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Co-op Profile: Catching Up At Fenway with Josh Svoboda

Josh Svoboda, AMD/DMSB’20. Photo by Adam Glanzman, Northeastern University.

As a “middler” at Northeastern University, Josh Svoboda recently finished up a co-op in the Creative Services department at the Boston Red Sox. As a student, he is pursuing a combined major in Business Administration and Interactive Media – two passions that he has worked professionally with before as a marketing and events coordinator for the D’Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern and as a designer for Scout Studio. Recently, we connected with Josh to learn more about his experience as a Boston Red Sox co-op and how Northeastern has impacted his outlook on the career field. Northeastern University also caught up with Josh, which you can explore here.

Tell us about what you did in your co-op for the Red Sox.

During my co-op at the Red Sox I worked in the Creative Services department, which is the creative arm of the organization. I worked with a small team of three to four other designers to create a wide range of assets, from GIFs and billboards to print materials distributed throughout the front office. I would usually get a few smaller projects to work on each day, and at the same time I would have a larger project or two that would take weeks to complete. 

Gif created by Josh Svoboda.

How did you come across your position?

I came across this position in the Northeastern co-op database. I was surprised that it wasn’t already taken by the time I applied in November, but I put in my application anyways hoping for the best. I ended up getting picked for an interview and portfolio review where I got to go in and talk to my would-be bosses about what the position would entail and what I was looking to get out of my co-op. All the pieces ended up falling in place and they let me know I got the spot just a few days before winter break!

What type of work did your co-op position involve? Any highlights?

My co-op gave me a huge breadth of things to work on, as there are a lot of different needs from around the park that we have to solve. Some days I get to do a lot of logo designs for upcoming initiatives the park may be launching and other times I may be working with Red Sox sponsors to update assets they have in the park. Before I started my co-op I had done mostly print design, but since working there I’ve gotten to learn a lot more about designing specifically for social and digital media, along with making cool GIFs and animations. My favorite project that I worked on was creating a vector illustration style that we could use on our social media. I basically made illustrated graphics of all the well-known players on the team and then animated them into eye-catching GIFs that we would tweet out whenever a player had a good day. It took me about a month to get all of the illustrations and animations right, but it’s the best looking project I got to work on during my time at the Sox. 

Still from gif created by Josh Svoboda.

How did your classes at Northeastern prepare you for your work with the Red Sox?

My design classes definitely helped prepare me for this co-op in ways I couldn’t have foreseen. Learning and understanding more about the design process and how to clearly identify the problem at hand was a key piece of knowledge that I used throughout my entire time at my co-op. I always tried to make sure I knew what problem my design was trying to solve rather than just designing things that I thought looked cool, and before Northeastern that would not have been the case. My co-op class was helpful because it prepared me to go into a more professional environment in which I hadn’t been before. Knowing how to draft emails and interact with higher-ups in the office were essential skills that I’m glad I got to practice.

What has been the biggest learning experience from your co-op so far?

I’m extremely grateful for the co-op experience at Northeastern because it’s helped show me what I do and don’t want out of a future career. My time at the Red Sox provided me with invaluable insight into what it was like doing in-house design for a major sports team that already has an established brand. The biggest challenge I faced throughout my tenure at the Red Sox was how to keep creating new and interesting designs while also fitting into this iconic brand that everyone knows. Sticking to the Red Sox design style while still having to find ways to push the envelope was difficult to say the least, but by the end of my co-op I felt like I was getting the grasp of how to do just that. I’ve learned I want to move more into the strategy area of marketing; something that I think my design background will definitely help me succeed in. I wouldn’t have figured that out without getting to work for the Red Sox.

Your major is Business Administration combined with Interactive Media – how do the two work together?

I love my major because in the future, and especially in the marketing field, I believe it will be important to be multifaceted. I’m learning how to make smarter and better designs, but I’m also learning about general marketing and other business fields, which is something that makes me very adaptable in the workplace. There were times in meetings that included people from both the creative and business sides of the organization where I was able to keep up, thanks to my varied background. I also think that the creative mindset that I’ve picked up from design is increasingly essential in the business and marketing world where learning how to differentiate yourself from competitors is an important factor in being successful. 

How do you think your co-op experience can be applied to your Northeastern education? After you graduate?

Because of my co-op experience, I can now reevaluate all of the classes I’m taking and clubs I’m participating in to make sure I’m headed on the right track for what I want to do when I graduate. Making these refinements to my schedule and extracurriculars will help set me up better for my future, and without co-op I probably would not known if I were doing all of the right things or not. I plan on being a project lead for Scout, our student-led design studio, in the fall where I will be able to gain more leadership experience and work on broadening my skillset. I also plan on taking more advantage of programs Northeastern offers to students, such as study abroad and the CAMD College Honors, to get more hands-on experience in my field and interests. After I graduate I can draw on all of the experience co-op has given me to show to employers that I’ve already had the chance to work in the marketing field and figure out what I want to do. I’ll have gained the skills and insight that you can only get after working at a company, which is why I think the co-op program is so important and helpful in helping Northeastern graduates land jobs.