Northeastern University students Juliette Isaacs (Graphic and Information Design) and Maurins Stubbs (English and Graphic and Information Design) recently had the opportunity to apply their skills – and learn new ones – at co-op positions with Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts (MFA). Maurin and Juliette applied to their co-ops before the start of the pandemic and had to quickly adapt their efforts to meet the changing demands of their job. When the pandemic struck, the MFA, one of the most comprehensive art museums in the world, closed its doors to ensure the safety of its staff, patrons and greater community.
Juliette was originally hired as a Gallery Learning Assistant, and was responsible for preparing and filming instructional arts and crafts videos for young kids (ages 1-12) and coming up with arts and crafts activities for a variety of holidays and events. Once the museum closed its doors temporarily in March, she was switched to a different department at the MFA under a new supervisor. In her new position, she designed booklets and brochures for live virtual exhibition tours under the supervision of the Head of Academic Engagement.
“This challenge due to COVID ended up helping me grow both as a designer, and as a person. I had to jump into a new position quickly and adapt to new conditions” Juliette explained. “It helped me become a quick learner and enhanced my flexibility in the workplace.”
Maurin’s experience was also impacted by the pandemic, but it challenged her to pivot and expand her skill set. She was originally hired to assist in the classroom and help run the workings of the program digitally while in the office. When it became clear that being in-person was not viable for the start of the co-op, Maurin started the position remotely from her family home in Germany.
“This was a really interesting time to come on to a team; mourning the loss of such a smooth-running program was apparent within our speech yet their hope and ideas for how to re-engage was such a joy to be a part of,” Maurin said.
One of her responsibilities during the co-op was having direct communication with patrons about the museum’s new online class offerings. Once the classes were up and running, Maurin was able to sit-in, meet students, and view their artwork as well as offer assistance with technical support.
When reflecting on their time with the MFA both students recall their personal growth while on co-op and the support they received from MFA staff members.
A highlight for Juliette was creating a resource booklet for the exhibit Writing the Future: Basquiat and the Hip-Hop Generation. This booklet allowed Juliette to combine her experience with typography and visuals. “It was an important moment for me as a designer when my project was mentioned during a live virtual tour of the exhibition, with students from across the nation watching” explained Juliette.
Maurin recalls the support she felt from other members on her team.
“My insight was sought after in our personal meetings and in larger staff meetings where I expected to feel small, and was made to feel equally important” she said. She also commented that hearing the student and teacher testimonials only furthered the strong sense of community she felt.
Both Maurin and Juliette felt that their Graphic and Information Design majors helped them to be fully prepared for their work at the MFA. Northeastern classes such as Typography, Graphic Design, and Identity and Brand Design gave both students the confidence to succeed in their work.
“Learning how to incorporate both personal design identity while working with a team of creative people was introduced to me in these classes, that I could use during my co-op working with a professional design team” explained Juliette.
“In addition to my ability to express myself through both speech and writing, my background in the arts and design allowed me to offer advice and insight to patrons of the MFA and its Studio Art classes” added Maurin.
Their co-op experiences are also representative of why they chose to attend Northeastern.
Maurin recalls her interest in Northeastern came because she felt the curriculum allowed her an “immediate window” into paths she could potentially take. She was able to combine her interests of English, Graphic and Information Design with Art History into a plan of study that met all of her needs and passions.
Juliette recollects that she chose Northeastern because she realized the importance of gaining work experience while in college.
Northeastern was the one school I applied to that gave its students the opportunity to gain real-life work experience while maintaining a normal college program/timeline.
To learn more about the Graphic and Information Design program at Northeastern, click here.