On an overcast Friday afternoon, in the middle of Keene State College’s Spring Weekend, a group of college seniors eagerly looked toward the start of their bright futures.
The Graphic Design Portfolio Review helped these senior graphic design majors showcase their work in a professional environment for the first time. Employers from the Monadnock Region along with local residents, classmates, professors and faculty joined the 40 or so students in the student center enter for a night of networking.
Although the event may seem like it only took a few hours for the seniors to set up, they spent four years refining their skills in order to put together their final portfolio. In particular, the students’ efforts were focused in one class this semester specifically to prepare them for this night.
“The class was really intensive. We had less than a semester to get 12 projects done so that was really tough. But it was really rewarding in the end once it was all over. It was literally the best feeling ever,” KSC senior Brette Guilmette said.
Guilmette added, “I think having to get all that together and having a strict deadline like that helped us put into perspective how we are going to deal with it in the real world. Interacting with people who could be potential employers also helped us get ready for dealing with that kind of situation.”
The 12 pieces of work that students had to assemble into one portfolio ranged from websites to CD cases to a “self promo,” which included business cards, resumes, work samples and everything you would send to a perspective employer.
One KSC senior graphic design major, Jessica Collin, said that the portfolio class was certainly exhausting but worth it in the end.
“It gave us the opportunity to see everything finalized. And see all this hard work that we have put in, especially this past year, finally pay off. We got that real world experience too with all the employers that came in.”
Collin added, “It was pretty hectic and stressful. But I feel like there was a great support system with our professors and our peers. It was honestly just a lot of fun to put our portfolios together. I think that overall it was a really positive experience.”
KSC senior Michael Manfred agreed that the class was exhausting but worthwhile.
“The whole year, I made a lot of sacrifices that I hadn’t made over the last few years. I missed out on two-dollar pitchers, beat the clock and karaoke Wednesdays but in the end I think it really paid off, just because the quality of my work is so much better,” Manfred said.
Manfred’s portfolio included a vast variety of work from his time at Keene State College, including two websites that he designed and a documentary that he filmed while on a service trip to Haiti along with a look book for his clothing company, Relic.
Manfred said, “The clothing company was started in my GDIII class last semester. That’s where the foundation was built. This semester, during the portfolio class, I really got to refine my stuff.”
With the experience they gained at the portfolio review, the three seniors agree that they feel a little more at ease about the future.
Collin said, “The review was definitely worthwhile. I met some people and got my name out there.”
On top of getting her name out there, Collin also said that it was good to networking opportunity for her and her fellow classmates.
Collin added, “The best part for me was working with my fellow classmates. I think that I now know a lot of people through my major and there was a lot of networking involved. And not just with people I go to school with, but also all the people they know or people our professors have introduced us to.”
After an extensive semester of preparing for this one night, Guilmette said one of her favorite parts of the evening was seeing her classmates’ finalized product.
“To see all the work we have all done over the last four years was pretty exciting. And to see it all come together like that was great. It was also a huge weight lifted off our shoulders,” Guilmette said.
Manfred agreed, “You could really tell who put the work in throughout the semester. Being able to display your work like that really gives you confidence when you receive positive feedback from members of the community and your peers.”
Michelle Berthiaume can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org