This story is featured in the Fall 2018 edition of the HPU Magazine. Discover below how HPU’s School of Art and Design prepares students for the real world through experiential learning opportunities.
Imagine being mentored by professors with professional backgrounds and experiencing what it’s like to work in a field long before graduation. Imagine holding internships at top companies and completing class projects that build a portfolio t to impress potential employers.
This is a reality for students in High Point University’s School of Art and Design.
Students like Abbey Phalen and Paul Green, both of whom gained plenty of real-world knowledge at HPU, which helped them land top internships and commence prestigious careers. Today, Phalen leads a career with Walt Disney World, and Green, who previously interned with Major League Baseball (MLB), works for the Nashville Predators hockey team as their graphic design assistant.
Both know that HPU prepared them to not only have vast technical knowledge, but also an array of experiences that will help them as they build their careers.
Excelling in Experiential Education
Leaving home in Massachusetts to attend HPU was a big step for Phalen, who graduated with honors and a degree in graphic design. But she knew HPU would open up new opportunities for her.
Opportunities like studying abroad her junior year, which allowed her to see the world, gain new cultural experiences and build confidence in herself.
She knows now that mentors like Allan Beaver, HPU’s Graphic Designer in Residence, and Scott Raynor, associate professor of art and chair of graphic design, gave her the roadmap to success through their wisdom and the time they spent encouraging her.
During her junior year, Phalen interned with the Boston Bruins hockey team and designed merchandise for the franchise.
Her senior year, Phalen applied to an internship with Walt Disney World and started working with Disney’s internal communications department inside the Magic Kingdom. She was then hired full time to manage the communications between cast members and to create branding for products and events.
Within a year of beginning her career at Disney, Phalen was promoted to the resort operations assistant for Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, writing and designing graphics that facilitate internal communications for the cast members working at the lodge.
The experiential learning opportunities Phalen took advantage of within the School of Art and Design taught her how to manage her time and how to lead a group of peers, which are life skills she now uses in her career.
“The university prepares you for the real world and not just the classroom environment,” says Phalen. “I felt comfortable working with clients because HPU professors take the time to make sure that you’re not just doing an assignment, you’re doing something that can be applied in a real-world situation.”
A Portfolio of Success
Inside the HPU Community Center, students sat two to a table with their portfolios, business cards and posters on tripods displaying their skills.
Professors, working professionals and community members filled the room, carefully stopping to see their portfolios and to ask questions about their work.
To further their repertoire of experiences, seniors majoring in graphic design have the opportunity to create a portfolio, then display it to professionals at this annual event.
After completing two graphic design internships with MLB, Green took advantage of the chance to articulate his work and answer questions that potential employers ask during professional interviews.
“My professors told us what the expectations are of recent graduates in the graphic design eld,” says Green, from Parker, Colorado. “This experience has given us the opportunity to practice talking to professionals and has given us a way to market ourselves to potential employers with our portfolios.”
His time at MLB, as well as building a portfolio and networking skills at HPU, paid off when he landed a career with the Nashville Predators.
It was all made possible by HPU. That’s where he discovered his love of designing for sports teams. Now he applies those skills in his career by creating designs that enhance the spectator’s experience.
According to Dr. John Turpin, dean of the School of Art and Design, providing students with first-hand learning opportunities gives them a competitive advantage in today’s rapidly changing career landscape.
“HPU’s School of Art and Design provides life skills to students through experiential learning, access to inspirational professionals, creative assignments that focus on personal growth and service learning projects that teach students to care for the community,” says Turpin.
That’s why Phalen, Green and so many other graduates have found success.
“HPU builds an environment in which I was never nervous to fail,” Green says. “I was surrounded by so many people who had an impeccable drive to achieve their individual goals and who also encouraged others to do the same.”