Melissa Schrenker is a designer, photographer and educator currently designing at the Boston Beer Company and teaching at the Academy of Art University. She has worked in the design field for over 12 years on a variety of design projects ranging from environmental graphics to product packaging. Melissa also runs her own business focusing on small business brand kits, and photography for weddings and lifestyle family sessions. As an educator, Melissa connects with her students to provide honest feedback and strong guidance to help students find their voice and move ahead in their careers with confidence.
Teaching design and being a designer are very different, but doing the work is required to form a baseline to the studies and teach effectively. Building upon the base involves questioning, encouragement, discussions and curious thinking.
When I begin any class with new students, I aim to connect with each individual and learn more about their “why”. Why design? Why this school? Why this class? I want to begin to understand how each student may grow into their future design rolls, and begin to use that knowledge to help them maximize their strengths, while also building their areas of opportunities. While developing their projects, students are exposed to many learning opportunities beyond the class curriculum and I look to broaden their knowledge of not only the design projects, but also the field of design, professional practices, real world examples and those “learn from my mistakes” lessons.
A successful class completion is a diverse group of students that have learned the class requirements, the “what-if” scenarios that stem from those projects and have been empowered to self and peer critique. A strong design team is made up of a range of talents that come together to form a solid design unit working together in harmony. When this begins in the classroom students begin to focus on their strengths, support each other and learn from each other. These traits make them a more valuable designer. The goal beyond their studies is to be employed and to move ahead with the career of their choosing. I maximize their time in the classroom to build these skills to set them up for a successful and self-driven career.