Often, those who are seeking a career in arts and design are lumped into a narrow stereotype of career options. They can design logos, teach visual art classes, or something similar.
While these are indeed career paths for artists and designers, they are also finding jobs in healthcare, government, community development, engineering, and science fields. Kevin Jankowski, Director of Career Center, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), says the way art and design students are educated can open the door to a broad spectrum of opportunities.
Broadening the perspective
Artists and designers are immersed in research every time they step into a studio, Jankowski explained. They need to understand the properties of materials and they need to know the history or environment surrounding the project. They also deal with organizational systems and must understand who the user or customer is. “We found that this is what companies are looking for when it comes to innovation,” he said.
To connect art and design students with internships in industries outside their educational comfort zone, RISD started the Maharam Fellowship. Through the fellowship, students receive a $5000 grant that encourages them to procure an internship in government, healthcare and STEM fields. According to Jankowski, the first step is for the RISD students to convince these organizations that they contribute in a positive and unique way.
In the six years of the Maharam Fellowship, students secured spots in the Mayo Clinic, the Massachusetts Port Authority, the World Economic Forum, the Dynamics Robotic Lab, and Books to Prisoners, among others.
“These are not typical areas where you expect artists and designers to end up,” said Jankowski. However, because of the skill set they present, these students may be among the best prepared to address the innovative thinking and teamwork organizations are looking for.