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Second-year Students Demonstrate Skills in Portfolio Projects

Second-year Students Demonstrate Skills in Portfolio Projects

NORFOLK, Neb. – Evidence of the knowledge and skills that Northeast Community College students acquired in graphic design was apparent in their portfolio show this spring.

The annual portfolio show provides students with an opportunity to display their work, as well as practice presenting their portfolios.

Phil Schimonitz, Northeast graphic design instructor, was familiar with a portfolio show when he arrived as an adjunct instructor from Akron about 15 years ago.

“It gives them some public exposure and we can use it as a job recruiting tool. Sometimes it also gives an opportunity for the family to see what they have been up to the past two years,” Schimonitz said.

The students complete close to 40 graphic design projects during their two years at Northeast. Some have additional projects with Michael Lynch, Northeast art instructor. It is not uncommon for students to work on several projects at once, which teaches them how it will be when they are working in the industry.

While most four-year institutions require portfolio shows, many two-year institutions do not. “I think it is important for our students to know how to present, especially to a stranger,” Schimonitz said. “It gets their feet wet.”

Schimonitz said he coordinates with Lynch on some of the classes so that the students can see both the fine arts side of a process, and the graphic design of a process.

Eight students took part in this year’s portfolio show on April 27. The students are prepared so they can transfer to a four-year institution, begin work as a freelancer or work for a firm.

One of the most important things they learn is how to compartmentalize their time, especially as a freelancer.

“To be a good freelancer, you have to be out there selling,” Schimonitz said. “You can’t get a project done and think, ‘OK, I will work on the next one.’ You have to be finding the next one while you are working on the one that you are working on.”

Calie Booth of Columbus, who majored in graphic design, was among those who presented at the portfolio in Union 73. Booth the said she enjoyed putting together the brand aspects most, including putting together logos, brochures and package design. 

Once a person starts designing a project, it can be fun to see what looks good together, how the placement and exploration of color and tabs then impact the design, she said.

Booth had an internship with Ideal HTML in Norfolk and is working there now after graduation. During her internship, she started out making brochures and Facebook ads. She will be attending home shows, helping to get word out about the company and all the services it offers, including creating websites.

Booth said she enjoys visiting with customers and then creating what they have in mind. It helps to ask a lot of questions and learn what the customer wants.

Avery Saltzman of Milford said she came to Northeast after visiting campus.

“To be honest, Northeast wasn’t at the top of my list. But then after I visited the campus and everyone was super friendly, it drew me to this place,” Saltzman said.

Saltzman, who graduated in May with an associate of applied science in graphic design, plans to work in the Lincoln area, which is close to her hometown. She had an internship at the Hawk Shop and values the classroom instruction she received.

“We were always able to ask questions,” she said. “It was OK to make mistakes at the beginning. There was a lot of trial and error and a lot of learning.”
Schimonitz said he is proud of his students and everything they learn. 

“I think the most wonderful compliment I got for the program was when I was told, ‘One-third of your students are exactly where they are supposed to be. If we put them in a four-year school, they are exactly where they are supposed to be – right on the dot. They are sophomores. We will take everyone that you send us.’ Then the person said, ‘One-third of your students are embarrassing.’ I asked, ‘Why do you say that?’ He said, ‘Because one-third of your students are as good as our graduating seniors. And I have no idea how you get them trained that fast.’” 

The final third are students who have completed the classes but didn’t necessarily excel. And even students like that often perform well on the job, as everyone has different motivators and challenges that they are dealing with at varying times, Schimonitz said.

Graphic Design, Booth
Calie Booth of Columbus, who received an associate of applied science degree in graphic design, shows the personal design she created for her work. Booth said she decided to use CR (with the R from her middle name) instead of CB to make it more personal. (Northeast Community College)