Professional work in a student’s portfolio and industry internships are not a requirement to graduate from the Troy University Art and Design Department, but the experiences they offer are unparalleled.
“As a faculty, we are constantly bringing in clients to our classroom to give our students the opportunity to work on real-world projects and potentially land internships or entry level jobs,” said Associate Professor of Design and Art and Design Internship Coordinator Chris Stagl. “This can be seen across campus, in the local community, regionally, and now even under the bright lights of Hollywood.”
Stagl’s Hollywood comments are referring to four design students who began a year-long remote internship with Producer/Director Theo Love this past spring. Love’s Netflix and HBO credits include Alabama Snake, McMillions, The Pez Outlaw and Eat The Rich: The GameStop Saga.
“This whole experience with Theo has been awesome. We’ve worked alongside of him developing ideas, stories and plot points for future documentaries and features that he’s working on,” said graphic design student Nathan Hobbs.
“I honestly had no idea what I was getting into,” added interdisciplinary studies student Zack Pappanastos, “I was just around Nathan and Howard when this all came together and I said to myself, ‘I need to find a way to be a part of this.’ So I just started showing up as much as I could and now I’m helping build shows that are being pitched to the biggest studios on the planet, it’s insane.”
The opportunities at the national and international level for creative jobs and internships have expanded exponentially in the last few years due in large part to the speed that internet-based technology has been moving, particularly software like Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Adobe Creative Cloud.
“Just across our campus I can point to Troy Athletics, Marketing, Sorrell, Civic Engagement and the Idea Bank as all places that either leverage our student’s creativity on a regular basis or that we’ve done creative projects for,” said Greg Skaggs, Art and Design Department Chair. “It’s truly amazing to see design student murals at the Idea Bank and then turn around and see some of those same students have work on the walls at the Idea Bank. I’m very proud to be in this role where I can watch students’ creativity expand exponentially.”
While students can earn credit, they are not always satisfied with doing one internship or just doing their requirements—they’re repeating internships to get as much experience as possible before entering the workforce.
“We have students like David Saner, Reanna Thompson, Jared Hester and more who have all done multiple internships and taken on large amounts of client work to really bolster their portfolio, and I have no doubt it will pay dividends when they go looking for full time jobs,” Stagl said.
Thompson, a double major in design and business, hopes to leverage all her experiences she’s had at TROY to join the highly competitive Bass Pro Shop internship program next summer in Missouri.
“I have worked for Troy Athletics as a creative designer for over a year now and I love my job and my boss, Chloe,” she said. “I’m also in band with David and Jared and I work on all of the film productions, too. It’s really cool to make such great friends and have these experiences with everyone and know we’re all working through these creative projects together.”
Creative internships in the community are equally as important to design work being done on campus. Over the summer, design student Emily Cousins interned at Stamp Ideas, the largest Advertising Agency in the region, Laura Phelps at Brainy Pixel, an animation studio in Georgia, and Jared Hester for Northpark Church in Trussville. Each student took on creative designer roles.
David Saner’s internship paid him $15 an hour to be a part of the creative services team for Brand Muscle, an online internship opportunity. “I couldn’t turn it down,” he said. “To be able to design professionally, get paid and earn credits was an amazing opportunity. Now I’m working for Troy Athletics, and it’s been a dream of mine to design sports creative for as long as I can remember.”
Chloe Schobert, Director of Creative Services for Troy Athletics, said one of her favorite parts of working at Troy Athletics is working with the design students.
“The interns that we have from the University always go above and beyond and always want to learn. They help create posters, graphics for social media and more,” she said. “They are a key part of the Athletic Department, and we are extremely thankful for their dedication.”
Last semester, Troy Athletics partnered with the Design Department to give students a unique opportunity to learn motion graphics and have their work displayed “in the real world.” Students were tasked with creating motion graphics to use in-game during volleyball matches.
“We were blown away by the talent and creativity displayed by the students in the final projects,” Schobert said. “Starting September 14, these designs were utilized on the videoboards and will continue to be used during all home volleyball matches. We are very excited to continue working with these excellent students at Troy University.”
These internships and experiences, in the local Troy community or regionally, are leading to students getting full time jobs in their fields.
Cole Patterson, a recent design graduate, said, “I signed my full-time job offer contract as a video editor with Copperwing in Montgomery before I had ever even graduated, and I attribute that to the skills I gained while interning and working on various client projects during my time at TROY.”
Blake Greene, a photography graduate, recently photographed a nationally-televised football game for San Diego State University.
“Taking photos for San Diego State is a dream come true, and I attribute my success to the help and guidance of Professor Will Jacks and Joey Meredith gave me back at TROY,” Greene said. “My classwork and internship have truly paid off. You certainly cannot rest on your successes in this industry, you have to get out and get at it every single day. Nothing is going to come easy, you have to be willing to get what you want. Networking and travelling have been a big part of that for me. Don’t be scared to leave your safe zones and go find the work that inspires you as a creative.”