Communications and graphic design majors at Hesston College are getting an extra leg up on their peers. Whereas most students don’t start building their professional portfolios until their junior or senior years, seven Hesston students are digging in and building their portfolios as freshmen and sophomores.
The students earned competitive internships working with the college’s Marketing and Communications team. The partnership between the Communications program and the Marketing and Communications office is the brainchild of communications faculty Kendra Burkey and director of Marketing and Communications Marathana Prothro. The two have a shared vision for identifying students with particular talent in the field, providing them with a strong education and nurturing their skills and mentoring them as young professionals.
The interns – sophomores Stephen Cabe (Niles, Mich.), JD Hershberger (Hesston, Kan.), Marissa Hochstetler (Strang, Neb.) and Carley Wyse (Archbold, Ohio,) and freshmen Quinn Kathrineberg (Salina, Kan.), Alex Leff (Andover, Kan.) and Laken Richer (New Paris, Ind.) – are writers photographers, graphic designers and digital media specialists putting their creativity and talent to work in a tangible way.
“This is a smart, responsible, hard-working and creative bunch,” Burkey said. “To see those qualities in full effect as these students collaborate with professionals is incredibly rewarding.”
The students meet weekly with the Marketing and Communication staff to plan various forms of communication for the college and then work separately or in groups to bring the visions to life.
“I am incredibly impressed with these students’ innate communications and marketing sense,” Prothro said. “It’s exciting to see them developing their skills and making our team stronger.”
Take Marissa Hochstetler for example. She came to Hesston still deciding on a major and after exploring several options, chose graphic design late in her freshman year through inspiration from courses like Desktop Publishing and Career Development and the encouragement of her parents.
Hochstetler’s first assignment for her internship was to create shareable social media content that alumni and students would want to share in their newsfeeds. Her finished project –a comedic meme of longtime Bible instructor Marion Bontrager – became social media gold for the college as its most shared post ever and was so popular the Bible and Ministry program and T-shirts of her project made.
“Through my first project’s success and the positive responses I have received about my other ideas, I have grown more confident in my creativity, skill and ability to work in the graphic design field,” Hochstetler said.
The interns are learning, through challenges and successes, that creating and writing for a public audience is very different than creating for academic or personal purposes. The early experience is paying off.
“The internship has taught me a lot about the collaborative nature of journalism,” said Hershberger, who has aspirations of being a sports broadcaster or journalist. “The stories any newspaper, website or college produce have to flow together. I can’t simply stick to sports and disregard the other work being done.”
“With the internship, I not only get to create something, I get professional input on how to make my work better and take it to a whole other level I couldn’t have reached on my own,” Wyse said.