Creative Matchmaking

Creative Matchmaking

Moving from table to table almost as if they were at a speed-dating event, students met with potential employers at the Career Center’s annual Internship Connect. | photo by Jason Arnone

“It’s Shazam, but for birds,” says Stacy Chiou 17 ID in presenting Chirp, a prototype app that pops with gorgeous primary colors and playful animations of Providence’s avian ecosystem. As the Industrial Design junior demonstrates her app to representatives from the healthcare solutions firm athenahealth, she shows how it matches birds to a local environment based on a user’s location, something she hopes will encourage children to be more attuned to their surroundings and their relationship to the environment.

Chiou’s own sense of place extends to her interest in the healthcare profession, which she explored with laser-like focus at the Career Center’s Internship Connect event on Wednesday, September 30. In light of institutional and technological shakeups in health care, she believes that designers have a positive role to play in improving the way patients access and manage their care.

Chiou’s understanding of the larger role artists and designers can and should play is emblematic of the hundreds of students who attended the Career Center’s networking event. Moving from table to table as if they were at a speed dating event, students met with more than 100 representatives from industry leaders such as Anthropologie, Apple,Capital One, Design Within Reach, IBM, IDEO, MassDiGI, Yelp and roughly 65 other employers offering internship opportunities this Wintersession and next summer. As afternoon turned to evening, the volume of activity picked up in the Rhode Island Convention Center hall as more students showed up with their digital portfolios and potential employers huddled with them over laptops to view and discuss their work.

Thinking beyond RISD
Internship Connect offers representatives from participating companies an opportunity to both view student work and talk with potential interns to gauge their level of interest, says the Career Center’s Associate Director Susan Andersen, who organizes the annual event. Many of the businesses and organizations that participate are owned and operated by alumni, or employ alums and ask them to return to RISD to recruit others, she says.

As a small group of students showed their digital innovations at the nearby Samsung Research America table, Dennis Krawec 18 ID was intent on gathering information from representatives from Ralph Lauren about what the global fashion brand seeks in an intern and prospective designer. Krawec, who also met with representatives from Apple,Facebook, Michael Kors and IDEO, sees Internship Connect as a prime opportunity to ask business luminaries about how his creative thinking can contribute to their work and culture. “I am seeing the next step after RISD appearing before my eyes,” says Krawec.

Likewise, Atulya Chaganty MID 17 recognizes that Internship Connect lets her peer behind the curtain of today’s most innovative companies and designers. As she presented her work – “small-scale, large-impact, responsible design” – to Ayun Bhandari, a rep from the medical device company Ximedica, the two discussed the value of multidisciplinary proficiency and the ability “to speak multiple languages.” Sitting next to Bhandari, Ximedica Director of Industrial Design Mark Guarraia 05 ID underscored how much the company values the interdisciplinary approach, along with the conceptual and critical thinking RISD students and graduates bring to the table.

Andersen points out that Internship Connect also helps in “connecting talented students to the business ecosystem within the state of Rhode Island.” Toward that end, local businesses and organizations such as Hasbro, WaterFire Providence, Greycork, IndieWhip, Social Enterprise Greenhouse (SEG) and others sent representatives to meet with students.

“We’re not just looking for a skillset, we’re looking for a mindset,” noted Cayla Mackey, university initiative director at SEG, echoing a sentiment shared by many other reps at the event. That, they say, is precisely where RISD students tend to shine.

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