Production week helps students polish portfolios

By Thomas Pardee

Columbia’s Portfolio Center held the last of three production weeks of the semester Nov. 18-21, all as part of its ongoing effort to boost students’ chances of landing a great first job.

November’s Portfolio Production Week, held in the Portfolio Center’s office on the third floor of the Wabash Campus Building, 623 S. Wabash Ave., included days designated to help students design business cards, CD and DVD covers and any other promotional materials that could help make them more appealing to potential employers. On Nov. 21, students could even make appointments with professional photographers to have product shots or headshots produced, all as part of Photo Doc Day.

Though students can schedule appointments year-round, Production Week is specifically intended for students who will soon take the employment plunge.

“You have to be ready,” said Mercedes Cooper, communications coordinator for the Portfolio Center. “It’s for people who know what they want, and who know what they need to put it together-people who have a vision of what they are creating.”

Cooper said Production Week’s participation numbers are increasing each month, which she said suggests the word is getting out about the center’s services.

Students who sign up for an appointment during Production Week are given time to work one-on-one with graphic designers to produce logos or themes that fit their needs. Portfolio production manager Keesha Roberts said creating event days devoted to specific purposes makes it possible to reach a broader range of students.

“Students can walk into a business card design session and walk out 20 minutes later with a design in hand,” she said. “[Production Week] allows us to offer more services to more students.”

Despite the quick turnaround expected during production weeks, designers working at the portfolio center said they challenge themselves to make the time spent with students, and the work they help them produce, as personal as possible.

“It’s rapid-fire,” said Galen Gulick, a 2006 graphic design alumnus who works as a freelance designer for the Portfolio Center during its production weeks. “Every 20 minutes I have a new client to work with.

But I always try to push it just a little further and make sure every student comes away with something that’s tailored to their interests and their field.”

One of Gulick’s clients last week, Tim Smisek, said he’s utilized Production Week services in the past and is very happy with the work he’s been able to take away from his appointments.

“People underutilize this type of opportunity,” said Smisek, a junior music major who had press materials and headshots produced at the center last week. “These are really good, experienced people who know what they’re doing. The quality is as good, or better than, anything you could pay a lot for to get professionally done.”

Tamale Sepp, an interdisciplinary interactive arts and media graduate student, attended Graphic Design Day on Nov. 20. She said she’s worked with the Portfolio Center in the past to build her personal website and was pleased with the results.

Sepp said the center’s staff taught her how to create and maintain an online space she could use to market herself.

“I needed something that was very professional-looking, and that’s what they were able to offer,” Sepp said. “They worked with me-it wasn’t just me using their services.”

The Portfolio Center held similar production weeks in September and October, and will hold more next semester. All the center’s services, including Production Week, are included in students’ tuition and can be utilized at no additional charge.

Rachal Duggan, the center’s office coordinator, said students have nothing to lose from stopping by the center and working with the staff to devise a personal marketing plan, and eventually scheduling a

Production Week appointment.

She said it’s often not just a student’s skills that matter-it’s how those skills are marketed.

“If you have good work, that’s great,” Duggan said. “But if you have good work with a professional portfolio presentation, it’s going to put you over the top.”

Next semester’s production weeks are still being finalized, but will take place in February, March and April. For exact dates, and for more information about the Portfolio Center’s services, visit