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When I was a sophomore and junior, I heard people talk about APEX but I didn’t fully understand what it was. All I really knew was the classes were not offered at the high school and they enforce a business casual dress code. I was a little hesitant to sign up and break my routine of going to school for all my classes wearing leggings and a sweatshirt, but I’m glad I did! Not only did it help me pinpoint exactly what I thought I wanted to do with my future, but I also was able to gain and apply new skills that can’t be taught in a traditional classroom.  

As an APEX associate working in the Designing Communication Solutions course, we spend half of our time at the Waukee Innovation and Learning Center (WILC) and the other half at our host site, the DLR Group, located in downtown Des Moines by the Pappajohn Sculpture Park. While we are at the DLR group we are able to work alongside business professionals and ask for their feedback on our projects. We also are able to talk with them about the projects that they are working on. They focus on serving clients through helping them renovate and redesign their buildings and getting the most out of their space. Our class works on marketing, creating new graphic designs, and editing videos for our clients, so we are able to talk to people from the DLR Group about their design opinions, which is very helpful.  

During class, we are able to work on our projects almost the whole time we are there. Because not everybody has the same schedule, we have to check in on Trello to let our instructor know where we are and what we are planning on doing that day to keep us accountable. We also have the freedom to work on what we think needs to get done that day, so each day is a little different. Some days I work on my personal brand which includes designing our own logo, resume, business card, and website. Others days I work on my projects for clients which can be editing videos, designing posters or taking photos, and sometimes we have a job shadow or client meeting, as well. Another benefit is the technology that is available for us to use. We have access to cameras, drones, tripods, and much more, which is really fun.

Some projects I have worked on over the course of this semester include creating the Oktoberfest poster for Mrs. Getting. For this project, I had to familiarize myself with Adobe Illustrator in order to complete the design. I had not used Illustrator before, and it was really fun to learn all about the program. After that poster, I designed an invite for a Friendsgiving lunch with DCS and DLR Group workers using Illustrator again, and then my last project was editing a promo video for musician Bruce Day, where I had to use Final Cut Pro, another program I had not yet used before. I also got to job shadow Mandy McWherter at Technology Association of Iowa and Kristine White of Performance Marketing. It was through these experiences that I figured out I want to do something in the Business Management field.

Throughout all of this, I have learned a lot more than just design. I have learned how to write quality emails, how to interact with professionals, and I have gotten better at receiving feedback along the way. I feel more comfortable about entering college now and I know that these skills will help me while I’m there, and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the opportunity to take this class!