If you are in the design field, a degree, experience and a portfolio are the three key elements to finding a job. However, there is a bit of a catch 22. If you are a student just starting out in the field, how do you get that experience and portfolio without having a job? They may have found the solution at the Rasmussen College Fort Myers campus in the form of a new club.
The new, first-of-its-kind club is called CoDeRe, short for Concept Design Reality. It is a student-led design firm that provides low-cost design services to businesses, entrepreneurs and individuals. More importantly, it gives design students vital, real-world experience before they graduate. Some of the services they provide include website design, 3D and Flash animation, corporate identity/logos and business cards.
From Concept to Reality
Jennifer Ayotte, Program Coordinator for the School of Technology and Design on the Fort Myers Campus, first came up with the idea for CoDeRe in early 2011. She was charged with the task of forming a club for design students at various stages in their education. She wanted to create a group that utilized their skills and provided students the most benefit once they graduated. As a designer herself, Ayotte knows the importance of a portfolio and hands-on experience. She quickly gained support from Rasmussen administrators and design students. CoDeRe started in June 2011 with Ayotte serving as Art Director. The firm currently has 15 student employees and elected-officers. New students are invited to join each term.
CoDeRe is a win-win for students and business owners alike who receive quality work at a fraction of retail costs. Ayotte worked with local marketing executives to determine a reasonable market rate for their work, but says fees are intentionally kept low to keep the emphasis on the experience, not the financial earnings. That is great news for business owners and entrepreneurs who are often looking for ways to shave costs in this economy, without compromising on the quality of work.
Ayotte says in addition to the obvious benefits, students have learned many skills that cannot be acquired in a classroom, particularly soft skills. “No matter how much they know, if they cannot communicate effectively with a client they will never succeed,” says Ayotte. In the process, she says it has also given them the confidence they need to enter the workforce. Each student is expected to do their fair share to keep the firm running. They are each responsible for bringing in new business and distributing business cards in the community. The firm generates business on Craigslist, through community events, and by good, old-fashioned word of mouth on campus, and has been quite successful.
Financial Gains for the Future
CoDeRe has earned more the $1,000 to date. Money earned is put into a fund and earmarked for the member who worked on the project. Members can use their funds to help continue or enhance their design work and education as long as the expense is approved by Ayotte. Some of the things students have chosen to reinvest their money on so far include new software, software updates, professional training and equipment.