More than 50 digital media seniors gathered at the University of Houston at Sugar Land earlier this month to participate in DigiFest, a portfolio presentation event held each semester to bring together students, alumni and area industry professionals for networking and employment opportunities.
The event allows students to distill years of hard work toward a degree in digital media into the very best of their works for display. Portfolios may include anything from digital photography, web and game design, videography and virtual reality projects to print collateral like flyers, mailers, menus and album covers, all created throughout their time as digital media students.
"A little bit of everything from almost every semester has been like built into this final portfolio," said James Garcia, a current student graduating this December. "Each of these individual projects is from a different course, so I'm sharing work from three years ago, last year and even just this year. It really showcases who you are as a creator."
Thu Nguyen, who will graduate in the spring, was eager to use this first of two DigiFest opportunities to hone her presentation and pitch skills.
"I'm hoping to leave here more prepared and ready for next semester," she said. "And of course, I'm hoping to gain some new connections today as well."
Holding the event every semester as opposed to once a year gives students the ability to build upon not only their education, but their professional and networking experiences to make the most out of their presentation time.
"I really like being able to do this again, because last time I had not yet taken my portfolio class. I had compiled my portfolio on the side, and I like knowing that I was able to finish on my own, but I'm also happy to be presenting this more polished portfolio and feeling a bit less nervous this time around," said student Melissa Rurangirwa.
This semester, the event also included an hour-long panel session with five industry leaders – VP of Marketing & Alliances for Calian IT & Cyber Solutions Salim Gheewalla; CEO of Control Shift Video Jocelyn Randolph; Warner Norcross and Judd Partner Brian Wassom; Founding Partner of Dream Big Ventures Staci Latoison; and Chevron Head of User Experience and Project Manager Innovation Tommy Hooks. They shared their wisdom, experience, successes and advice with all in attendance.
"I really liked the panel," Rurangirwa said. "That was an interesting new addition."
DigiFest isn't just an opportunity for students to network with area companies and professionals. It's an opportunity for employers to seek out ideal candidates for their organization.
"Over the last couple of years, we were doing quite a bit of hiring and looking for qualified candidates," Randolph said. "After seeing a lot of disappointing portfolios and application submissions to those job openings, I really wanted to make it a mission to go out, speak to students and young professionals, and give them some advice so that they can enter the workforce more prepared for success."