A world of potential at DMACC Portfolio Day 2013

For graduating DMACC graphic design students, Thursday, April 18 could bring the big payoff they’ve been working towards for the last two years.
portfolioday1“I’ve seen students walk away from Portfolio Day with a job,” Michael Blair, professor of Graphic Design and coordinator for the DMACC Portfolio Day 2013, said.
The exhibition is a chance for students of Graphic Design, Graphic Technologies, and Web Development to show off their work to the public as well as those in the industry.
For second-year student, Shane O’Brien, it doesn’t have quite the same promise as he’ll be moving abroad shortly after graduation, but still see great importance in Portfolio Day.
“For me, more than anything, I want to use this as a catalyst to put together a really good portfolio,” O’Brien said.
But even beyond that, O’Brien admits it could lead to networking and finding possible connections abroad.
This year’s 41st annual Portfolio Day is being held at the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates in downtown Des Moines. The location has changed from year-to-year, with it ranging from the Botanical Center to the Hoyt Sherman Place to the Science Center and the last few years, the DMACC Ankeny campus.
Blair said that turnout had been lower with it being on campus, so with the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates just having opened to the public last year spring, they are hoping to draw around 300 visitors.
Preparing their portfolio is not simply collecting their work from the last two years. Blair said a lot of time and energy goes into preparation, starting the fall prior to Portfolio Day. At that point a portfolio review is held and the Graphic Design advisory committee critiques each student’s portfolio.
“They are judging [portfolios] based upon if you were trying to get a job. They are using real industry standards,” Blair said.
It’s not easy, as often times students are told to go back and redo much of it.
Having a portfolio is more than just examples of their work. Once they meet prospective employers, they need to have something physical to give to them. Blair has students create a professional business card, a resume, a leave behind, an invoice, and even thank-you cards to use post interview.
Even with all of the work being done to ready portfolios and their image, students are responsible for more than just than just their portfolios; they have also been working on promotion if Portfolio Day.
“We voted on student officers to be art director, production arts, photography…everything that needs to be done for Portfolio Day, the students do,” Blair said.
O’Brien is one of the students working on the exhibition’s Facebook ads and sees both positives and negatives about being responsible for Portfolio Day.
“I think it’s a good thing to do such a large project and work on a team, but we all have so much going on. We’re having to put together a portfolio,” O’Brien said. “Maybe it’s better for the first-year students.”
“I’m just keeping it real,” Blair said, chuckling.
In all seriousness, Blair sees the challenging workload as fair and exactly what will be expected of students when they enter the graphic design workforce.
“They will be overwhelmed. They will be working on multiple projects,” Blair said.
As harsh as it might seem, Blair simply states: “That’s what my job is: I design designers. When they walk out of this building in two years, they should be able to go out and get a job. That is my goal.”

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