Young GDES Alumni Making Waves in Industry

It’s no secret that Auburn’s School of Industrial and Graphic Design (SIGD) prepares Graphic Design (GDES) graduates to tackle industry on day one.

Listed as a “Top Design School” by Graphic Design USA for the past ten years, the GDES program boasts a robust curriculum that emphasizes typography, branding, UI/UX, publication design, motion design, illustration and packaging design, while also offering advanced courses in interactive media-based design (app, website, magazine, type in motion and more). A world-class faculty of seasoned designers and personalized guidance from a dedicated Career Services Specialist ensure GDES graduates are well-prepared to launch successful careers immediately upon graduation.

The Impact of Internships

Internships serve as pivotal milestones in the transition from student to professional, providing hands-on experience and invaluable networking opportunities. Students seeking internships receive one-on-one support from CADC Career Services Specialist Mindy Walden, while the program’s curriculum offers a course dedicated to portfolio creation and presentation.

Ben Farrow '23

“The internship practicum course in my junior year of Graphic Design (GDES) was extremely helpful,” shared Ben Farrow ’23, a Graphic Designer for cummins&partners in New York City. “It pushed me to update my résumé, portfolio and website, setting me up beautifully to secure an internship—and later a job—in a city I love.”

Catherine Johnson '22

Catherine Johnson ’22, a Junior Digital Designer for Benefit Cosmetics in San Francisco, California, added, “Working closely with my mentor allowed me to determine where I needed to grow and see how to apply what I learned in school to real-world projects.”

“Also, getting the opportunity to work alongside some talented people in the industry inspired me a lot and helped me feel more comfortable with my transition out of school,” she continued. “The internship course with Professor Kelly Bryant & Associate Professor Courtney Windham was a main reasons I got my internship which was a huge part in helping me land my job with Benefit.”

Faculty Play Critical Role in Graduate Success

GDES faculty members also play a crucial role in shaping such students’ educational experiences, providing guidance, inspiration and mentorship along the way. For these graduates, specific faculty members left a lasting impression.

“Assistant Professor Devon Ward’s Advanced Interactive Media class allowed me to push my concept—the visual identity, physical collateral and digital application for a festival—as far as it could go by testing across a variety of mediums,” stated Farrow. “And Assistant Professor Lee Clark was a personal inspiration who had an enormous impact on my student experience.”

Emma Young '23

Emma Young ‘23 agreed, recalling that Clark “always encouraged me to follow my secondary passion of illustration while I was in the program, which allowed me to create many projects I felt were uniquely mine. He pushed me to continually excel in my work and to persevere through challenging assignments.” Young is now a Graphic Designer for the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas.

Bailey Carr '23

“In Bryant’s Typography 2 studio, she allowed us to experiment and explore ideas out of the box,” shared Bailey Carr ’23, Director of Communications for The Ledges of Huntsville in Huntsville, Alabama. “She encouraged ‘happy accidents’ and had such a positive impact on my student experience.”

Madison Williams '22

Madison Williams ’22, Marketing Digital Graphic Designer at Carters, Inc., in Atlanta, Georgia, shared similar notions about Associate Professor Samantha Herbert.

“From her guidance in Typography 1 to her unwavering support as a mentor during my senior project, her wisdom resonated throughout my time in the program,” she said. “Even now, as I work on new projects, I instinctively consider whether she would approve of my design choices.”

Sense of Community Encourages Excellence

In addition to its dedicated faculty, the Auburn Graphic Design program is also renowned for its supportive community and emphasis on excellence.

“My student experience was made by the professors I had,” said Johnson. “All the professors who pushed, supported and encouraged me had a major impact on the designer I am and am still becoming.”

“I felt honored to be a part of such a driven group,” Young noted. “I was able to learn from others in my cohort and see their design skills evolve as mine did.”

“Having the opportunity to create a cohesive body of work within my own conceptualized brand was challenging yet rewarding because I had the opportunity to work with each professor in my mentor group as well as my incredibly talented classmates,” Williams agreed. “Now, in my role at Carter’s, I find myself drawing upon the lessons learned at Auburn and thriving in a professional, yet creative environment.”

Auburn Experience Eases Real-world Transition

As Auburn GDES graduates transition from academia to the professional realm, they often discover parallels between their educational experiences and their roles in the industry.

“For me, it’s been remembering the value of the process and practice you learn and develop in school,” emphasized Johnson.

“I find that time management is just as important in my career as it was in college,” Young added. “Auburn was the first place where I had to actively pursue more of a work-life balance, and what I learned then has helped me remain focused and avoid burnout in my career.”

“Learning to communicate your ideas efficiently and properly helps everyone: to present your ideas well to an audience or a customer, learning and studying the target audience,” said Carr.

Forever Shaped by Their Auburn Years

Looking ahead, these graduates have clear short- and long-term career goals, shaped by their experiences at Auburn.

“My short-term goals,” Farrow concluded, “include continuing to build my portfolio as a junior designer and working in as many mediums, styles and project scales as possible.”

Williams shared similar goals, stating, “My short-term goals include perfecting my current position at Carter’s, and my long-term goals include becoming a creative or art director. Auburn Graphic Design has prepared me because of my ability to take design feedback and apply it, as well as learn from others and not be afraid to make mistakes.”