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TradeTec internship program educates design students

With McCormick Place welcoming three million visitors each year, Chicago remains a main hub for tradeshows in North America.

Area companies count on exhibit experts like Lombard-based TradeTec to design their tradeshow presence from concept to installation on the show floor. It’s truly an industry where designers and creative minds are challenged every day to come up with the next big idea or innovative design that will propel their client’s brand to the next level.

So, how does TradeTec keep their creative talent fresh? The company partners with design schools to cultivate the perfect team. They regularly provide educational events for college students to accomplish two goals:

1 – Teach graphic design students how to take their education into the real world
2 – Discover talent for their exhibit design internship program.

TradeTec most recently partnered with The Illinois Institute of Art – Schaumburg (ILIA) to provide about 25 graphic design students with the opportunity to learn about putting their creativity to work within the trade show industry.

Chris Ybarra, creative director at TradeTec (and ILIA graduate), coordinated and developed this program. He shared a candid account of his transition from student to professional designer, and lessons learned along the way.

His passion for mentoring students is both personal and professional. He explained, “My driving motivation is to help grow the talent that is developing in the design world, and help students find their career path. Coming here, they can see what it’s like to intern and work in the industry. TradeTec focuses on a culture that fosters creativity and growth so it’s a great fit for design students.”

Dan Hanners, associate professor at The Illinois Institute of Art – Schaumburg, commented, “Many students left feeling inspired. The visit helped them see how they may apply their knowledge and skill in a different way. It was also great for the students to hear from someone who is a Creative Director and has multi-year experience, someone who is a recent graduate, and someone who is interning.”

TradeTec’s design internship programs hosts about four students per year, and TradeTec currently employs three ILIA graduates in various roles.

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