Andrew Ciofalo’s first concept of ieiMedia began when he was a professor at Loyola University in Baltimore, Maryland. He began leading summer programs for journalism students to travel abroad.
Seeing significant adoption, Andrew eventually moved his program off campus to run it as an independent business. Today, ieiMedia contracts experienced fellows to lead intimate professional training programs in a host of countries during the summer semester.
A Global Opportunity
Andrew says ieiMedia is a recognized brand amongst universities. “Every program is in conjunction with a university,” he says. “They vet our programs so students can get credit for them.”
Different programs emphasize different focuses but remain committed to advancing the broad communications field of study. They have had programs focused on magazine journalism and theatre. “We did hip hop meets the Renaissance in Florence last year,” says Andrew.
ieiMedia has nine programs, the most it’s ever had, scheduled for summer 2016 and is beginning to plan for its first spring semester program in Urbino, Italy. It hopes to launch the program in 2017.
On-Campus Marketing, Off-Campus Experience
ieiMedia relies on university professors to forward their promotional materials and program information to their students. “Every time we reach a student it’s through a recommendation from a professor.”
The experience ieiMedia offers students who sign up is unique. The programs cost $4,995. Sometimes, that cost is partially absorbed by the universities they partner with or by study abroad grants and scholarships.
The student to faculty ratio is about 4:1. “It’s like a guided experiential program,” says Andrew. “A student may come in and have never operated a video camera, let alone told a story with video. We can teach them both.”
Andrew says the real secret is to hire great directors for the programs. “These programs are effective based on how good the people are,” he says.
Of his evolution from professor to CEO, Andrew says it’s a tough transition. “When you work at a university, you have the whole support of the university behind you.”
Today, ieiMedia has low overhead but Andrew admits he could use a business partner to balance out the inner professor in him. “When you are an entrepreneur you are thinking very differently. This is the transition I still struggle with the most.”