SMAD Day returns! Be there Nov. 5.

Media Arts and Design

By Charlotte Matherly, staff writer

SMAD Day is back! Alumni will return to Harrison Hall and mingle with students in a series of events Nov. 5 — the Friday of Homecoming Weekend.

Adrienne Hooker, assistant professor in SMAD and coordinator for SMAD Day, said she’s excited to bring the event back after having to skip 2020 because of the pandemic.

“It’s that … one day a year that we all kind of come back to Harrison Hall and help each other out,” Hooker said.

Hooker said she encourages students and alumni to sign up online because spots in some of the activities are expected to fill up quickly. But attendees can also register at the door Nov. 5.

Hooker said the event will feature past favorites like the career fair with prospective employers and the one-on-one resume and portfolio review, in which alumni who have landed jobs give pointers to help students secure opportunities. But that has a new twist: the resume review will offer a virtual option for alumni who can’t make it back to campus.

James Faris (’21), who founded the Madison Business Review and now covers investing for Business Insider, said a SMAD Day in the past inspired him. For instance, he recalled how Wayne Epps (’16), a sports reporter for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, spoke at an alumni panel, which Faris said helped him realize it was possible to do his dream job straight out of college.

This time, Faris is one of the returning alumni. He has signed up to review resumes and said he “would love to help” students prepare for jobs and internships. But he’s also looking forward to reconnecting.

“I’m just really excited to connect with old friends and old professors who’ve supported me along the way,” Faris said. “I don’t know how often I’ll be in Harrisonburg, so every chance I get, it’s nice to see familiar faces.”

From 11 a.m.-noon, each of SMAD’s concentrations — Creative Advertising, Digital Video and Cinema, Interactive Design and Journalism — will host separate discussion panels in which students can seek advice about entering the workforce.

Hooker said the afternoon is shaping up to be “really exciting.”

After lunch, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., will be what Hooker calls the “masterclass power hour,” in which several alumni will lead workshops. While the topics and planning are still in the works, Hooker said students won’t want to miss it.

Digital Video and Cinema alumni will show their recent films from 1:30-4 p.m. in SMAD’s new cinema presentation room.

And there will be a SMAD Connect speaker at 2 p.m. This year, the speaker is Courtney Rukan (’00), who recently became multiplatform editing chief at The Washington Post. Hooker said Rukan will speak about her new position and will also review resumes in the morning.

The career fair will cap off the day between 2-4:30 p.m. It will feature job and internship opportunities at media companies with tables set up in several rooms throughout Harrison Hall.

Ian Frankel, a senior in the Creative Advertising concentration, attended the last SMAD Day in 2019 and said it was helpful to meet alumni who were professionals in his field. After having his resume reviewed by a professional copywriter, he said that gave him a “more holistic picture” of the industry.

“When you read about different jobs in a textbook, it’s a lot different than speaking to someone face-to-face and kind of being able to ask the questions that seem dumb,” Frankel said. “[It] showed me the things that I might like in a future job or the things that I might want to avoid when trying to find a job after college.”

Frankel will attend SMAD Day for the last time as a student this year, and he said he’s excited to have his updated resume reviewed again now that he has more experience to show and a thicker portfolio. Plus, he said, he’s “taking it more seriously” now that he’s preparing to graduate and enter the workforce.

Hooker said she expects about 300 students and alumni to attend, with a range of alumni who’ve attended several years in a row as well as recent 2020 and 2021 graduates who want to give back to SMAD.

“SMADDies are so giving of their time,” Hooker said. “Alumni are always excited to come do this … It’s gonna be a great day that no one should miss.”

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Published: Thursday, October 14, 2021

Last Updated: Thursday, November 2, 2023

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