Kelly Phalen graduated this month with a B.F.A. in Graphic Design and a minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She also graduated from the College of Arts & Letters’ Citizen Scholars program.
During her time at MSU, Phalen has had several internships. For almost two years, she has been a Graphic Design Intern at the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at MSU where she was able to combine what she has learned from both her major and minor through her work. She developed both print and digital materials to market their products and services and designed the cards and flyers to promote Burgess Institute events.
Phalen also was a Graphic Design Intern at RJM, a marketing and design agency that designs content for community banks, senior living, K-12 schools, and travel and tourism. There she designed a wide assortment of branding and promotional materials for clients, including the da Vinci Schools campaign.
“I really enjoyed creating a cohesive brand across such a wide variety of projects,” she said. “Having the creative freedoms that I had on the da Vinci Schools campaign, while collaborating with the RJM team and the team at da Vinci, allowed me to grow so much as a designer.”
The first internship Phalen had was with the United Dairy Industry of Michigan where she was a Graphic Design Intern her junior year. There she designed content for social media graphics like Snapchat filters and created more than 125 images to be shared on Instagram. This internship helped her learn the design process of creating print and digital products as part of an in-house design team.
Phalen also worked as a Content Strategist at Gravity Works Design and Development, a company that works with transit, higher education, healthcare, and more.
“Gravity Works was an incredible learning experience. I’ve only taken one class on interaction design and it was amazing to expand that knowledge in a practical way,” Phalen said. “Exploring things from a content perspective also allowed me to expand my skillset and take a stab at a different way to create. Everyone that I worked with at GW was so welcoming and eager to answer my questions.”
“Exploring things from a content perspective also allowed me to expand my skillset and take a stab at a different way to create.”
Back on campus, Phalen has worked at VIM Magazine for the past two years. She began as Co-Art Director for a year and then the following year served as the Senior Art Director for this student-run fashion, beauty, and lifestyle print and digital magazine, which is produced bi-annually at MSU.
“Creating and collaborating with more than 200 amazing members of this organization has been one of the great pleasures of my college career,” Phalen said. “Finding new ways to innovate the design of this publication with my team and the other staffers at VIM is always such an exciting challenge. It pushes me to my creative limits.”
Through experiences like these and through the Citizen Scholars program, Phalen has learned how to work collaboratively in a team.
“Nobody achieves anything alone,” she said. “Everything I’ve worked on has been influenced or inspired by the people around me, and the projects that I’m the proudest of are the ones that took a team to create.”
As a Citizen Scholar, Phalen has learned a lot about the importance of community.
“The Citizen Scholars program has reiterated the importance of having a strong community around. I was constantly inspired by the work that my fellow Citizen Scholars were doing,” she said. “The program also has reminded me of how important it is to be involved in your geographic community. It is so easy to get caught up in work and life and forget about doing service and giving back, but working to bring others up is what makes the world better.”
“The Citizen Scholars program has reiterated the importance of having a strong community around. I was constantly inspired by the work that my fellow Citizen Scholars were doing.”
During her time at MSU, Phalen also has learned the importance of trying new things.
“It’s important to push yourself and get involved in as much as you can,” she said. “The only way you can find what you’re passionate about is by experiencing new things. Of course, it’s important to take care of your mental health, but take on as much as you can.”
After she graduates, Phalen plans to intern with Onemagnify, a marketing and communications agency in Detroit.
“I’m also looking forward to getting involved in new organizations,” Phalen said, “and to expanding my design network.”
(TOP IMAGE: The bus that Kelly Phalen designed for the da Vinci Schools campaign during her time as an intern at RJM.)