During the last week of October, fifteen students from Dakota State University attended the AIGA conference held in Sioux Falls. The South Dakota chapter of AIGA is the professional association for design, which serves the graphic design fields through South Dakota, by offering a variety of programs and events held throughout the year. One of these events was their student day held on October 27th; fifteen DSU students attended this event. The event field trip to Sioux Falls, was organized and promoted on campus by Professors Linn Nelson and Deb Tech.
In order to find out how this event was beneficial to their studies and future career planning, I spoke with three of the students who attended this event: Emily Robinson, Megan Pifer, and Kaitlyn Rau.
Emily described her day at the conference highlighting the major aspects of the conference, detailing the various activities that students were asked to participate in that day. After being rushed through the registration line at 9 o’clock, the students were given fifteen minutes to meet with various design professionals, between these meetings the students were given opportunities to meet with professionals who reviewed their resumes. After the morning activities, the students attended a lunch where representatives gave a keynote address from an Omaha design firm named Oxide Design. Following lunch, the students were invited to attend several breakout sessions, and then took a tour of the advertising company of their choice.
When asked about what she thought of all of the activities that when on at the conference, Emily stated that it was overwhelming, and that she never thought she could accomplish so much in so little time. When asked what she learned most from the conference, she stated that the focus on practical applications of the skills learned in schools was what really stood out to her. She said, “While there is something to be said about knowing the process, it is just as much if not more important to know how to apply it. It’s about the vision, the inspiration, the connections we make to tie a project together and to develop that golden concept that can be executed using the tools taught in the classroom. Doing the bear minimum is not enough to get you anywhere unless you are really, really, really lucky because there are 50 other people out there, competing for the same job, going above and beyond what is done in the classroom.”
While Emily focused on the events of the day and the importance of practical applications of classroom knowledge, Megan Pifer told me about the inspiration she found at this conference for life after college. Megan told me that after listening to the excellent speakers that were brought in that day, she learned about the variety of career opportunities she could go into after graduating. Specifically, she said that the conference helped informed her about the various careers such as freelance design, working for a design agency, or working for an in-house design agency. That is how through speakers at this conference students like Megan became greatly informed about the various career opportunities in design.
Kaitlyn Rau, on the other hand, found the one-on-one sessions with the different design professionals to be the most beneficial aspect of the conference. Specifically, she enjoyed the opportunity to meet with professionals and have them review her résumé. By having a professional critically analyze it before she would actually hand it out, Kaitlyn was give the opportunity to build a stronger résumé. Furthermore, this opportunity to meet individually with these professionally gave her the opportunity to network with professionals that she may be working with in the future.
Although each of these students found a different aspect of the conference beneficial to their futures, they all found the conference an incredibly valuable experience. Members of the student club Unlimited Possibilities are actively involved in AIGA and will be attending future events as well. Furthermore, they also encourage students to attend this conference in the future and learn about various career opportunities in the field of graphic design.