In November, a group of Ferris State University Graphic Design students gained a firsthand look at the graphic design industry, courtesy of a trip to Chicago. Accompanied by six Graphic Design faculty members, the students visited Ferris design alumni, toured design studios and attended the SEEK Design Conference at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill.
“This trip gave me an essential glimpse into where I could take my career,” said Lynn Overmyer, a senior in Graphic Design, and president of AIGA Ferris State University Student Group. “It was inspiring to speak with industry professionals and to hear exactly what they look for in recent graduates.”
Overmyer organized the trip with fellow students Katie Bell, Craig Cockerill, John Vestevich and the RSO’s advisor, Alison Popp, an assistant professor in Ferris’ College of Business. The students met up for a dialogue session with graduates of Ferris’ program who are now living and working in Chicago. “The worry on many of our minds is how to dive into the industry after graduation. Nobody knows where we are coming from better than students who have already made that leap. Talking with the alumni helped me understand the variety of graphic design jobs that are out there and eased my fears about needing to fit into a cookie-cutter description of the ‘perfect designer,’” Overmyer said.
One of the trip’s highlights was the SEEK Design Conference. Students attended lectures from some of the top designers in the nation, including Debbie Millman and Sean Adams, president and vice president of AIGA National, respectively. “By the end of the day, our minds were exploding with new ideas and inspiration. Not a single student left that conference without their perception of the industry radically expanded,” Overmyer said.
Students emerged from the conference with the confidence that their Ferris Graphic Design education has them on the right track.
“The lecture by Robert Zolna, of Gravity Tank in Chicago, helped me understand how to improve my design process in a way that will directly affect the projects I’m working on now,” Overmyer said. “It was so awesome to see how the training we have in our classes is applied in the industry.”
“I often find that I need to be able to picture myself succeeding in order to actually get there. In the past, I was able to picture myself in this program, and in the leadership positions that I have taken on as a senior. Now, I am finally seeing myself being able to thrive as a designer,” Overmyer said about what she learned as she toured the design studios.
The AIGA Ferris State University Student Group travels to Chicago every other year to experience design in new ways. This year’s trip was supported by the Graphic Design department through the attendance of many design faculty members and the financial support of David Nicol, dean of the College of Business. The trip also was funded in part through the Student Activities fund.
AIGA Ferris State University Student Group is a registered student organization that is affiliated with the AIGA West Michigan Chapter. The group meets throughout the year to connect students with professionals in the industry, and share knowledge between classmates.