A young man clutched his sketch book and introduced himself as Eric He, even though his resume announces him as Zhong-Xiou He.
Behind the table for Pawtucket-based TEN31 Productions, Creative Director Eric Auger and Amy Radis, a principal painter, chatted with him about how the company creates and displays “living art” for special events such as WaterFire Providence. Auger, like the 59 other employers in the cavernous but crowded ballroom at the Omni Providence Hotel, was looking for interns – four, to be exact.
As a junior at the Rhode Island School of Design, his meticulous ink renderings of saddles, tanks and imaginary monsters only hint at his love of storytelling, which he correctly sensed is something Auger is looking for.
“They told me what their interns do,” He explained when the conversation was over, “and it seems like it’s a start-to-finish process – concepts to costumes to performance. I left a resume. We’ll see how it turns out.”
RISD is certainly not the first school to offer fairs to promote internships with employers for students, but the Sept. 25 Internship Connect program, followed on three different days by three employer-led panel discussions for small student groups, put the focus on 450 students taking the initiative in an intentional quest for internships with employers who are actively hiring.
That number of students has more than doubled since the fair was first offered two years ago, said Susan Andersen, associate director for employer relations in RISD’s Career Center. She attributed the interest to word-of-mouth promotion from other students and today’s difficult economic climate.
At RISD, holding this fair in the fall semester for the third time was intended to give sophomores, juniors and even seniors who may not yet have a complete portfolio ready to present, a way of networking and preparing to compete in a real-world setting. The three-hour session was set up like a job fair, with the emphasis on internships in disciplines ranging from industrial design to illustration.
“We really emphasize that they have a plan and a strategy in terms of finding an internship or a job,” Andersen said, “and part of that plan is developing a network, so when you’re trying to make connections for an internship or job, you can go back to your network.”