Recent Southeast Tech Graduate Returns to School at 30 to Follow Passion - Southeast Technical Institute

Recent Southeast Tech Graduate Returns to School at 30 to Follow Passion

Wednesday, May 22, 2019
Internship Leads to Full-Time Career

James Using Large Format Printer

Making a career change is a big deal, but Southeast Tech graduate James Haight not only decided to take the leap – he excelled. Haight, who graduated this spring, was hired on full-time after his internship and won a major contest along the way.

After a string of unfulfilling jobs, Haight decided to return to school at age 30. He has always been creatively inclined and wanted to benefit from that and find a career choice he would be happy with.

And he discovered Southeast Tech’s media design program.

“Media design lets me focus around creative problem solving, which I love,” Haight said. “It requires the ability to take thoughts and ideas from a client or instructor and create a project or design that meets or goes beyond their expectations.”

He added that Southeast Tech was a good choice for him because its culture and atmosphere have been supportive and inclusive from the get-go. “After attending JumpStart (orientation) and speaking with the instructors, I knew they would help me be successful,” he said.

“I've been exposed to so many new things I never knew I would be capable of: logo design, composition, animation, web design - the list goes on. It opened many doors for me and has created a future I didn't think was possible for myself,” Haight said.

Haight started the program in fall 2017, and, by the end of his first year, he knew he wanted to pursue web design. He applied for and accepted an internship at Sandhills Publishing and The Gage team of Sioux Falls where he worked during the summer and through his second year of the Media Design program.

He says the internship helped strengthen his skills.

“As much knowledge as I acquired during my studies, it doesn't always stand up to real-world applications. My work experience has helped me grow and develop my talents in ways I couldn't have imagined,” Haight said.

Southeast Tech instructor Richard Warkenthien echoed similar sentiments.

“James has strong design and illustration skills and has greatly increased his knowledge of HTML, CSS, content management systems, frameworks and his problem-solving abilities during his second year,” Warkenthien said.

It was that talent that won Haight a design competition through the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). His artwork will be used on all HLC communications about their annual conference in 2020.

Haight’s design was chosen from dozens of submissions created by students, faculty and staff members at HLC-affiliated institutions. HLC staff selected three finalists, and the public chose the winner in an online poll.

“I was given a classroom assignment based on the HLC art contest guidelines. We were to complete a design based on their criteria, but were not required to enter the contest,” Haight said. “Media Design Instructor Anthony Conrad encouraged me to enter my art. I did, and I won!”

What’s next for James? A full-time job at Sandhills Publishing and The Gage team of Sioux Falls – the same company he started interning at after his first year.

“I'm really looking forward to starting my career and continuing to grow. Because if there is anything I have learned while attending Southeast Tech, it would be that we never stop learning or changing. I'm excited to see the designer I become,” Haight concluded.

Categories: Alumni, Feature, Industry


Dawn Olmstead said on 6/4/2019:
Impressive that STI was able to bring out the best in this talented student! Congratulations to James Haight and STI! Well done!

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