RISD Students Connect with Industry Professionals
RISD Students Connect with Industry Professionals
Juniors, seniors and grad students meet with representatives from 126 companies from across the globe at annual Design Portfolio Review.
Forest Pathway (2021), a Haas Brothers-inspired silkscreen print by junior Alexis Harris 23 TX.
“The quality of student work at RISD in terms of drawing, taste and fundamentals is on a level above what’s coming out of other schools,” says alum Jake Reeves 15 IL, an art director for award-winning animation company Titmouse. “Every student I met with had a fantastic portfolio presented in a well-designed website that they built themselves.”
“The quality of student work at RISD in terms of drawing, taste and fundamentals is on a level above what’s coming out of other schools.”
Reeves participated in RISD’s annual Design Portfolio Review for the first time in mid-March, Zooming in from his home in Los Angeles. The virtual, two-evening event drew representatives from 126 companies around the world, who met with 585 juniors, seniors and grad students.
RISD Careers Associate Director Susan Andersen is enthusiastic about the turnout and says that she and her team observed some interesting trends at this year’s event. “We’re finding that UX/UI jobs are prevalent in all markets including those that are not necessarily design driven like healthcare and insurance,” she notes. “In response to the pandemic, most companies are continuing to offer remote and hybrid work arrangements.”
“We’re finding that UX/UI jobs are prevalent in all markets including those that are not necessarily design driven like healthcare and insurance.”
Grad student Brad Lei MArch 22 attended the event with the hope of landing a full-time job after Commencement in UX or product design. “New York is my first choice for relocating, but I would go anywhere for the right job,” he says.
Lei notes that the feedback on his portfolio was really helpful and that several reviewers suggested that he add more work in progress to provide a window into his process. “They wanted to see sketches and notes about where the ideas came from,” he explains.
Undergrad students Jared Hall 22 IL and Gina Kang 22 IL heard similar advice. “I am looking for a full-time job or internship in the publishing industry,” says Kang. “The reviewers I met with suggested that I include rough interior book layouts in my portfolio.”
Kang attended an in-person Design Portfolio Review before COVID and then took a two-year leave of absence before returning to Providence to complete her studies. “All of the seniors are getting really nervous about our careers,” she says. “The Illustration department has been inviting RISD alums to tell their stories via Zoom about how they navigated their careers after graduation, and none of them are working in the areas they thought they would be pursuing, which was kind of liberating to hear. It feels like anything is possible.”
“I didn’t do Design Portfolio Review last year and wanted to have the experience of pitching my ideas to industry professionals... .”
Hall was recently accepted into the Experimental Animation program at Cal Arts, where he’ll pursue a master’s degree in the fall. “But I didn’t do Design Portfolio Review last year and wanted to have the experience of pitching my ideas to industry professionals and talking about my work,” he says. “It felt nice to be validated outside of RISD.”
Junior Alexis Harris 23 TX also participated for the first time and was looking for feedback on her weaving samples and her print designs. “I showed a lot of samples,” she says, “but the companies I met with recommended that I show how I intend for them to be used either in apparel or home goods. It’s hard to present textiles samples remotely,” she adds, “but [the virtual format] opens up opportunities across the globe.”
First-time reviewer Dieter Cartwright and his business partner are trying to fill open positions in their NYC interior design and branding firm Dutch East Design. “We’re looking for people who have a passion for design,” Cartwright says, “and those who demonstrate initiative and thoughtfulness. We saw a really high caliber of work at RISD and could tell immediately that the students have been exposed to a lot of different disciplines.”
“One thing that sets RISD apart is that it values the creative process and thinking about the why behind what people are making.”
Alum Jason Beene 01 IL of Boston-based gaming design company Proletariat has attended the event on numerous occasions since graduating 20 years ago and says that even when he doesn’t have jobs to fill, “it’s nice to stay connected and keep my eyes and mind open to new talent. One thing that sets RISD apart is that it values the creative process and thinking about the why behind what people are making,” he adds. “In an industry in which the how is ever changing through new tools, technology and software, it’s important to find people who can connect the dots.”
Hundreds of RISD students share their portfolios online with eager design firm reps from across the country.
Annual Fine Arts Portfolio Review provides students with fresh perspectives on their work and opportunities in the arts.
The Career Center presents its annual RISD Mindshare lecture series, providing current students with real-world guidance about life after college.