Making Valuable Connections

From the Academy to the real-world, WNM alumnus Nic Goodrich shares his Ideate experience

With the academic semester soon coming to a close, Academy of Art University School of Web Design & New Media’s (WNM) semesterly Ideate Conference is preparing for its Spring 2018 edition. Ideate is an opportunity for WNM students to showcase their work, share portfolios with industry professionals for feedback or glean nuggets of wisdom from the industry veterans, who have worked as professional creatives for years.

In the professional world, it can often be tough to get your work in front of people who will give valuable feedback or have the decision-making power to offer employment opportunities. Ideate is a place for all of that. WNM faculty take extra care to bring professionals from major and boutique companies across all stretches of the industry. Facebook, Google, Lyft,, PayPal, Robert Half, ROI DNA and Home Depot were among a few of the names at the Fall 2017 Ideate Conference. 

“[Ideate had] the perfect balance of industry and students. One of the big benefits of Ideate is [the] lasting connection that has led to internships, contract work and full-time hire,” said WNM Director Ryan Medeiros.


School of Web Design & New Media alumnus Nic Goodrich. Photo courtesy of Nic Goodrich.

The Fall 2017 Ideate Conference was no exception. Nic Goodrich is a recent WNM graduate, who finished his degree last fall. He met ROI DNA, a boutique marketing agency, at Ideate and struck a genuine connection with the company’s representatives.

“At Ideate, the initial conversation went really well. They wanted to see some progress of mine that I had to show. I walked them through my process, how I developed ideas, wireframes, sketches,” said Goodrich. “It was the first time I had ever really shown any of my work to professionals in the industry. They called me in for an interview on my last day of school, and I work with the lead visual designer now.”

But Goodrich’s story is par for the course. Many former WNM students hired out of Ideate returned as industry guests to review student portfolios and scout out the next wave of talent from the Academy.

At heart, the Ideate Conference exists to provide students with the invaluable resources intended to support them breaking into the creative industry. The Fall 2017 Ideate Conference featured a panel of Adam Starr, design manager / associate creative director at Uber; Jonathan Cofer, executive creative director at Upwork; Dava Guthmiller, founder and chief creative officer at Noise 13 and Scott Briefer, an industry veteran who is currently lead experience designer / creative director at IBM iX. WNM Visual Design Lead DC Scarpelli moderated the panel as the professionals discussed their career paths, current employers and chipped in their best tips on making it in the world of design. 

“It’s really about who you know—getting new clients, getting referrals—it’s all about the people you know,” said Guthmiller, emphasizing the importance of networking for growing a career. “Keep your clients happy. Good referrals are the best type of incoming work. Eighteen years in, even to this day. Eighty percent of work comes from referrals or personal friends or connections.”


An image from Goodrich’s Fido case study. Image courtesy of Nic Goodrich.


An image from Goodrich’s Sobering case study. Image courtesy of Nic Goodrich.

“At IBM, we’re responsible for getting ourselves on the project that we’re going to be on,” added Briefer. “The only way you’re going to do that is having a network of people who see you, know your work. You’re asking people if you can do anything. In a matter of a project or two, you become essential.”

Goodrich is currently working towards just that feeling of becoming essential. 

“The Academy prepared me very well for the industry,” he shared. “I feel like I’m doing a similar workload in the workplace that I was pushing in school. Props to the Academy for that. The best advice I got was to just get out there. Go out and see what opportunities come at you. And get feedback.”


WNM will be hosting the Spring 2018 Ideate Conference on Friday, May 25.