Success by Design: Internship Adds to Graphic Communication Repertoire for New WIU Alumna

Mariah Bartz, a brand new alumna of Western Illinois University, with the Pokémon Go map she designed for WIU's Macomb campus.

Mariah Bartz, a brand new alumna of Western Illinois University, with the Pokémon Go map she designed for WIU’s Macomb campus.

What experiences in an internship can help make it “awesome” for a college student?

Just ask Macomb native and brand new Western Illinois University alumna Mariah Bartz. This summer, those of us who work in University Relations had the great pleasure of working with Mariah—she has been in our office every morning since May 24 working to complete a design internship, the final requirement for her bachelor’s degree in graphic communication.

“Working with University Relations allowed me to utilize my skills in a real-world setting. I had to apply many things I had learned in my courses, and this served as both continued practice and as a reminder for the tips and tricks I needed to make something look the way I imagined it to be,” Mariah noted. “During this internship, I designed posters, postcards, birthday cards, advertisements, booklet pages, maps, and a social media directory webpage and a blog directory webpage for Western’s website. I was fortunate to be given such a wide variety of projects during my time there, and it was particularly awesome to get to work both with page layout and web design.”

Throughout much of her time at Western, Mariah has truly embraced the University’s core values of educational opportunity and personal growth and has the projects/creations now under her belt to prove it. Not only has she created a number of real-world projects this summer we’re using in University Relations—e.g., the Pokémon Go map for campus and she completed a much-needed update to our social media directory—but she also has been doing so since at least 2015 as a Western student.

Mariah with the Rocky statue she was selected to paint the 2015 edition of the Rocky on Parade campaign.

Mariah with the Rocky statue she was selected to paint the 2015 edition of the Rocky on Parade campaign.

In the fall last year, Mariah was selected to design the 2015 holiday card, which features an original watercolor lithograph of Sherman Hall. The card was sent to more than 750 friends of the WIU Foundation. Also in 2015, Mariah was chosen to design and paint the Foundation’s Rocky statue as a part of the 2015 Rocky on Parade campaign. Bartz’s “Molecule Dog,” featuring the chemical symbols for love and happiness, is now situated by the flagpole north of the University Union.

Mariah, who has also had her artwork featured at the Juried Student Exhibition at WIU, the Evanston Art Center (Evanston, IL), and the Figge Art Museum (Davenport, IA), shared a bit more about her background and her experiences at Western below…

Q. Where did you grow up? What are your interests outside of work/school?

Mariah: I grew up here in Macomb, so WIU has been a part of my life for a long time. Outside of work or school, my interests include doing small art projects, playing video games, and watching movies. I am very much a homebody.

Q. What have been some of your most memorable experiences as a student at WIU?

Rocky on Parade statue painted by WIU alumna Mariah Bartz (pictured here with Mariah's aunt, grandmother, and mother) on the north side of the Western Illinois University Union.

The 2015 Rocky on Parade statue painted by WIU alumna Mariah Bartz (pictured here with Mariah’s aunt, grandmother, and mother). The statue is located on the north side of the Western Illinois University Union.

Mariah: The most memorable experience was getting drafted by the WIU Foundation to paint their Rocky sculpture for Rocky on Parade in 2015. It was fun for me to paint it, and now that my “molecule dog” is under the flag post by the Union, it’s fun to see people interact with the dog and take photos of it.

Q. What are your career plans?

Mariah: For the future, I plan to move into a city to get a broader use for my degree, with either printed media or web design. I may also consider continuing my education—if I later feel that it would be a good direction for me to go.

Q. How do you think your studies have prepared you for your career?

Mariah: I feel like many of the courses I took benefitted me greatly, and I had some excellent instruction from a few teachers along the way. There are some good habits I have formed through my advanced design classes that have made me prepared to handle a variety of professional circumstances.

