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Graduate Goes on to Google 5

05/31/2013

It’s the rare college senior who finds himself going to work for Google after graduation. Rarer still is landing a position at Creative Lab, the company’s New York City-based marketing arm. In fact, only five fresh creative talents are selected for the Lab’s Google 5 program each year – and this year Isaac Blankensmith 13 ID is one of them. 

Founded in 2009 by Creative Director Robert Wong, Google 5 recruits talented seniors from colleges throughout the country, creating a collaborative team made up of a writer, a technologist, a designer, a filmmaker and a “wild card.” Blankensmith is still waiting to find out whether he’ll play the designer or wild card role, but either way, he’ll be part of the Google 5 team this year. Wong characterizes the ideal candidates for the team as an amalgam of “ambition, humility, altruism, entrepreneurialism and sense of scale – big thinkers who feel like they can really impact a lot of people.”

Blankensmith doesn’t know about all that, but he does know that his persistence paid off and helped him win the coveted position. After meeting a Creative Lab recruiter at the Career Center’s fall 2011 Internship Connect event, he got the opportunity to intern there during the summer of 2012 – and had a great experience. “Since that internship, I have been emailing them all year,” he says. And although he interviewed with at least a dozen different companies this year, when the Google 5 opportunity opened up, he jumped on it. 

As the son of two RISD alumni – Martin Blank 84 GL and Marilyn Smith 82 PT – Blankensmith had heard more than enough about the place before he was old enough to apply. Growing up in Seattle, he had always enjoyed making things – blowing glass with his father and building hovercrafts or computers – but imagined he’d go on to study engineering after high school. 

“When I finally visited RISD and got to see the ID department, I realized that it was exactly what I had been looking for,” Blankensmith recalls. “It was one of those awesome moments.” He scrambled to put together a respectable portfolio and complete the required drawing challenges and then submitted only one college application – to RISD.

Once Blankensmith got accepted and had started his Foundation year, the awesome moments kept coming. For instance, he was totally taken with his Spatial Dynamics studio with Professor Mickey Ackerman MID 79, which further convinced him that majoring in Industrial Design made sense. “Those problem-solving projects were so much fun,” he says. 

Another pivotal course was the History of Industrial Design taught by Matt Bird 89 ID. “That class was incredible,” Blankensmith recalls. “Having an overview [of the field you’re in] makes such a huge difference. It changed everything and made me want to think more about my own work and what it means in terms of history and context.”  

Although he’s excited about moving to New York and starting at Google in July, Blankensmith has mixed feelings about leaving RISD. “I’ve been running around trying to finish up all these portfolio projects I’m working on before the shop closes,” he says. The good news, he concedes, is that plenty of other RISD grads are heading to New York now, too, so at least some of his best friends will live nearby.

Simone Solondz

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tags: Industrial Design, students

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Furniture Design students walk along the riverfront, carrying their projects to class.