Sarasota’s Ringling College of Art and Design (RCAD) pledges to bridge the gap between classroom and career path with its new Collaboratory Commitment, an initiative that guarantees every student enrolling in the College beginning in Fall 2015 the opportunity to participate in a professional work experience with real clients, real deadlines and real deliverables prior to graduation.
In the college’s official announcement, RCAD President Larry R. Thompson says that today’s graduates face a “Catch-22” dilemma:
“There is an expectation that, in addition to demonstrated competence in the discipline in which the new graduates were trained, that they will also be ‘practice ready’ professionals. … They have challenges getting a job because they lack experience; at the same time they need to have a job to get that experience.”
A $1 million+ grant from the Patterson Foundation of Sarasota will allow Ringling College
to create a unique institutional model that ensures all students the opportunity to explore an avenue of professional experience that is aligned with their field of study.
Thompson says the college will use the grant to hire new staff, create new programs and expand pre-existing programs to provide industry-specific work opportunities.
“In the past, there were instances where we might happen to have a faculty member who knew somebody and was able to do a project-based thing in their class so that their students would get valuable real world experience with a real client. The problem is that students had to be in that class or in that major to get the experience, so it’s been more episodic than systematic. … What we’re doing now is creating an entire operational system so that we can guarantee that every student will have that opportunity,” Thompson says.
The Collaboratory Commitment will provide all RCAD students relevant work experience through faculty-led Collaboratory charrettes, RCAD Design Center projects with local nonprofit organizations, and film and entertainment industry-focused workshops with industry professionals in the RCAD Studio Lab. It also expands internship opportunities, part-time job positions and freelance work opportunities through the college’s Career Services office.
More than 30 Tampa Bay area businesses are partnering with RCAD in the Collaboratory Commitment.
“One of [RCAD’s] dilemmas is the students who graduate from here tend to leave to go to cities like New York, L.A. or Atlanta,’’ Thompson says. “That’s fine for those who want to do that, but many would like to stay in Tampa Bay area but their problem is finding job opportunities.”
The Collaboratory Commitment, he adds, will help the Tampa Bay region secure the talents of its most creative emerging talent.
“It’s a two-fold thing. On one level, it helps students get the experience, but it’s also a chance for businesses who come in and work with us to find out about how talented our students are, and hopefully to look into hiring them upon graduation,” Thompson says.