Bridge: Student to Professional

BRIDGE: Student to Professional

It’s been nearly a year since I attended my very first Raleigh AIGA Community meeting. Within that year, things have drastically changed for me. I’ve gone from being an inquisitive student to a knowledgeable graphic designer and member of the Raleigh Board in less than 12 months!

AIGA is a great organization for any designer at any level to join—from college students just touching the edges of design, to your seasoned graphic designer. For me, AIGA has proven to be an excellent resource both design wise and professionally. I can remember attending my first AIGA meeting, being both extremely nervous and apprehensive. Aside from the 3 other students who came with me, I didn’t know any one else there. However, I was welcomed with open arms and made to not feel like a total stranger. One of the first people who introduced themselves to me was my future AIGA co-chair, Kristin Fowler, who at the time had recently graduated from college. We instantly connected and after briefly talking for a few minutes, discovered that we were both from the same hometown!

Coming to the monthly AIGA meetings proved to be worth the 1.5hr drive from Greenville. At each meeting, I tried to make sure I met someone new and exchange business cards with them. I also made an effort to come out to any chapter events that might have been going on.  All of this didn’t go without being noticed from the board members. I was starting to become a familiar face to the AIGA-Raleigh community and that would eventually work in my favor. One of the turning points came when I attended the 2012 Student Portfolio Review hosted by AIGA Raleigh. The portfolio review for a milestone for me having made a large number of contacts as well as landing a job interview and what would become my future employer!

Things got even better when I actually LANDED the job! However, all of this didn’t go without a lot of hard work and effort on my end. French West Vaughan was not the only job prospect I had at the time—I had actually been on about 2 or 3 other interviews at other agencies near and far. I set a goal and a plan up for myself. My goal was to have my website and portfolio in a good place by the beginning of my last semester of school and to begin job searching promptly within the last 4 months before graduation. All in all, I can say that I stuck to my plan and it worked. I received responses from numerous places and landed a few job interviews (as I previously stated). I had a job AND an internship waiting on me prior to graduation. I made the best decision for myself and chose the opportunity that I felt fit more in line with my plans and accepted the offer at my currently employer—French West Vaughan.

Needless to say, things have only been looking up for me from here. I have a full-time design job at one of the top agencies in North Carolina and I am officially a member of the AIGA Raleigh board as Director of Student Programming. Like I stated earlier, it was noticed early on that I was interested and eager to work within the chapter. A piece of advice that I would leave to any student looking to grow in the realm of design both professional and skill-wise would be to become an active member in your local AIGA chapter. Go to community members and make your presence be known! Something as simple as volunteering at an event or taking the initiative to talk to a complete stranger at a meeting can go a long way. There are so many benefits—things that you will see immediately and things that are imminent. Cross the bridge from student to professional.

If you have questions for Rich Griffis, or want to hear more about his story, contact him here!
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