Career & Co-op Center Hosts Employers-in-Residence at FAHSS

Erika Decker of DigitasLBi talks to aspiring graphic designers. Image by Katharine Webster
Employer-in-residence Erika Decker talks to graphic design majors about careers.

By Katharine Webster

“One, brand yourself and get yourself out there and go to networking events. They can actually be fun. And two, work really hard, stay up late and do not fall in love with your first idea. Murder your darlings.”

That was the advice ( Erika Decker, lead experience designer at the global marketing and technology company DigitasLBi’s Boston office, gave a classroom packed with art and design majors.

Decker was “employer-in-residence” for a day at the College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (FAHSS). She gave two classroom presentations, hosted by lecturer Regina Milan, and met individually with students to review their portfolios and resumes.

She advised the aspiring graphic artists to put their work on social media and design blogs, where other designers and potential employers can see it. She told them to take all the web design, user experience and user interface classes they can—and teach themselves digital skills if they can’t take a class. 

“If you don’t have web stuff in your portfolio, then you’re not anywhere near the pulse of what’s going on,” she said.

Erika Decker critiques work by Jennifer Vivier Image by Katharine Webster
Employer-in-residence Erika Decker critiques student Jennifer Vivier's work during an individual appointment.

The employer-in-residence program is just one way the Career & Co-op Center is tailoring its offerings to FAHSS majors, who don’t always have as direct a career path as students in other colleges, says Dana Norton, associate director of Career Services, whose “territory” is South Campus.

The center just won approval to offer a one-credit course that prepares sophomores, juniors and seniors in FAHSS for internships and jobs. The class will be hands-on, walking students through self-assessments, career exploration, informational interviews, resume and career fair preparation, online networking, interviewing skills and job and internship searches, she says.

“Because these are liberal arts majors, there are 50 different things they could do with their degrees,” Norton says.

Career counselors staff the South Campus office in O’Leary Library every weekday, welcoming students for appointments or walk-ins. The Career & Co-op Center organizes a Liberal Arts Career Fair on South Campus each winter. It also hosts a South Campus Awareness Day each fall to show how it can help students get internships  —key to getting jobs in their fields. 

Norton also coordinates a Political Science Career Panel each April with the department and brought in the State Department’s New England Diplomat-in-Residence this month to talk about possible careers.

Two other employer-in-residence days are planned this semester, with employers in social science research and digital media.

Jennifer Vivier, a junior majoring in graphic design and minoring in digital media, says she got a lot out of both the classroom session and her individual appointment with Decker, who gave her encouragement and frank advice. She got something extra, too: Decker’s card and an invitation to e-mail her edited portfolio before she uses it to apply for an internship.

“It’s great to see a different perspective from a designer who’s still early in her career, but has established herself,” Vivier said. “It’s very empowering to meet a woman in the field.”