Experience comes in many forms: Internships, full-time summer jobs, part-time jobs during the academic year, occasional freelance work, or producing work that can be sold in the outside worldart work, writing, or design, for example.
Its students forming entrepreneurial businesses on campus. Its prospective graduate students who earn their first academic publication as an undergraduate. Its learning how to organize, promote, or account for a special event by working as a volunteer with a non-profit agency.
Whether its paid or unpaid, experience is a great way to build a portfolio of work for a prospective employer to see.
Two students who have taken full advantage of the chance to build experience during their academic careers are Annie Cooper of Des Moines and Debbie Carolan of Fort Atkinson, both seniors in art with a graphic design concentration. Both work for the Iowa Memorial Union Graphics office, which promotes IMU and University events.
"We promote areas within the IMU by creating fliers, signs, advertisements, and brochures," Carolan says. "And we get work from campus groups outside the IMU, too," she adds, pointing to a large poster about Weeks of Welcome (WOW), sponsored by Orientation.
"We work with our clients, IMU marketing staff, and Printing Department to create this work," Cooper adds.
Both are beginning to look for jobs after graduation. Since theyve been working at IMU Graphics since January 1998, theyve had a chance to do professional work across the broad spectrum of graphic design and decide that they want to find jobs in graphic design firms rather than in advertising agencies.
For both, the IMU Graphics work is part-time during the school year and full-time in the summer. Carolan says they can register the summer experience as an internship, if they wish.
Bret Gothe, design supervisor at IMU Graphics, gives the students evaluations and feedback on their projects and acts as a sounding board for concepts and developing projects.
"This is a learning lab for them, really," he says. "They learn what they need to do and what they will be accountable for when they go out to work. They get a chance to build a portfolio of work and apply what they have learned in their courses to practical work.
"Its great for me to supervise them, too, because the new things they learn, I learn. Thats a great bonus."
Another bonus for Gothe is that Cooper, Carolan, and other student employees are creatively fresh, willing to take risks, and trusting, he says. "They are just wonderful to work with. Different students have different styles that can be matched to different client needs. They are complementarysome students like more crazy design, some are minimalist. They tend to work together, peer to peer, and thats the best learning there is."
Gothe says he tries to create a fun environment to support his graphic designers because they have a lot of rush work, constant deadlines, and pressure. "Our computers all wear hats," Gothe says. "Music is important, laughter is important. These students are becoming young adults; theyre students first, then graphic designers. We have to have fun or else well explode."