It now encompasses everything from web development to 3D, video and computer games.

Can you imagine your PC without a sound card, CDROM, graphics card or internet connection? About 15 years ago, all computers were like that... until multimedia came along.

Multimedia is a relatively new subject area that has grown up very quickly over the last 10 years around the availability of low-cost PCs and faster internet connections.

Walk around any company today and you can clearly see how important multimedia is to them. Almost everyone relies on internet-connected multimedia computers to carry out their work. Where is the first place we look for the best deals on anything from CDs to holidays? The internet. And what about your spare time? Every time you use ebay, Google Earth, iTunes or play a computer game, you're using multimedia.

There are many types of multimedia courses for students who want to specialise in different areas. Well-qualified students from almost any academic background can study multimedia - provided they have no aversion to computers or visual design! You can demonstrate this in your admissions interview and application form by talking about what you've studied, what you've enjoyed about it, and thinking about how you've used multimedia to achieve your goals. How did you research that essay you got an A for? Was it online? Talk about these things to show you have an awareness of multimedia and how it fits into your life and the lives of others.

Maybe you've designed a website for yourself or a fansite for your favourite band. Maybe you're involved in the computer game modding scene or have worked for a local multimedia company on work experience. All these things will help convince admissions tutors to accept your application, so make sure you have examples of your interests and experience - it's what sets you apart from all those other students studying the same courses as you.

Multimedia is at the heart of every successful company, whether it's designing and visualising new products or using the internet or CD/DVDs to communicate with its customers. Opportunities are everywhere, from your local newspaper and your local council, to every household blue-chip company that you can name. Typical graduate salaries depend on the size of the company, where they are located and how much experience you have. Typically, though, they are in the range £15,000 to £25,000, with the most successful graduates doubling this in five to 10 years.

All university courses encourage innovative thinking and also develop business and team-working skills, and many graduates therefore choose start their own company.

There is high demand for good graduates in this area, and there is also high demand for sandwich placement students, often with good jobs remaining vacant. Placement salaries are also good, but a year's experience on your CV is what really counts.

Broad range of activities

Tony Eckersley, 22, has just completed a sandwich placement with MediaStudio(.com) in Washington DC as part of his BA in interactive multimedia.

"MediaStudio are a small and close-knit team based in America. They specialise in a full-service portfolio for their clients' media needs. In other words, their work ranges from brand development through CD/DVD authoring, website development, print, display and packaging solutions. It's a client-oriented studio with a friendly and upbeat atmosphere.

My placement has provided me with a broad range of daily activities, roles and responsibilities. Starting with my major role as a designer/developer and moving through client presentations, client management, client training, and on into company planning, forecasting and costing. I am delighted and growing in confidence. I am also being rewarded for my 'boundless enthusiasm'!"

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