Q. What advice do you have for current and future WIU students?

Mariah: Between my sophomore and junior year, I ended up taking some time off from school. For me, this was a benefit, because I needed to sort of recharge my batteries. When I returned to WIU, I was more motivated and dedicated, and it absolutely paid off then.

If you are a student who feels stressed or pressured, please understand that everyone’s life is different, and that if you want to progress somewhere, you can do so when the time is right for you.

•••••••••

Although we’re proud that Mariah seemed to enjoy and benefit immensely her time with us here in University Relations this summer, we’re even more proud that she chose Western and she will go forth and represent her alma mater well… yet another WIU Success Story!

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WIU’s Thai Scholars traveling, adjusting to life in U.S.

For 10 high-achieving students from Thailand, a weekend this past February was the beginning of a life-changing adventure at Western Illinois University.

For 10 high-achieving students from Thailand, a weekend this past February was the beginning of a life-changing adventure at Western Illinois University. They are pictured here after they first arrived in the U.S.

Just about five months ago, 10 high-achieving students from Thailand began a new adventure at Western.

The students (all from rural districts in Thailand) are part of the One-District-One-Scholarship (ODOS) program, sponsored by their government, the Kingdom of Thailand. They arrived at WIU in February and were immediately enrolled in a specially developed Western program, Royal Thai Newcomers, which helped prepare them for their English-language studies through the WESL (Western English as a Second Language) Institute.

According to David Bell, WESL director, all 10 of the students have matriculated into the regular WESL program and are now studying English six hours per day.

“They continue to live in University housing, and several of them have requested to have U.S. roommates beginning this fall semester,” Bell said. “They have adjusted well, and their English-language skills have improved greatly in the short time they have been here.”

Once the students are competent in their English-language skills, they will begin their studies in their chosen majors.

This past weekend, Western's Thai Scholars traveled to Chicago with Bell and Dana Vizdal, the assistant director at Western’s Center for International Studies, to meet the Secretary General of Education visiting from Thailand. The Thai Consulate hosted a luncheon for all of the scholars, and after the luncheon, the secretary General also held a private meeting with the students to discuss their academic progress and their adjustment to U.S. culture.

This past weekend, Western’s Thai Scholars traveled to Chicago to meet the Secretary General of Education visiting from Thailand. (They are pictured here with Thai Scholars who are attending other Midwestern universities.) The Thai Consulate hosted a luncheon for all of the scholars, and after the luncheon, the secretary General also held a private meeting with the students to discuss their academic progress and their adjustment to U.S. culture.

“The plan is to provide them with the skills they need to succeed so they can start in their major programs in Spring 2014,” noted Richard Carter, executive director of Western’s School of Distance Learning, International Studies, and Outreach.

This past weekend, the students traveled to Chicago with Bell and Dana Vizdal, the assistant director at Western’s Center for International Studies.

“The purpose of the meeting was to introduce the ODOS scholars to the Secretary General of Education visiting from Thailand. The Thai Consulate hosted a luncheon for all of the scholars. After the luncheon, the secretary General also held a private meeting with the students to discuss their academic progress and their adjustment to U.S. culture,” Carter explained.

Western Illinois University English as a Second Language Institute Director David Bell and Minister of Education Wachira Tirakornvisesphukdi from the Royal Thai Embassy

WESL Institute Director David Bell and Minister of Education Wachira Tirakornvisesphukdi from the Royal Thai Embassy

At the June 15 meeting, in addition to the Thai Scholars from Western, Thai students from several universities in the Midwest region were present, as well as the Secretary General of Education visiting from Thailand, Dr. Nontigorn Kanchanachitra. Also present were the Minister Counselor of the Royal Thai Consulate, Dr. Nantawan Sangton, and the Guidance Office of the Office of Educational Affairs, Dr. Korn Thepnorarat, Carter added.

