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A Look Inside Furman University’s Portfolio Course in Strategic Design

Last updated February 9, 2024

By Robert Mullikin

For the captivating introduction to season 4 of the Go Further Podcast, host and co-host, McNeill Mullikin and Simran Goel, sat down with the director of the Master of Arts in Strategic Design program, Marta Lanier, to discuss the portfolio course, a cornerstone experience for shaping the trajectory of graduating Strategic Design students. 

In the dynamic world of design, a standout portfolio isn’t just a nice-to-have; it’s often an entry ticket to entry into the industry’s most desired roles. At Furman University, the Master of Arts in Strategic Design program offers a dedicated portfolio course, designed to give second-year students the tools, insights, and mentorship needed to craft compelling portfolios that open doors to their dream careers.

Led by Lanier, the portfolio course stands as a culmination of the students’ journeys, serving as a platform for refining and enhancing their past projects to professional standards. Students have strengthened their design and branding skills through the Strategic Design program and choose 8-10 of the past projects to revamp for their portfolio. What sets this course apart is its focus on the portfolio physically and digitally. Over Strategic Design students’ final semester, their portfolios are meticulously curated to showcase each student’s unique strengths and capabilities.

Unlike the ongoing portfolio development process in other programs, Furman’s portfolio course offers a structured framework where students revisit and refine their work under the guidance of industry professionals serving as mentors. This hands-on approach allows students to not only elevate existing projects but also explore new avenues of creativity and skill development.

One of the course’s distinguishing features is its emphasis on diversity in project selection. Students are encouraged to curate a portfolio that highlights a range of design disciplines, from packaging and social media to experiential design and branding. This diversity not only showcases the depth of their abilities but also ensures that each project resonates with their individual strengths.

Central to the course experience is the one-on-one mentorship sessions with industry professionals, who provide insights gained from their own experiences in the field. These mentors offer personalized feedback, helping students navigate the complexities of the design industry and prepare for the job search process by guiding them with the portfolio creation process.

Throughout the semester, students engage in group critiques and collaborative brainstorming sessions, tapping into the collective expertise of their peers to refine their work further. These interactions foster a supportive learning environment where creativity thrives, and students are motivated to push the boundaries of their craft.

Beyond honing their design skills, the portfolio course equips students with a deeper understanding of their career aspirations and preferences. Through research projects and discussions on working in-house versus in an agency setting, students gain valuable appreciation of the diverse career paths available to them.

As graduation approaches, students present their portfolios to a faculty panel, showcasing their growth and proficiency in the program. This presentation serves as the peak of their graduate efforts, with panelists evaluating not only the quality of the work but also the students’ ability to articulate their creative vision and professional readiness. 

Prepared with polished portfolios and a wealth of industry knowledge, Furman Strategic Design graduates are well-positioned to pursue opportunities in the design industry across the country. Whether in Atlanta, Charlotte, New York, or here in Greenville, their portfolios serve as compelling narratives of their journey and potential, opening doors to a multitude of career possibilities.

If the Master of Arts in Strategic Design portfolio course has grabbed your attention, listen to the full “Marta Lanier – MASD Portfolio Course” to learn more about the semester-long journey the class takes MASD students on. You can also take your first steps toward your creative dream career by clicking HERE to apply for Furman University’s Master of Arts in Strategic Design program.