Graphic design graduate found career success after internship
Landon Barton knows firsthand how essential an internship can be for a college graduate—especially a graduate with a graphic design degree in a competitive job market.
Barton, who graduated from Wichita State University in May 2011, works for Greteman Group in Wichita as a graphic designer. He landed an internship at the full-service branding agency as a junior and was hired upon graduation. Barton creates logos and motion graphics, and does editorial work, video editing and full branding for clients; his specialty is aviation marketing.
“The best part of the job is seeing the finished product in use around town or online,” said Barton. “To see something I made being used and seen by others is pretty awesome. Functional design is pretty incredible, and creating a great user experience is very rewarding.”
Barton credits his hands-on experience as a student, his internship and involvement with the American Institute of Graphic Artists (AIGA) as prominent reasons for his success.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today had I not been involved in the design program events that got me in touch with these professionals, especially through AIGA,” said Barton. “The design program is great, but nothing compares to what you learn through an internship.”
Networking, experience essential before graduation
Barton had the opportunity to meet with agencies such as Greteman Group by participating in a junior portfolio exhibit organized by WSU’s graphic design program. He said that his instructors, especially assistant professor Jeff Pulaski, motivated him to seek experience opportunities outside of school.
“Through fostering relationships with local professionals, I was able to gain unique experiences that students from other schools might miss out on,” said Barton. “The professors here really encouraged us to reach out and talk with these professionals, pick their brains and learn from them.”
Pulaski said that networking is best achieved through involvement in non-classroom groups and activities. He also noted that real-world experience is an essential part of developing as a graphic designer.
“Application projects are set up for the students that give them every opportunity to succeed,” said Pulaski. “The real world is often not that kind. Seeing how things really work before graduation can give students valuable insights into the job market.”
Barton believes he is fortunate to be working at Greteman Group.
“Through WSU and AIGA, I got plenty of one-on-one time with many agencies and professionals, eventually leading to my internship and job,” said Barton. “Without that, I would probably still be sending my portfolio to agencies today or have left the town to find a job elsewhere.”