Lack Work Experience? Give Yourself a Job

Designing campus posters led to co-op placement

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Adam Machan

Adam Machan is the poster child for posters. Chances are you’ve seen his work on bulletin boards around campus. As the founder of Adhelp, a U of G organization that offers free graphic design services, he has designed posters and logos for various student groups.

Seeing poorly designed posters on campus inspired Machan, a fourth-year bachelor of commerce co-op student in public management, to start his own graphic design group. There was clearly a need for his services, but, he says, “I didn’t really have that much design experience. I knew I could piece something together if I put a lot of time into it.” He taught himself how to use graphic design programs and sought help online whenever he ran into problems.

The aspiring graphic designer faced the same chicken-and-egg dilemma that many students encounter when they enter the job market: they can’t get an interview – let alone a job – without experience, and they can’t get experience without a job. So Machan gave himself a job by starting Adhelp.

He was his own first client. “All it took was coming up with a name and making a poster saying, ‘We’ll help you get your message out there.’” He meets with clients to determine their needs, designs their poster and then modifies it based on their comments.

As most of his clients are student groups with limited budgets, he decided to offer his services free. Plus, he says, he couldn’t put a price tag on the experience he gained. “It was worth much more in experience than it was in money.”

Machan credits that experience – and his growing portfolio of posters – for helping him land his current co-op placement at Open Text, where he uses his graphic design skills as an online learning developer. “I feel that being able to point to my work completed as part of Adhelp really gave me the edge in landing the best co-op job I have had.”

So what are his poster pet peeves? “The images are squished and they’ll print it off in black and white,” he says, adding that less is more when it comes to poster design. “You don’t want it to be crowded. You really have to be very selective in what you want to say.”

So far, Adhelp has designed posters for the Human Health and Nutritional Sciences symposium, Peace Week and other campus events. As vice-president of the College of Management and Economics Student Association’s Entrepreneurial Society, Machan designed new posters and logos for the group and also manages its Facebook and Twitter pages.

Established in September 2011, Adhelp grew to six members but now consists of Machan and second-year computer science student Frank Liu. They are looking for new members, and Machan is seeking a new leader as he gets busier with school, co-op and extracurricular activities. For more information, contact adhelpguelph@gmail.com.