MUSKEGON, Mich. – When students in the digital media design program at Baker College’s Muskegon campus study the business side of their profession, they can expect to get more than just classroom learning. A lot more.
Alesha Hutchings, of Greenville, said one specific course was pivotal in helping her learn what is necessary to conduct business as a professional graphic designer. The course also increased her self-confidence, provided a taste of the day-to-day activities of a designer and resulted in a logo for a community organization that Hutchings could include in her work portfolio.
The course is digital media business practices. It requires students to connect with not-for-profit organizations that can use the students’ skills pro bono. The student designers then work with their “client” to complete the desired project from contract to final product.
“As a career college, Baker College prepares students to be job-ready at graduation,” said Don Mangione, program director of digital media design at Baker College of Muskegon. “We continually explore opportunities that expose students to professional experiences, bridging the gap between academics and work they will encounter in their careers. In the field of digital media design, these experiences include classroom and freelance projects, networking options and the one-on-one real-life project assignment in the business practices course.”
It requires students to connect with not-for-profit organizations that can benefit from the students’ skills pro bono.
“For some students, this means they will be stepping out of their comfort zone,” he said. “However, the project demonstrates that their future positions will require more than great design capabilities. People skills and professionalism are a few of the attributes competent digital media designers need to possess.”
Hutchings was one of the students who felt out of her comfort zone.
“First, I had to research and cold call 15 organizations to find one that could use my help,” she recalled. “At the beginning, I was so nervous I stumbled over words. By the time I found a willing organization, I was a lot less anxious.”
The match with the Greenville Area Recreation & Community Center, Greenville, was a win-win. The organization had been recently formed by combining two City of Greenville departments and needed a new logo for the Community Center’s new website, http://gvcomrec.com.
Hutchings worked closely with Director Kris Berry to create the finished product — a simple but effective one-color logo that would also work well for embroidery. Hutchings followed a step-by-step process that included an agreed-upon contract, independent research and creation of several thumbnail sketch designs. Next she worked with Berry to perfect and narrow the design choices to three, which were then created as “roughs” on the computer. From these Berry and her staff chose one to be designed as the final product.
“Alesha came in with the confidence of a seasoned professional, so from our first meeting, I had faith in her,” said Berry. “She took it upon herself to research our community, and she used that information to present a well-thought-out design. She is going to be a very valuable asset to a future employer.”
Hutchings said the experience also taught her the value of close and effective interaction with clients.
“Working with Kris I learned that communication is essential to success,” Hutchings said. “We stayed in touch primarily through email during the entire project. Making communication a priority helped me avoid many things that can go wrong during the design and production processes, and that is a valuable lesson.”
The importance of mentoring:
As the client in the equation, Berry sees the experience as beneficial to both the students and the organizations for which they volunteer.
“Not only is it important for the students to seek opportunities to get involved in their communities, it is important for business professionals to make time to mentor our future professionals,” said Berry. “As a manager or business owner, you want to hire qualified and passionate employees; it is our responsibility to help mold them. We must create opportunities and empower students, even if it means taking a little extra time to guide them along the way.”
Hutchings will complete an associate degree in digital media design following a 120-hour internship in the fall at Xtreme Images in Greenville, a graphic design and digital printing business. She hopes to find a full-time position as a digital media designer.
Baker College offers an associate and a bachelor’s degree in digital media design. The program develops proficiency in print and digital graphic design and provides web development training. Graduates are prepared to create brand identities, websites, printed materials, video, animations and packaging, among other projects developed by professionals in the fields of marketing, advertising, public relations and publishing.
For more information about the Baker College digital media design program, contact Kathy Jacobson in the admissions office at email@example.com or 231.777.5200, or visit www.baker.edu.
The largest private college in Michigan, Baker College is a not-for-profit higher education institution accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Founded in 1911, Baker College grants doctoral, master’s, bachelor’s and associate degrees, as well as certificates in diverse academic fields including business, health sciences, engineering, information technology, education and human services. Baker College has on-ground campuses in Michigan and Pennsylvania, and offers online programs that can be completed 100 percent online without ever visiting a campus. In 2016, the Online Learning Consortium recognized Baker College Online with the OLC Quality Scorecard Exemplary Endorsement, the highest ranking for online higher education programs. For information, visit www.baker.edu or follow Baker College on Twitter, @bakercollege, or on Facebook, www.facebook.com/bakercollege.
– Baker College student Alesha Hutchings created two versions of a logo – black and white and color – for the Greenville Area Recreation & Community Center to learn about the business practices of a digital media designer.