GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY   |    SCHOOL OF ART   |   GRAPHIC DESIGN

Pro Design Practices: AVT 413

Three Credits   |   Not Repeatable

PREREQUISITES
AVT 313 and 414 or permission of instructor. 

COURSE DESCRIPTION
Addresses the nature of the professional graphic designer in terms of career development and self-marketing, visual presentations of design work, preparation of written materials and interview techniques. Special emphasis will be given to the development of a design business, as well as freelance and pro-bono design work.

OBJECTIVES

  • Develop an objective “sense-of-self” in preparation for a professional career

  • Design or revise design projects for student’s portfolio

  • Refine writing skills for resume and cover letters

  • Develop social media marketing skills as a method of self-promotion and building an influencer network

  • Develop advanced presentation skills, as well as client and workplace relationships

  • Learn basic business principles for design business start-up and freelance work

  • Connect with the professional community: AIGA, AMA, Refresh DC, etc.

  • Establish a web presence

JIM VAN MEER
I'm the guy behind the great ideas. And a professor too.

SYLLABUS 

ASSIGNMENT 1
​DISCOVERY: WHERE YOU SEE YOU – 1-5-10
Typewritten paper describing who the student believes they are in relation to your their career path, along with descriptive paragraphs of where they see themselves in their career stages one year from now, five years from now, and ten years from now.

ASSIGNMENT 2
NETWORKING: NICE TO MEET YOU
Typewritten paper describing a networking event the student attends, where they meet graphic design and/or other industry professionals. Students are allowed to attend a trade show, a job fair, or a networking event where all types of businesses the student may be interested in working with or for are participating in. Students attain the best results when they attend an event that is specific to their career goals.


ASSIGNMENT 3
SOCIAL: DIGITAL CONNECTIONS
​Development of a professional social media presence, including a LinkedIn profile. Students establish a social media presence and post articles, their work, share their thoughts, and build their community over the course of the semester. Students learn the power of social media marketing and of networking digitally to establish and propel their career goals.

ASSIGNMENT 4
INTERVIEW: I'D BE A GOOD FIT
Students arrange a mock job interview with a design professional, studio, or agency to hone their interviewing skills while bolstering their networking abilities. Students must present their portfolio during the interview and are encouraged to seek feedback on their work. A typewritten paper describing various aspects of the interview is submitted at the end of the assignment period.

ASSIGNMENT 5
WEB PRESENCE: YOU, DIGITALLY
Because design and creative employers rely on portfolio sites for pre-assessing candidates, this exercise is built to showcase the student's work and talents through an online website. Students do not need to code their own website and are allowed to build a site from web template providers such as Wix, Squarespace, GoDaddy, WordPress, etc. Students are encouraged to obtain a personal/professional website domain name from an ICANN-accredited registrar.

PROJECT 1
​REDESIGN: YOU CAN DO BETTER
A designer's portfolio is their design life, and whether physical or digital, there is most likely a project in it that the designer thinks could be done better. In this exercise, students select a piece from their current portfolio and redesign it, bringing it from a weak example to a showcase item, showing their progress as a designer.

PROJECT 2
​RÉSUMÉ: YOU, THE BRAND
​This project is to build the student's personal brand through the most important document in their career, their résumé. Because recruiters only spend seconds reviewing a résumé, this exercise helps the student write and design a résumé geared toward getting the hiring manager to stop, look, and explore. Special emphasis is placed on grammar, spelling, aesthetic appeal, consistent formatting, and the power of persuasion.

PROJECT 3
​STATIONERY: BRAND EXTENSION
This exercise is an extension of Project 2, wherein the student develops their own personal business suite: letterhead, résumé, envelope, and business card. Students are required to carry their brand through the entire assignment, and to further craft their résumé for maximum impact. High-quality print-outs (mounted) of the stationery suite is turned in, with all elements discussed in a class critique.

PROJECT 4
LEAVE BEHIND: REMEMBER ME

Project 4 works on the premise that the student has secured an interview and wants to leave a self-promotional piece behind. As a way stand out from the crowd, students are encouraged to leave behind something that reminds the interviewer of them. Something that makes them think, “We could use this kind of creativity around here.” It’s a unique assignment with a unique opportunity to create something that further brands the student and sums up their distinctive style and imagination. 

​PROJECT 5
​PRESENTATION: SHOW OFF
At some point in a designer's career they need to do a presentation. It may be their work to an employer's client, or it may be a presentation of their portfolio to a freelance client. The final presentation for AVT 413 is to gear the student for a professional presentation that captures the imagination and holds attention. Students must develop and deliver a five-minute live presentation on a pre-determined subject, and are judged on their attire, visuals, professionalism, organization, confidence, and clarity of delivery.