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The Inside Scoop of Our Design Apprenticeship Program

Glantz’s First Design Apprentice Sets the Tone for the Future

Being Glantz Design’s first-ever Design Apprentice has been nothing but incredible. In May 2019, I graduated from the University of Iowa with my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. I thought this whole “adulting” world would be easy with the experience gained in college, but I was wrong. In November, my patience with hearing back from companies paid off when I received an email from Jen Lemerand, Glantz Design’s Studio Lead and Creative Director. Enclosed was a letter saying I was accepted into the Design Apprentice program. During the program, Jen and Holly Leach, Glantz Design’s Associate Creative Director, came up with the following goals for the apprenticeship:

  1. Put design fundamentals from your education into practice.
  2. Learn about different clients and industries.
  3. Expand your knowledge of design software applications.
  4. Become more confident in design decision.
  5. Learn about various mediums of design.
  6. Learn about web design practices and contribute to projects.
  7. Contribute to the team.
  8. Improve your attention to detail.
  9. Effectively manage your time, working efficiently.
  10. Adopt a strong core of strategy for your work.

Although these goals seemed overwhelming when I only had four months to accomplish them, the Glantz team made sure I was able to touch on everything. Here are highlights of the goals I confidently checked off my list with pride.

Going from 0 to 110%

Become more confident in design decisions.

What made me more confident in my design decisions was the team, practice, and doing my research. Over the past four months Glantz has challenged, supported and taught me more about design than what college did (or at least that’s what it feels like). Everybody wanted me to keep learning and pushing myself to do my ultimate best. I was able to work on real client projects that had fast turnarounds and roadblocks in my court to problem solve. Participating in meetings that gave me industry insight on what certain client do. Building a wireframe in Sketch, a prototyping tool, taught me how to build out components for flexible website design. The team included their team values in their everyday life and helped bring out the best in me.

Riley, Ricardo & Angela at AIGA Chicago Bold event
Cheering on Ricardo Lisboa (Designer) with Angela Fong (Junior Designer) at the AIGA Chicago Bold event where he spoke on the unique path to his design career.

When it came time to pitching my ideas to creative directors, I realized that practicing is a crucial component. A project that helped me become more optimistic in telling my reasonings was our spring client gift, Grow with Glantz. Before check-in meetings I was able to do a dry run with Holly. I explained how I came to conclusions and the reasoning behind them. This allowed me to learn the most effective way to pitch a concept and then focus on the fine details. By practicing I felt empowered that my ideas would work and fit the client’s wishes.

By doing research I was able to back up my ideas with facts, leaving me confident in presenting my thoughts and opinions. My research was also helpful to my co-workers. For those that hit a roadblock, I was able to show them my research to guide them in the right direction.

What Goes on Beyond Your Computer Screen

Learn about web design practices and contribute to projects.

Before coming to Glantz I didn’t have much experience in web design. I had taken a few classes in college but wasn’t able to do any real-world work with clients. During my apprenticeship I was able to learn about Sketch, sitemaps, and wireframes. This was helpful because it was a nice behind-the-scenes look at User Interaction and User Experience design.

I was able to improve by learning how to tell a story, tag-teaming on projects, and using a mind map. A project that I helped me put all these ideas to work was redesigning a talent recruitment home page. I tag-teamed this project with Ricardo Lisboa, Designer at Glantz. As this was my first time designing a website, Ricardo showed me how to tell a story through one scroll as well as through each component. By collaborating, I saw how Ricardo overcomes roadblocks and how he starts from a blank slate and finishes with a beautiful and clean design. We came up with a theme of being serious but still playful. Having a theme can help amplify the story the client is trying to communicate to their audience.

We were able to find a successful theme by doing a mind map. Mind maps are a great way to start your creative process because they help you flush every detail. You can then start connecting what you see is common and start to pull inspiration. This makes the project more exciting and is a great team building exercise. By having whiteboard walls throughout the office we are able to do mind maps wherever!

Riley, Ricardo & Holly mindmapping on a whiteboard
Ricardo, Holly, and I creating a mind map to find an overall theme for a potential client.

Make a Game Plan

Adopt a stronger core of strategy for your work.

Having a plan is the best way to approach a new project. I like to follow a timeline for due dates and have weekly check-ins meetings with team members. This can make a big difference in project productivity. I was able to adopt a stronger core strategy by sketching out ideas, doing my research, and participating in Glantz’s book club.

In the company’s first all team book club, we read Creative Strategy and the Business in Design by Douglas Davis. This book helped me understand the business side of design, as well as how project managers interact with our clients. In our weekly meetings I learned how we can start incorporating these concepts in our everyday practices. This helped open my eyes to what I didn’t practice during my last project and what I can include in my next.

Team brainstorm at desk with Riley and Daniel
Brainstorming with Daniel Aberra, Glantz’s 2nd apprentice who joined in the new year.

When I was handed a project sometimes I would have a great idea that I would go straight to my computer. This later hurts me rather than helps me. Starting with sketches I am able to express every idea, and then later narrow them down. I am able to rule out what works, what doesn’t, and what can be combined to create a stronger impact. During critiques I was able to back up why some ideas wouldn’t be the best fit, discussing trends and how to incorporate it within my design.

Take Away

These past four months I have been spoiled by the friendly, supportive, and talented community at Glantz Design. I’m lucky to have landed this opportunity right after college to get a feel of what the “real world” is like. If you are looking for a team that will challenge and include you, look no further! Apply to join this incredible creative strategy design studio as a Design Apprentice, Intern or full time teammate!

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