Internships: Real-World Experience

Graphic Design Students Lend Talents, Create Marketing Campaign for Local Non-Profit

For the past 10 years, Professor of Art Bob Naujoks has encouraged his students to share their graphic design talents with the community by working on public service projects and volunteer endeavors. This past year, through a connection with the Young Parents Network of Cedar Rapids, Naujoks and his students were given the opportunity to design marketing materials for the budding nonprofit organization and to assist the group with creating a stronger brand identity and image in the community.

With aid from Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, the Young Parents Network (YPN) began in 1985 as a support group for mothers. The organization soon began developing programs for young dads, grandparents and children, all aimed at helping them grow into successful families. In 2006, YPN served over 14,000 young parents, children and youth.

Before meeting with Naujoks’s graphic design students, YPN assessed its advertising materials and realized it needed assistance in positioning the organization to consistently reflect who it is and who it serves. YPN officials presented their dilemma to Naujoks and his class. The student-artists, all members of Naujoks’ Graphic Design II course, presented to YPN more than 12 different marketing ideas and branding concepts. Ideas included simple flyers and postcards, bookmarks and an electronic newsletter, all in an effort to congeal the non-profit group’s brand image and offer a platform for future communication and marketing vehicles.

YPN shared all of the student designs with its Board of Directors, which chose a preferred design. The design that rose to the top was that of sophomore Mallory Fondell, a multimedia/design and marketing major from Dubuque. Each of the student designs, however, provided YPN with a new way of looking at their long running organization.

Kathy Kaiden, director of development at YPN, was amazed by the quality of work. “The designs we were given were fantastic,” says Kaiden. “The relationships we’ve built with Mount Mercy have been valuable for both organizations. We were able to teach young people the importance of being involved with nonprofits in the community, and the students were able to practice the skills they’ve learned in the classroom.”

For some students, this project was their first experience working for a “real” client. Graphic design student Fondell enjoyed the process of meeting with an actual client. “Meeting with YPN brought real world experience to us in a relaxed classroom setting,” she says. “It allowed us — the students — to practice meeting with a client in an environment that let us gain confidence as designers.”

Naujoks says projects like the one with YPN benefit everyone involved. “It is a rewarding process,” he says. “Students’ potentials are reinforced and the variety of ideas they presented for YPN excited everyone.” The feedback from YPN about the collaboration with Mount Mercy students was overwhelmingly positive.

“The college’s reputation in the community is outstanding, and now we know why,” says Kaiden. Adds Naujoks, “It is important to have students step up and help the community while learning the graphic design process through the final result. With YPN students became more aware and have a better understanding of programs that serve our community.”