I enjoyed any opportunity to sit in a room with windows.
What advice would you give to current students about life after graduation?
No one is too good to make coffee. Dr. Joe was a barista at one point. Part-time jobs are not a sign of failure. My part-time job teaching barre was an unexpected surprise that turned into a ton of face time with potential clients in my freelance business. My network would not exist if I hadn’t taught workouts to so many members of my community. Even after college, you have to plug yourself in.
Interested in a college experience like Katie Harmon’s? Check out The Department of Media for more information!
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