Little did Mason Nelson ’18 expect that including knowledge of Adobe Creative Cloud programs on his LinkedIn profile would lead to a corporate sponsorship for a student organization at Illinois State University.

The partnership between Adobe and the coed, professional business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi began in fall 2017, when Nelson was contacted through his online resume profile about the possibility of serving on Illinois State’s campus as a brand ambassador for the software developer.

After completing an application and interview process, Nelson, established a team of students to help prepare regular, on-campus workshops on Adobe software for their peers. The members cover the basics of navigating the various programs and provide tricks of the trade to help Illinois State students become more comfortable with utilizing the design tools.

Nelson’s involvement with the Adobe Team at Illinois State also took him to California last summer. After applying to the Young Creators program, he was chosen to travel to San Francisco along with other Adobe student ambassadors.

He recalled how, along with his fellow students, he had the opportunity “to tour the Adobe office, meet the product marketing teams, network with each other and Adobe employees, give feedback on the products through a student’s perspective, get trained on the programs, and learn about the upcoming plans that Adobe has.” Additionally, the students made year-in-review presentations about their campus groups.

‘We’ll teach ourselves so we can teach you’

Carrie Happel, a senior integrated Marketing Communication major, now heads Alpha Kappa Psi’s five-member Adobe Team at Illinois State.

“They have this program in about 85 other schools. As Mason graduated (last May), he handed it down to me, and we were able to host five workshops last semester,” Happel said. “We’re all self-taught too. We’re not experts and we don’t pretend like we are, so if we don’t know something we can say, ‘We’re going to get back to you. We’ll teach ourselves so we can teach you.’”

Happel’s interest in Adobe products began as a hobby but since has opened doors for business opportunities.

Although she enjoyed art in high school, Happel did not consider learning about graphic design until she reached college and became apparel chair for her sorority. After passing on her ideas to designers on several projects, she considered the question, “What if I could design them myself?”

From there, she asked someone to help her learn the basics of Adobe Illustrator and then proceeded to continue teaching herself via online resources. Then, as a pledge for Alpha Kappa Psi, she worked on a new business venture for creating Snapchat filters using the program.

“That kind of pushed me to teach myself more because I had a job and a goal to work for. I really just taught myself for that one purpose, and after I learned it, I started doing all these different things with it,” she said.

Before long, Happel started a side business designing T-shirts with her cousin, and now as she moves toward graduation, she feels more confident applying to jobs requiring experience with the Adobe software.

Along with her fellow Adobe Team members, she hopes to equip other Illinois State students with this type of valuable experience.

This spring, the ambassadors are looking to provide lessons on such topics as Photoshop, Illustrator, Lightroom, and creative resumes and portfolios.

“You don’t have to have any kind of experience,” Happel said. “We start from ground zero. If you just have a picture in your mind, you don’t need to be super artistic to create it and that’s the beauty of it too.”

Just as the Alpha Kappa Psi is open to all majors, anybody on campus is welcome to come to the workshops. No registration required for the events. Visit Adobe at Illinois State University to stay up-to-date on upcoming workshops and learn about incentives offered by Adobe Students.

Adobe Brand Ambassadors

During a partnership between Adobe and the coed, professional business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi, students serve on campus as a brand ambassador for the software developer.

Happel also pointed out that students can access Adobe software in the computer labs in the College of Business and can download a free weeklong trial of the various programs if they are interested in practicing their design skills.

“To anyone slightly interested in these programs or who is in business, I would highly encourage you to go to the workshops, learn on your own and be curious,” Mason said. “No matter your major, always be looking for opportunities to add another skill to your resume. I have no doubt that my ability to use these programs has helped me get internships, my current job and countless freelance projects.”

Happel agreed, noting her experience with the software has helped her to achieve positions as a student leader in the College of Business.

“It sets you apart,” she said before describing the value of teaching yourself. “It shows you’re a little more motivated. Teaching yourself something in my opinion is sometimes more valuable than learning something in a classroom because you work on it at your own pace and you have your own kind of motivation.”

“Simply sitting in class for a few hours per day in not enough time to be proficient in a skill,” Mason added. “It requires time, effort, learning up-to-date info from experts, practicing the programs/tools.”

He added that delving into the Adobe software also “shows employers that you can learn complex programs and have practical skills, such as editing an image, making a logo, making a flyer, etc.”

Looking back on the initial catalyst that led to so many great opportunities, Mason, an integrated marketing communication graduate, concluded: “Keep in mind that I was contacted on LinkedIn without applying. There are many students on campus, such as graphic design majors, who have much more traditional experience than I did, yet I was the one who was found. My point is that no matter your skill set, you should always have your LinkedIn, portfolio, resume, etc. updated and available to be found online because you never know who is looking. This was the same process as to how I landed my first job out of college. I was contacted by a recruiter and never had to apply. Put in the time, and it will be rewarded.”