Iowa State Memorial Union

Career Readiness & The Creative Arts

Posted on 05/13/2020 at 01:29 PM by Kenzie Hosch

How do you train students to be ready for a career in the creative arts?

Students in their undergraduate graphic design program at Iowa State learn to think big. 

Their instructors teach them how to: 

-think outside of the box

-how to imagine design solutions for the world’s biggest problems

-how to use the history of the craft in innovative ways

-how to  draw inspiration from the worlds’ “greats”

-how to look at what they’re doing in a critical lens

In this way, students are given an edge over many design students in their stage. Their education values creativity and innovation at its core. This poses an interesting challenge with the program in that students are taught to think creatively, but are not always equipped to do the nitty gritty, practical, client-focused work of graphic design. 

You see, in the program, aside from internships or specialized classes, the average student does not learn about the utilitarian, detail-oriented, or goal-specific challenges that face graphic designers in the industry every day. When you are assigned a project, your client is your teacher and your goal is to impress them. No real-world limitations like budget, time, or competition come into play with how the concepts you choose and the implementations you design are created. 

This is where the real work of internships comes into play. I know firsthand how often students are underprepared for the sometimes rough world of the industry. Now a lot of this is influenced by segments of graphic design, region, and other specialty skills.. But overall, design is not the glory work we often think of when in school. In the first few months in the industry, you learn quickly the little (but big) things that can make or break your job performance:

-how to inspect with a critical eye if the design/conceptualization is meeting the client’s goals

-how to look for the typos, the broken links, the misaligned images, the correct color spaces

-how to build files not only for your use, but your team’s 

-how to build image libraries for ease and efficiency

-how to explain your designs to prove ROI to your client

-how to work with tight budgets and deadlines

-how to work smarter AND harder

To do this, I try and be not only a model, but a resource, and challenger for systems and processes that they’ve learned (and maybe need unlearned). Their real-life experience with the clients at the Memorial Union will prove valuable as they’re learning crucial skills only learned “on the job.”

It’s my goal that when students leave my office for the last time at the end of the semester, they will master not only all the wonderful things from design school their instructors want them to learn, but that they will be hard workers, smart designers, and employable people ready to take on their first jobs.  

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