Bubble campaign bursts onto campus

By Ivana Hester

Columbia students might have noticed a colorful addition to the campus’s hallways, stairwells and street level windows, courtesy of a new effort to help them connect to each other and potential employers and internships.

The Portfolio Center has launched a campaign to pique student curiosity in Talent Pool, a website that helps students and alumni collaborate and share their portfolios. Nearly every campus building now has bubble-shaped stickers encouraging students to check out Talent.Colum.edu and find their “creative other,” which is the campaign’s slogan.

According to Rob Funderburk, creative industry liaison at the Portfolio Center, Talent Pool, now in its second year of operation, has quickly become the most powerful tool the college has for connecting students to each other and industry professionals.

“We have over 3,000 active profiles on Talent Pool right now and it’s growing,” Funderburk said. “Ultimately, we are in the process of building it out and getting more people to take advantage of it in all of our creative disciplines.”

Instead of clicking through 20 different websites, visitors to Talent Pool start with a simple profile system that allows them to easily navigate through student portfolios, Funderburk said.

According to Allison Buskirk, who designed the campaign and is a graphic designer for Creative Services, the Portfolio Center gave her free range over the project as long as she used the slogan and promoted the website.

Buskirk decided to create a collage of students’ work posted on the website. She originally had an idea for a billboard-sized promotion, but budget restrictions led the Portfolio Center to the bubble sticker theme, which was inspired by the website’s landing page. Students gave written permission for their work to be used and were credited for their artwork.

“I thought, well, what if I were a  student, what would get my attention?” Buskirk said. “It worked out really well, being able to collage all these elements together.”

Lauren Gallagher, a sophomore graphic design major whose artwork is featured on the bubbles, said the opportunity is another chance to be noticed.

“My experience with Talent Pool has been positive so far,” Gallagher said. “I’ve gotten a few emails from people asking for logos, website headers and things like that. I am getting paid opportunities.”

Chas Appleby, a 2012 alumnus of the Art & Design Department whose artwork was also used for the campaign, said he was honored to be contacted by Columbia.

“To hear from the college was more rewarding than hearing from somebody who was interested in some fine art or a graphic design position,” he said. “It was a huge honor to get sought out for artwork that was done while I attended

the college.”

Funderburk said it is difficult to tell if the spike in the number of visits to Talent Pool is a result of the campaign or the start of a new school year.

According to Dirk Matthews, associate director of the Portfolio Center, the center has heard of many

students getting hired for jobs on the basis of their website profiles. In response to the positive feedback, the Portfolio Center plans to launch a “Success Campaign” featuring student testimonials on their Talent Pool experience to encourage others to magnify their Internet presence and build their

online portfolios.

Appleby said he found Talent Pool is easy to use, but it did not lead to offers for work or collaboration. He said the college was the first contact he received because of his online portfolio.

“I think the site might need to be more interactive with users,” Appleby said. “That may be the one thing that could possibly draw more people to it, other than this current campaign.”