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The Carrot Blog

Each year we host interns from the Rochester Institute of Technology (R.I.T.), with several segueing to full-time staff. Last Thursday, Carrot Creative made the annual trek up to Rochester, NY to attend R.I.T.'s "Creativity: Careers in Motion" event. As an alumnus, I have attended this event since Carrot began participating in the program, each time in the company of a different Carrot crew member. This time, Senior Creative Steve Badowski, joined me.

The recruiting event is a great experience for both the agencies and the aspiring students to get an inside look at eachother. On the student side, there is representation from the New Media Design and Development programs, Graphic Design, CG, photography and more. Every year, agency representation ranges from our NYDD neighbors ( Brooklyn Digital Foundry, Big Spaceship), Manhattanites ( Firstborn, Barbarian Group, Lux), and companies from as far as San Fran ( Odopod). Valuable as the event is for seeking fresh, excited talent, it is also fascinating to hear back from the students.

As we've grown and earned respect within our industry, internships with Carrot have become more coveted. We're approached because of our unique balance of work and play; culture first, always. R.I.T. kids work extremely hard (I would know!), often at the expense of the type of fun you might typically expect from major universities—particularly given the intense trimester system. The students in the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences exist in a uniquely creative environment. From fluid critique process to camaraderie and collaboration on projects, Carrot practices a lot of what is second nature to them. Through long hours in the trenches of school work, they build a family culture and that is something we pride ourselves on here at Carrot, making the segue to actual careers a little friendlier for those who join our team.

On the flipside, we find that most of the students we meet are grateful to have fresh eyes from the "real world" to provide a critical look at their work. During our conversations over portfolios, Steve and I both made a point to appraise projects on creative thinking, execution, but also practical application. What brands would do something like this? Or, more accurately, what brands would the idea provide value for, particularly to showcase their leadership and connect with their fans/ users/ customers on various platforms? Most of the student projects are problem and task based, not generally geared toward clients. According to the students, professional assessment is a refreshing and extremely valuable experience. Appraisal from classmates and professors is valuable but offers only limited feedback over time, particularly for students who are finishing their third and fourth years and have become accustomed to recurrent opinions and viewpoints.

At the end of the fair, students are spent from mental overload and dreams of the future, while agency reps are exhausted from the constant conversation and feedback. Arrangements are made through email for future discussion and sometimes for meetings the next day with choice candidates to chat about internship or career opportunities more in depth.

While Industry Day is very positive experience overall, there are a few final thoughts and tips worth mentioning, for the students we see next year:

  • Graphic Design students are limiting themselves heavily by not pursuing more digital curriculum. While R.I.T.'s Graphic Design program is extremely good training in principles, typography, etc., it is clearly failing the students when it comes to practical, modern application. We have come to rely on New Media candidates or students who have logged hours between both programs, for viable recruiting. Embrace classes in web and mobile!
  • Be prepared. Research and reach-out to agencies ahead of time to get on their radar – sorting through dozens of names and resumes after an intense day means that any pre-scheduling you can arrange will give you favor in agency awareness. Don't wait until the night before to put your portfolio up – most agencies browse the student attendees weeks ahead of time and make informal hit-lists in advance.
  • Be social. In this industry, being a nerd and having niche interests is ok! DO: Tweet in line with your interests and at agencies you like. DON'T: Keep your tweets protected (locked), or use it in a manner that would give you reason to. Follow up with agencies you interview with, and connect on LinkedIn.
  • Ask Questions. Use the opportunity to evaluate the agency as much as they are evaluating you. Ask the right questions about their work, who they work with, where they're located and why. You'll be a lot less thrilled to find your "dream" agency has a big oil client after you have started working there.

We're already excited about our top choices for summer interns and will be following up with them very soon. If you missed out on Carrot swag, please shoot rianna @ carrot creative dot com and email and we will hook you up! Thanks again to Adam Smith for inviting us, to Chris Lyons for guiding upcoming graduates, and to all of the students who came by to talk. See you next year!