More than 350 students from the College of Architecture and the Built Environment and the Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce connected with employers from 100 leading design firms in the Gallagher Center at the University’s annual Design Expo on March 22. Companies conducted a record 1,003 scheduled interviews with students. In addition, during the open networking period, students could approach any employer’s table to pitch a project in their portfolio and network with design professionals.
“Our students impress us every year with their professionalism and the level of preparation they put into this event,” said Ainsley Maloney, associate director of industry relations at Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University). “To have over 1,000 interviews booked this year is remarkable. It shows the level of talent that our Jefferson programs continue to produce.”
The event allowed sophomore, junior and senior design students, fourth- and fifth-year architecture students and graduate students to discuss and interview for internships and full-time positions with some of the design industry’s leading firms.
“Most companies here have a strong history and close relationship with the University: 80 percent of the employers attending have hired a Jefferson student in the past three years and the majority of the firms have alumni representatives in attendance,” Maloney said.
Lilly Pulitzer has recruited Jefferson students for the past decade, said recruiter Lexy Mayer. The firm sought “energetic, curious and teamwork-oriented” fashion design and merchandising students at Design Expo.
“We have quite a few Jefferson alumni at Lilly, and we’ve been very successful in hiring candidates in the past,” she said. “I think Jefferson students generally come out of school with a strong technical understanding, as well as industry experience.”
Inverse Paradox also has a long track record of hiring Jefferson grads, said creative director Sarah Coale ’12, noting the company interviewed for web design and development interns this year. “Jefferson stands out because the curriculum helps students learn and understand the key objectives they need in order to succeed.”
Like Coale, Kai Olsen ’96, ’03, graduated from the University and returns frequently to recruit students. The design director of interiors at HOK particularly likes the Design Expo because it allows the firm to evaluate a wide range of students in a short time period. This year, they looked for entry-level interior designers and architects with design intelligence who are well rounded from a design and technical perspective.
EwingCole attended Design Expo to recruit entry-level architects and interior designers, as well as summer interns in architecture and interior design, said HR generalist Jillian Rosenthal. For her, top candidates possess strong written and verbal communication skills, work well with others, have previous internship experience and some understanding of the systems used at EwingCole, and want to become a licensed professional.
Graphic design communication senior Leah Pellegrino called the Design Expo “an amazing opportunity” to meet with top area design firms, including Archer, Push10, Robert Half, Dudnyk, Outerstuff, GSW, and Kitchen and Associates.
“It’s rare that you can have a whole day where companies come just for the sole purpose of meeting and recruiting new talent,” she said. “I really wanted to take advantage of the event.”
Industrial design senior Matt Selnick valued the chance of meeting with multiple companies and fine-tuning his presentation skills.
“I appreciate the work that Jefferson’s Career Services team puts into making Design Expo happen,” Selnick said. “It provides a great experience to so many programs on campus, and it’s foundational to some of our first professional experiences.”
Students from all design-related disciplines, including animation, architecture, interior architecture, landscape architecture, graphic design communication, industrial design, web design and development, interior design, sustainable design, fashion design, textile design, user experience, geospatial technology for geodesign and surface imaging, participated in Design Expo.