Seniors Plan New Directions at Career Fair

April 21st, 2011 by CCAD News
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A portfolio review at Directions

There was ample evidence at Directions, CCAD’s annual career fair, to indicate that more than 160 soon-to-be graduates are eager and prepared to enter the workforce.

Armed with faculty-juried portfolios, polished résumés, branded business cards, ready smiles, positive attitudes and a few cases of nervousness, the seniors and some December graduates networked with nearly 200 employer representatives in the Canzani Center.

Small, large and international companies, including McGraw Hill, American Greetings, Abercrombie & Fitch, Interbrand, Columbus Idea Foundry, LimitedBrands, and LPK, attended the April 20 career fair, which opened with a preview hour for employers to privately review student portfolios.

Cynthia Gravino, director of Career Services, said several factors indicate that the job market looks good for creative individuals. Her office currently is receiving more full-time job descriptions than it has in the recent past and salary ranges, in some cases, are $10,000 to $15,000 higher.

Kristen Macauley was the sole Fine Arts senior participating in Directions. Her burgeoning love for design compelled her to register for the annual career fair.

“It’s exciting to see interest in my work. I expected to be ignored but it has been very rewarding to describe my work and jewelry designs.” Macauley is heading to New York City after graduation for a three-month paid position with The Jones Group. During the career fair the Idea Foundry approached her about conducting jewelry workshops in Columbus.

Justin Highlander, a senior in Interior Design who is an intern at Asset Strategies Group, LLC, confessed to being a bit nervous but said his goals for Directions include getting his name circulating among potential employers and creating an impression that helps retail design and commercial design firms to remember him.

“Directions is helping me understand what companies expect from an entry-level designer,” said Highlander, who is willing to relocate and is looking at opportunities in Seattle, Washington, D.C. and Atlanta. He said preparing for Directions taught him how to memorably brand himself, how to explain his work and to convey his personality. “I feel prepared for any interview in the future,” Highlander said.

Several CCAD alumni were among the employer representatives networking at Directions. Tom Studer (CCAD 1993-97), digital strategy director at LPK in Cincinnati, said he loves the diversity of projects at the event. “This is an opportunity to create interest in LPK. A job opportunity might be a year from now but it’s still important to make a memorable connection today,” he said.

Studer’s co-worker, Steve Bowling, a talent acquisition specialist at the global design agency, said he participates in Directions because he respects the talent. Bowling and Studer, who studied Fine Arts at CCAD, are especially interested in students who can cohesively story-tell across multimedia.

Interbrand’s representatives teamed up to review all the available portfolios. Jamey Wagner, creative director, and junior designers Katie Carter, Susan Burke (CCAD 2010) and Jen Rossignol (CCAD 2009), summed up their impressions by describing the students as eager, the vibe as good, and the work as strong. Both Burke and Rossignol studied Advertising & Graphic Design at CCAD.

Jennifer Chema, who describes herself as a research designer, talked to seven companies at Directions. Participating was a “no brainer,” she said. “I want to learn about people’s mindsets and to network. You learn more from interacting with people than from a website.”

One project featured in Chema’s portfolio, completed as a senior capstone project in CCAD’s Honors Program, included a redesigned federal income tax form. Jim Lutz (CCAD 1978), an instructor in Visual Communications who majored in Advertising  & Graphic Design, served as her project mentor as she researched the history of the form, its current design, gathered feedback and tested new designs.

The Advertising & Graphic Design senior said her future design work will involve “turning something negative into something positive.” Her portfolio reveals just such plans for nuclear power plants.

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One Response to “Seniors Plan New Directions at Career Fair”

  1. Sean Donahoe says:

    My son, James, will be attending the career fair next year. He’s already looking forward to it.