Learn more about the One-District-One-Scholarship program at thainewsupdate24.blogspot.com/2013/03/one-district-one-scholarship-program.html and more about how the Thai Scholars came to Western at www.wiu.edu/news/newsrelease.php?release_id=10514.

WIU intern in Arizona makes local news

For WIU senior Mandy Alexander (Roseville, IL)—a recreation, park and tourism administration major who, earlier this month, finished up an internship with the town of Gilbert, Arizona—the warm weather and experience would have likely been enough to make her internship experience a memorable one.

But, in late March, a story about her work for Gilbert was published in The Arizona Republic (and on the AZCentral.com website), which provided an added bonus. The story, “College intern revs up Gilbert tourism approach,” talks about her work with a city official there to “improve Gilbert’s regional visibility.”

WIU RPTA Major Mandy Alexander working at her internship in Gilbert, Arizona

Mandy is pictured here with Gilbert’s Parks and Recreation Manager Scott Anderson. Mandy’s work for her internship was featured in The Arizona Republic article, “College intern revs up Gilbert tourism approach.”

Just as her internship was ending, Mandy answered a few questions about how she was able to secure her internship and about how the experience benefited her.

Q). How did your internship in Gilbert come about?
Since I had family in Arizona, I knew I would have a place to stay. Plus, the warm weather in the spring, I knew, would be a huge bonus. I went about this internship by just simply calling as many Convention and Visitors Bureaus, Chamber of Commerces, or any tourism- related businesses in the Phoenix Metro area, and asked if they had any tourism internship positions available. Out of several phone calls and emails, Gilbert seemed to match with my goals the best. This internship lasted from January 13-April 5.

Q). What was the most unexpected experience of your internship?
The most unexpected experience I had during the internship was having to present our Tourism Strategic Plan in front of the town mayor, town manager, all of Gilbert’s Town Council members, manager of economic development, and other higher end positions held within the town.

Q). What about your favorite experience or experiences?
Wow, it is hard to just pick one favorite moment because there were SO many exciting things that happened! I will say I became a regular at Bergie’s Coffee Roast House, which allowed me to meet some extraordinary people and become very familiar with Gilbert’s downtown area. The staff I worked within the Gilbert Parks and Recreation Department were exceptionally wonderful and easy to work with and willing to help me. I am so lucky to come across such a great internship experience.

Q). What kinds of tasks/activities do you do on a daily basis in your internship?
Day one of my internship, I was given a list of 10 goals from my agency supervisor, Scott Anderson. He was hoping I could make headway on this before my internship was over. I successfully completed all but a couple of these goals and the few that haven’t been completed are long term and were not able to be determined before my internship ended. The ten goals in “Scott’s 18-month Tourism Plan” included:

  1. Implement tourism website and maintain operation
  2. Assist in development of mobile app for Heritage District
  3. Assist in development of app for Riparian Preserve
  4. Assist in producing and distributing small wonders advertising guide/map
  5. Meet with Mesa CVB staff and discuss Prop 302 Fund
  6. Purchase Smith Travel report for Gilbert, Arizona
  7. Visitors’ Center (establish a concept) (location-long term)
  8. Develop an “Experience Gilbert Brochure”
  9. Identify 3-5 top advertising opportunities and begin campaign
  10. FAM tour development

Q). How do you think your internship experience will help you in your future career endeavors?
During this internship, I was able to provide Gilbert with a solid tourism foundation and a tentative plan for the future. I have always been passionate about tourism, and this internship was able to give me that full-time experience in the industry that I love. I have learned a great deal about advertising and promotions, professional communication, money management, preparing for presentations and presenting the material, helping develop the brochures and critique websites. These are only some of the many skills I learned in my internship. I believe they set me up with a good solid foundation for future opportunities.

Q). What are you career plans once you graduate?
I am keeping all options open at this point, but I definitely plan on applying for a position within the Town of Gilbert. I do believe I would like to pursue a full time job in Arizona; however, I will seek different opportunities around home as well.