When I first moved to San Francisco, it became immediately clear to me that CCA was a magical place where San Francisco's most talented designers came from. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for school, so I was dying to get involved at CCA.
Transition to Professional Practice
CCA Graphic Design chair Rachel Berger asked me to teach "Transition to Professional Practice" (TPP for short). This is a special class, seriously one of a kind. The class prepares Seniors in Graphic Design for the "real world"—practicing presentation skills, covering topics like contracts 101 and job searching strategies, and developing their job search toolkit (portfolios, resume's, writing skills, etc). Transitioning out of school isn't easy, but I wanted to energize the students for the professional hustle (not an easy ask for an 8:00 am class).
The first thing I wanted my students to do was some soul searching. I wanted my students to get a job, but more importantly I wanted my students to get a job that they'll be happy at. Que Elle Luna, a friend and past-colleague of mine. She's been focusing over the past couple years on helping people find their must. She came in with some thought provoking ideas and exercises for the students. What do you see as your job? Your career? Your calling?
Something a lot of designers struggle with is personal identity. We spend a lot of time developing identities for other companies and entities but rarely spend time developing our own personal identities. What are our values, principles, and frameworks for working? I wanted my students to define these for themselves before their job search. This can help them align with companies and design teams that value similar things. Together as a class, we did a collaborative brainstorm to define our personal brand attributes.
Informed by these personal attributes, we designed our personal identity systems to be applied to their professional designer toolkits (portfolio websites, business cards, letterheads, etc.) Because a lot of these identities were type driven, I brought in Friend of Type Erik Marinovich to guest critique.
Quickly the student's personal identities started coming together, we even had a business card party to get the students comfortable with networking and handing out cards.
Field Trips & Visitors
An important aspect to this class was taking the students out of the classroom and into design offices to see "the day in the life of a designer," and bringing in practicing designers to share their stories. Being a student is a full-time job, so it doesn't leave much time to spend going out in the world to meet designers in the industry. But I wanted to show the students the value in making time to meet people in the industry, and help build their confidence talking to professionals.
So we took a field trip to IDEO, one of my favorite design offices ever. Communication Designers Islam & Marta walked us around the office and shared their process and projects with us. Needless to say I think all the students walked away dying to work there and were inspired by the office and projects.
Brent Couchman, who started his own design studio Moniker, came in to talk with the students about what he does, and how he got to where he is today. He walked the students through his process for designing identities, as well as his process for presenting his ideas and concepts to clients.
The class then organized an Alumni Professional Panel, where 5 lucky CCA Graphic Design Alumni's joined us in conversation. The students lead the conversation, asking juicy questions like: "What advice would you have for young designers?" "What's it like working for Stefan Sagmeister?" "How did you get your first job?"
We also had the chance to tour the swanky Airbnb Headquarters, where we got the insider scoop on the story and process of their recent rebrand.
The Four P's
Portfolios, presentation, process, and personality. These are huge parts of being a designer we spent a lot of time on developing. Presenting the student's portfolios to the class, editing portfolio pieces down, identifying passion points / key projects, and practicing presentation skills / talking about our work.
Photographer Helena Price came in to teach the students camera skills, and lighting techniques for shooting portfolio pieces.
The Final Show
At the end of the class, we got the chance to show off all our hard work in a final show to the school, design community, friends, and family. Congrats to the students for their hard work, I'm proud of each and every one of you.
Peep the student's portfolio links at the bottom! Now for hire ☻
Alan Campos: alanmcampos.com
Alma Avila: almaavila.com
Chloe Tang: linqiaotang.com
Christopher Paguio: phristopher.com
Cindy Huang: cindyhuanghsinyu.com
Desirae Rivera: desiraerivera.design
Eddie Chak: eddiechak.com
Elaine Wu: elainewu11.com
Elaine Yau: elaine-yau.com
Lisa Ferkel: lisaferkel.com
Hansol Kwun: hansolkwun.com
Nick Velazquez: nickvelazquez.com
Karlie Cheang: karliecheang.com
Laura Bee: designsbybink.com
Megan Rowe: meganjrowe.com
Lumy Lu: lumy-lu.com
Victor Chien: victorchien.com
Francesca Truman: francescatruman.com