Several design students will soon be turning a trained eye on one of the most visible departments on the campus, Dining Services, to help staff draw up a more appetizing marketing strategy.
Walking through the dining halls, students can see an eclectic mix of designs at work — neon lights pull students toward stations at North and South Campus dining halls; a chair is mounted on the wall next to Jalapeño Grill; a butter churner sits above the Commons Shop freezer. But with the help of fresh-eyed designers, the department’s website, posters and fliers may soon receive a facelift, Dining Services spokesman Bart Hipple said. The department plans to remodel office space in the South Campus Dining Hall to give hired design students an improved resource center for revamping the department’s image.
The main goal of the new initiative is to market Dining Services as a brand and build awareness about their healthy food options, sustainability undertakings, menu variety and hours and locations, Hipple said. While the department will make two initial hires — one graphic artist and one student to aid in communication and social media — the team may expand depending on scheduling and students’ productivity.
Dining Services’ graphic designer has had help from students in the past, Hipple said, but not for two years. An updated office is the first step in incorporating a student’s point of view back into Dining Services’ designs, he added.
Remodeling will begin when the department’s facilities and maintenance team finds time to work on the project in between other deadlines, Hipple said. He did not yet know the cost of the remodel or new technology, including hardware and design software, though he said expenses should be minimal thanks to the department installing spare carpet and ceiling tile left over from other jobs.
“The space that has been occupied by the marketing and communications group has not been touched in many, many years,” he added. “We are upgrading the functionality of the space to accommodate current and future needs of our groups.”
Starting pay depends somewhat on skill set and qualifications, Hipple said, but the new-hire rate for student Dining Services workers is $8.25 — plus they’ll receive an extra perk usually reserved for those working in food service: one employee meal per four-hour shift.
Junior English and studio art major Laura Pavlo said she would jump at the opportunity if she didn’t already have a designing job on the campus with the arts and humanities college.
“Students interact with Dining Services every day by simply going into one of the diners on campus,” Pavlo said. “Being a designer for such a huge part of on-campus life would be a great experience for a design student to expand their portfolio, learn how to work for a client and reach out to hundreds of students day in and day out.”
Showing a prospective employer published work, especially a professional project completed for a major university, can help boost a student’s hiring prospects, junior studio art major Katie Pepe agreed.
And although Pavlo found a paying design job on the campus, she said it is incredibly hard for many students to do the same. Freelance work is always an option, she added, but the design field is competitive, and students appreciate chances to expand their portfolios through university employment.
In addition, she said, the department could use this opportunity to improve how it markets itself to students.
“When there is a dining-related event coming up, like the Latino Heritage Month dinner, small fliers are printed and put in the plastic stands on each table,” Pavlo said. “Not to be a cliche design student, but the font choices, colors, pixelated images and other design missteps detract from the point of the ads.”
Junior studio art major Jenn Rothschild hopes Dining Services considers including an option for students to receive internship credit. Otherwise, she said, it may be difficult to spark interest.
“An on-campus opportunity to fulfill this requirement is ideal,” Rothschild said.