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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.

circuitous pathway textile design

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.”

Jake Reeves 15 IL, Titmouse

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. 

rendering by Brad Lei
Renderings by grad student Brad Lei MArch 22, who is pursuing a job in UX or product design.

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.”

Susan Andersen, RISD Careers

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.

underwater illustration by Jared Hall
Night, Part 2 by Jared Hall 22 IL.

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.”

underwater illustration by Gina Kang
Space Creature (2021, Photoshop) by senior Gina Kang 22 IL.

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... .”

Jared Hall 22 IL

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.” 

brilliant green illustration of foliage

orange fish illustration
More work by graduating senior Jared Hall 22 IL, who will pursue a master's in Experimental Animation at Cal Arts in the fall.

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.”

mohair wool weaving
Textiles major Alexis Harris 23 TX showed samples like this mohair weaving and was advised to share her ideas about how and where they might be applied.

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.”

Jason Beene 01 IL, Proletariat

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.”

Simone Solondz

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