Students learn the basics in the classroom but it is the real world experience that will challenge their knowledge and enhance their skills while adding to their confidence for a job well done. The Design Group within the Office of Student Involvement (OSI) offers creative-minded students the opportunity to build on their marketing, publication and/or Web skills and add those experiences to their resume or portfolio. This experience could be impressive to employers when the students graduate and seek a job.

The Design Group provides advertising, promotions, graphics and Web presence for Activity and Service Fee funded agencies. OSI agencies include: Campus Activities Board, UCF Homecoming, Knights of the Round Table, Late Knights, Multicultural Student Center, Knightcast and Volunteer UCF (VUCF). The agency’s student fills out work order forms for graphic print design requests or Web update, design or redesign. Each Design Group member will handle a work order and stays in communication with the client until he or she is satisfied and the deadline is met.

The UKnighted staff interviewed two Design Group members: Vanessa Flores, a junior who is majoring in art and specializing in graphic design; and Julian Palhof, a senior who is majoring in Digital Media Interactive Systems.

Palhof handles the agencies’ Web sites: editing content, creating or updating pages, adding images, flash animation, forms, embedding media, and Web databases. Palhof’s accomplishments include the redesigns of Knight-Thon’s 2009-10 Web site. Currently, he is working on redesigning VUCF and OSI Web sites which will be up for the fall semester. “I am better with the front end [content and appearance of the Web site]; Mike is better with the back end [functionality and maintenance of data],” says Palhof referring to the OSI site. “We help each other and give each other feedback.” Palhof says OSI Web site is his favorite project: “It has been the most challenging and creative project I have worked on.”

As a graphic artist, Flores has the opportunity to create printed designs such as handbills (flyers), posters, programs, newspaper ads, booklets, banners or T-shirts. The client will receive an electronic proof through e-mail and a printed copy will be posted on the Design Group proofing wall. There are six graphic designers who work individually but offer opinions or feedback when asked. Flores is currently working on a Panhellenic Recruitment e-book with a journal/scrapbook feel that will be available on the Panhellenic Web site. Only a few copies will be printed for new sororities during recruitment week in July. This is her favorite project as she has incorporated some of her personal drawings in the publication. ”I feel I put a little more of myself in it,” said Flores.

Where do these two creative students draw their inspiration from? Flores scans the Internet and magazines looking for current illustrations and designs. She looks to get a “certain feel” for the job. Palhof surfs the Internet to view top Web designs, structure and new trends, then, “I formulate my own ideas to what the client needs.”

“OSI has given me the opportunity to discover my creativity and strength as a Web designer, as well as strengthen my confidence in the work I have created as I progressed in my time working here,” says Palhof. “It was an amazing opportunity and experience working in OSI.” He plans to pursue employment outside of Florida after summer graduation.

“Working in the OSI Design Group has not only helped me develop my design skills, but also my communication skills with my clients and my peers,” says Flores. “Having these real-life client relationships will better prepare me for my future career.” She plans to stay in the Design Group, and hopes to minor in digital media. In addition, this fall Flores will be working as an intern at Channel 9’s graphic department.

Kerry Welch is director for the OSI and Chantel Carter, associate director for OSI, supervises  the Design Group. OSI is an office in the Division of Student Development and Enrollment Services.