Recruiting RISD Talent
Earlier this month Alexander Stewart MFA 15 DM was fired up about revealing his interactive projects to representatives from WET Design, a California-based company that recently completed an impressive fountain for the Olympic Park in Sochi. With his electronic portfolio in hand, the digital media artist presented a robotic eyeball that quietly records its interactions with humans and then wirelessly transmits the feed to a nearby monitor. The piece earned him an offer for a summer internship with WET on the spot.
Stewart’s meeting was just one of hundreds of interactions that occurred during RISD’s 2014 Design Portfolio Review, an intensive afternoon of networking hosted by the RISD Career Center. Held downtown in the Rhode Island Convention Center, the lively event connected more than 600 juniors, seniors and graduate students with representatives from approximately 140 top-tier companies including Google, Harmonix, Kohler, Levi Strauss & Co., Patagonia, Square, The Daily Beast and West Elm. These professionals offer students feedback on their portfolios, along with welcomed advice on how to advance their career aspirations. Representatives are invited to return the following day to touch base with students they’re interested in hiring as interns or for full-time jobs.
“The portfolio review is a chance for RISD students to test the waters of the professional world,” explains Susan Andersen, the Career Center’s associate director of employee relations. “It allows them to gain insight from experts – about their portfolio presentation and the caliber of their work. And it allows design professionals, in turn, to recruit exceptional students. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.”
Wearing a neon orange dress, Genevieve Marsh BArch 15 also met with designers from WET. The Architecture major presented painted maps and renderings proposing enclosed chambers and tunnels in the concrete structures lining the entranceway to the Providence Harbor. She imagines visitors meditating in these spaces while listening to the sounds of the water rushing against the structures.
Jesse Im, a visualization designer with WET, expressed a lot of excitement when examining Marsh’s stunning work. “We’re not looking for someone who’s only a phenomenal illustrator or industrial designer,” he explained. “We’re looking for an artist who can think outside the box to help create incredible sensory experiences. Lucky for us, lots of students here fit that profile.”
Seated at a neighboring table, Lehu Zhang 15 GD met with project managers from Google’s Creative Lab 5. The undergraduate from Shanghai shared a hardcover book showing his sophisticated graphic design work and user interface projects. Richard The, the Google rep, was most impressed with Pixilate It, a coding program Zhang created to allow users to really see the pixels in computer images.
And Joohyun Rhee 15 GD was equally pleased to meet with recruiters from Helmut Lang, a chic apparel company based in New York City. Rolling up the sleeves of her black blazer, she presented web animations designed during an internship at Talbots, explaining that she hopes to eventually design websites for corporate retailers. After carefully flipping through her portfolio, the recruiters advised her to meet with their colleagues at Uniqlo.
“I’m so impressed with the level of thoughtfulness and ability I see in RISD students,” notes Meghan Halpin, a director of talent acquisition at Helmut Lang. “I find that their completely unique artistic vision paired with an exceptional attention to detail is what really sets these designers apart.”
– Abigail Crocker