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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Mackayle Weedon
Mackayle Weedon
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My name is Makaylee! I am going to be a senior majoring in Social Media Design Management. I am apart of the Phi Sigma Sigma Sorority chapter on campus! I love thrifting, photography, skiing and going...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Opinion — Its okay to outgrow your college friends
Opinion — It's okay to outgrow your college friends
Megan PoeApril 12, 2024

NMU alumni return to share insight

Amidst classwork, senior projects and tests, what tends to get lost in classroom lectures about preparing for life post-graduation is the actual reality of living and working in a student’s chosen industry.

Particularly for students looking to break into creative industries like photography and graphic design, a future void of a relevant job is an unnerving, but common, sentiment.

Hoping to alleviate some of the uncertainties of life following college graduation, Mike Forester, Noah Schloss, Eric Schleicher and Josh LeClaire — all recent graduates of the NMU art and design department — have created an event aimed at giving NMU students a taste of what post-graduation life will be like. The name of the event, “Alumni Brawl,” was made in anticipation of what Forester hopes will be an open forum for “wrestling” with the reality of finding success in the creative industries.

“The idea of the brawl is that we’re going to wrestle with these topics, we’re going to wrestle with each other and we’re going to have different interests,” Forester, who is currently doing freelance work in Detroit, said. “The idea is that we’re going to get a little controversial here, we’re going to tell you stuff you might not want to hear. That’s the beauty of the brawl.”

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The “brawl” theme also has roots in Forester’s time spent at NMU, when he and Schleicher — and later LeClair and Schloss — would spend hours in the art lab, encouraging each other, getting inspired and just trying to stay awake.

“We were good friends and we had this open communication with each other, we were hard on each other because we figured if we’re looking at this stuff and thinking, ‘well if we’re producing this, and we’re looking at this stuff for inspiration, how do we get to the point where our stuff is inspiration for someone else?’” Forester said. “We’re all in this wrestling rink and we’re all throwing ideas at each other and punching each other when we would make bad decisions.

“We were really trying to encourage each other to get better because we were so adamant about how to get outside of our program and make progressive stuff.”

The event will cover four main industries based on the careers of the four speakers: LeClair, a photographer; Schloss, a 3-D/digital artist; Forester, a graphic designer; and Schleicher, a videographer. Forester said discussion topics will range from making it in the freelance market and networking, to working in-house for firms or agencies, but will focus heavily on the common obstacles for those just graduating from college.

“What we’re trying to do is give students a different view that isn’t necessarily so sugar coated,” said LeClair, a photographer living in Marquette and 2009 graduate of NMU. “We’re just trying to give them things that will help prepare them for what’s going to be happening in the real world, as much as I hate to say that [phrase].”

According to Forester, inspiration for the event came after a handful of emails landed in his inbox this semester from students in the art and design department, most of which had questions about the industry and what they needed to be doing in college to be successful in the creative industry.

“I felt like it would be cool to have almost an older brother/older sister talk where we could give our insight as to what it takes to be, you know, post-college, early professionals,” Forester said. “Teachers can only do so much — they’re busy being educators, it’s what they are. So this is for us to go ‘hey, the weather constantly changes.’”

Because most professors have been out of the actual freelance and creative market for half a decade or more, Forester said he felt it was particularly important to inform students of the current state of the market and the lifestyle associated with freelancing in the creative industries.

“So what we wanted to do was say ‘how can we adapt our experience as post-college young professionals and kind of better prepare students to have a different perspective?’” he said. “It’s basically [going to be] all the stuff we ran into and were kind of off-the-cuff calling it ‘the shit they don’t tell you right before you graduate.’”

Similarly, Forester said being a recent, younger alumni could be of more benefit to burgeoning graduates than having an older alumni try to provide relevant insight.

“Anytime you assume alumni, I always think like ‘ehh, boring, I’m going to hear this person who is completely out of touch,’” he said. “The market changes are quicker for younger students.”

Jake Hill, a graphic communications major who is graduating next spring, said his time working on campus for Dining Services as a webmaster has helped prepare him the most for post-graduation employment, but thinks the “Alumni Brawl” is important, especially for students who don’t have any set plans for after graduation.

“It will give a good after-school perspective — being able to talk to them and ask them questions in an open forum for anything that needs to be asked,” Hill said. “I’d personally like to know some of the initial struggles that they had to overcome upon graduation, or some of the tactics they did to get a job, to get employed.”

The “Alumni Brawl” event takes place at 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 28 in room 165 of the Art and Design Building.

It will include a presentation as well as a question and answer session.

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