Professors Leads Networking Trip to Nation’s Art Mecca

Published: August 15, 2014 | Author: Jessica Young | Read Time: 2 minutes

SUU art students travel to Seattle as part of networking trip.

Networking may be key to landing your dream job but it seems an impossible task to get into the influential offices as a college student. That’s where professors like Ron Spears come into the frame. With numerous amounts of powerful contacts within the art industry, he went to work creating a weeklong excursion to the nerve center for artists and designers, Seattle, Wash.

Nine Southern Utah University students descended upon the city and were given a schedule filled with meetings and interviews at the top galleries, design firms and gaming industries, all with the purpose to give students networking opportunities with the trades top players.

“As an educator I want to be sure to use every resource available to my students,” said Spears, assistant professor of drawing at SUU. “Engaging with professionals, outside the classroom, gives students a better understanding of what they are studying.”

And this idea of engaging with professionals is exactly what the students did. They attended dinner parties with executive directors and art producers of galleries and received personal tours of companies such as Dillon Works, a prop fabrication facility, and Big Fish Games.

These meetings ensured students were meeting with professionals in an informal manner, which then provided opportunities for them to truly get to know the professionals they are hoping to become.

One of these students is Ann Middleton, a senior illustration major. She said of the expedition, “There was something to be gained at every turn of this trip. We learned about grabbing hold of our passions, whether it be in art or not, and using those passions to build our platform for successful careers. The fear of the unknown will always be there, but now knowing the right tools and people will make it almost impossible to fail.”

In addition to Middleton traveling to Seattle and meeting with the city’s top art designers, she and graduate student Kit Kendall planned and orchestrated the majority of the weeklong trip alongside their professor.

Middleton said of this added experience, “I have seen the direct application of what I have been learning in school and how it is used in my chosen industry. It is no longer a disconnected thought. I have also now seen what working industry professionals do and the "after university" world no longer looks impossible and scary.”

The students who attended this trip will help with the creation of an original book with self-created illustrations this fall, which will then be published as part of their senior seminar class. 

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