Ah, the first day of school. It’s an initiation fraught with the anxiety of the unknown and flashbacks to the horrors of entering the grade school cafeteria for the first time. Fortunately, here at Art Center, strategies have been put in place to help ease the pain of crossing that threshold. Of course this process has been systematized. What else would you expect from a design mecca?
Orientation week has been tailored to meet the needs of incoming freshman and their families, with a full agenda ranging from social mixers to in-depth information sessions on everything from campus sustainability to the infamous Art Center critique. Most critically, students are also matched with peer mentors who act as guides, companions and all-purpose resources for inside information on navigating the academic and social twists and turns inherent to any Art Center journey.
In the spirit of optimizing the orientation week experience for the incoming class of 2013, we’ve gathered the following tips and advice from an authoritative source — current students — on how to make the most of this transformative educational opportunity.
Thomas “Sho” Rust (Designmatters): Approach each opportunity with a strong understanding of who you are and the path that best gets you to where you want to be. Always push yourself to learn more, tying practical experience with classroom instruction. Remain purposeful and always engage in lively conversation and self-critique with focus and determination. This has always opened opportunities.
Stella Kalilina (Photography and Imaging): Be very hungry for an art education when you start at Art Center. Be certain of your commitment to your major/field. Prepare to give it your all and more, but also be open to asking for help when you need it. Art Center has lots of resources outside of class, for instance time management help and one-on-one counseling. Find ways to get involved on campus and meet friends outside of your major.
Karine Grigorian (Advertising): Know what you want to do. I really don’t think this is a school for students still trying to find their footing and find their way. The time spent here may seem long but it’s so short compared to your lifelong career, so spend as much time as you can on your growth as an artist. And be inspired by all the students around you. Also the whole all-nighter business is b.s. Organize or die!
George Widodo (Advertising): Do this solely out of your own will.
Anastasia Hanan (Graduate Industrial Design): Join Art Center Student Government. It will give you access to a wonderful network of people that you will likely not meet otherwise. Always ask “why?” until you find a suitable response. Also, help is there. Go seek it out. Art Center has such a depth of resources that we are all too busy to use. But try anyway!
Rich Siemer (Graduate Industrial Design): Be very sure of your commitment. If you are not completely dedicated, you will have a hard time enjoying your time here.
Alex Cabunoc (Product Design): Art Center is not your typical college experience. I would liken it more to a whetstone and you are the dull blade. Each day you will be dragged across its edge. It will not be fun a lot of the time. What you eat, the amount you sleep will not be ideal to put it lightly. You’ll often have to sacrifice things like weekends, and hanging out with friends, birthdays and holidays. But in the end, you will be that much sharper and that much more honed in your craft and ability. Really consider this beforehand and if it doesn’t sound like something you really want, look elsewhere.
Oliver Lo (Graphic Design: Take advantage of internships. Don’t underestimate how much you’ll get out of it. Your time at Art Center will be intense and rigorous and at many points exhausting. Taking a break from school to do an internship allows you to physically and mentally recharge while giving you a chance to experience something new and restore those creative juices. As great as the instructors and courses are at Art Center, there are simply things you learn on the job you can’t learn at school. Internships are like training wheels. It’s a great way to experience what it’s like in a real professional setting while enjoying the safety of being able to make mistakes. When you return to school, not only will all the things you’ve learned on the job make your work stronger but you’ll also be aware of the areas you want to develop further. Finally, internships are a great way to network and get your foot in the door. A successful internship could lead to an offer for a full-time position at that firm. At the very least, you’ll have made great connections with other designers that will add to your network and come in handy when it’s time to apply for a job and get referrals.
Charlene Chen (Graphic Design): Enjoy taking challenges/risks in your design process, and it’s totally fine to step out of your comfort zone and feel like you don’t have the control of everything. Sometimes it is more important to take away something valuable from the design process than to have a portfolio piece for your grad show.