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Internships are the Pathways to Careers

Kayla Clark, Karla Alvarado and Taylor Thomas standing with their ADDY Awards

Internships are the pathways to careers. They build life long memories and provide practical experiences, all while laying the groundwork for future endeavors. Many interns utilize these experiences for learning new skills, growing their network and exploring future career paths.  

Two graphic designers from Student Life Marketing, Karla Alvarado and Taylor Thomas, were recognized for their abilities with their recent winnings of ADDY Awards. The American Advertising Foundation annually conducts a local iteration of the American Advertising Awards, which is the first of a three-round national competition. Across the nation, local entrants compete to receive an ADDY Award, which recognizes the best in specialized marketing fields. 

When asked what drew Alvarado, Purdue senior, to graphic design, she explains, “Ever since I was little, my brother was into art and so was my mom. I’ve been surrounded by family who appreciated art.”  

She further elaborates, “I like the freedom that I can have with my creativity in graphic design. I think it’s cool how I can come up with an idea, put it into the computer and then it comes to life.” 

Taylor Thomas, Purdue senior, was drawn to graphic design for similar reasons.  

I got into graphic design because of my mom,” she says. “I grew up watching her work on graphic design projects. She is a freelance graphic designer, and it was so cool watching her express her creativity on projects. It is a really unique career.”  

With the knowledge that they wanted to pursue careers in graphic design, they then had to make a decision regarding where to look for an internship. Both women elaborated on why they chose Student Life marketing to gain valuable experiences. 

“I heard really great things about Student Life and the environment and staff and it sounded like the perfect place I wanted to learn in,” Alvarado says. “It ended up opening many new doors and opportunities that I couldn’t have imagined and I was able to learn new design skills I didn’t have before!” 

Thomas pleasantly reminisces on getting involved with the program.  

“I became a part of the Student Life Marketing team because I believe it's crucial to gain as much experience as possible while still studying at Purdue.” she remarks. “My ultimate career goal is to work in marketing because I'm particularly drawn to the collaborative and creative atmospheres and The Student Life team offered just the kind of environment I was looking for.” 

Alvarado and Thomas were both encouraged and supported through their application process for the ADDYs by Student Life Marketing, where the women work as interns. 

Student Life Marketing interns work on design, photography, web and writing projects for clients throughout Student Life. As part of their internship experience, students can submit their work to local, regional and national marketing award competitions. Student Life Marketing provides marketing and communication services for Student Life departments and units and focuses on crafting student-centered communications showcasing Student Life’s impact on the Purdue campus experience. This internship is one of numerous in Student Life that provides co-curricular learning and professional development opportunities. Student Life as a whole employs over 2,300 students. 

“I’ve met a lot of great people and my managers have guided me through the experience,” Alvarado says. “I take constructive criticism and use it as ammunition to do better.” 

Kayla Clark, Karla Alvarado and Taylor Thomas standing with their ADDY Awards

Their manager, Kayla Clark, supervises both graphic design interns and facilitated the awards submission process for all Student Life Marketing interns along with Andi Hedrick, project coordinator. Clark herself was a graphic design intern who has won ADDYs as a student and professional, and provides guidance throughout the design process. 

Through this opportunity, Alvarado and Thomas were provided with the opportunity not just to grow as professionals, but to also be recognized as skilled individuals in their craft. 

 Going into the process of creating an award-winning project, both of the designers agree that research and understanding the target audience is essential.

Karla Alvarado standing in Pete's Za near the environmental graphics that she designed.

Alvarado worked with Dining & Culinary to create a throwback, 90s-themed design for Pete's Za. Her design created environmental graphics for the new location in Tarkington Hall. Reflecting on her thought process, she gave insight into how she tackles a project. 

“My initial thought was that I had no idea where to go,” Alvarado says. “I knew that the expectation was to go with a 90’s feel, so I started researching what was big in the 90’s. I found that videogames and pixelation were both big in the 90’s and that’s what took me in that direction.”

Taylor Thomas holding the holiday card she designed.

For Thomas’ project, she went through a similar thought process. Working with the Office of the Vice Provost for Student Life, she was given the task to design a holiday card. After studying her demographic, those on staff within Student Life, she went through several mockups until landing on the perfect Purdue-themed holiday card.  

Alvarado and Thomas each partnered with clients within Purdue Student Life for these projects. Partnerships like these build valuable work experiences, and Student Life Marketing works hard to deliver real life experiences for their interns. By collaborating with colleague throughout the division on projects, interns walk away as well-rounded candidates for the professions they are pursuing. 

Both designers walked away with projects they were proud of, and awards to reflect the hard work and dedication they poured into their work.  

Thomas emphasizes, “This wasn’t just an award for us, this was an award for this office. There were so many people that influenced the designs.” 

Student Life Marketing shapes interns into successful professionals, and interns’ hard work and commitment to achievement and excelling past expectations make accomplishments like winning ADDYs possible. Alvarado landed a job at SCI Innovations designing logos for schools and her favorite upcoming projects are designing logos to put onto school apparel. Thomas is excited to be following her mother’s footsteps as a freelance graphic designer, and will be moving to Chicago post-graduation. When Thomas and Alvarado graduate this year and transition into their future careers, they will be well equipped to succeed in all of their future pursuits, making a difference and influencing those around them one design at a time.