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InterviewApr 18, 2024

Volunteer of the Month: Emma Hodgson Provisional RGD

Interview with Emma Hodgson Provisional RGD, York University

This May, the RGD thanks Emma Hodgson Provisional RGD for her contributions to the RGD community.

“Emma has been a part of the Project-Based Mentorship Team since its inception back in 2022. She is always keen to contribute her insights, her help with the various different tasks and has supported the initiative in a multitude of different places. I look forward to collaborating with Emma on other RGD initiatives in the future.”
Rupsha Mutsuddi Provisional RGD

How long have you been volunteering with the RGD and in what capacity?

I’ve been volunteering with the RGD since January 2023! In late 2022, my friend and Master of Design colleague Rupsha Mutsuddi Provisional RGD invited me to join the Provisional Committee. Since joining, I’ve served as part of the team that developed and recently launched the RGD’s new Project-Based Mentorship Program. I also had the pleasure of volunteering at DesignThinkers Toronto this past November.

What experience stands out for you?

I’m quite proud of the Project-Based Mentorship Program we’ve put together. A few years ago, I participated in the RGD’s long-standing, one-on-one mentorship program. It was a great experience for me. My mentor helped me develop my portfolio and offered advice that made me excited to enter the industry. 

The Project-Based Mentorship Program differs in that it brings together Student, Provisional and Certified RGDs to collaborate on a mock project. This allows for mentorship at multiple levels, where the Student acts as a junior designer, the Provisional acts as an art director and the Certified RGD acts as a creative director. In designing this new program, our intention was for each team member to benefit from participation. For emerging designers, it provides a supportive environment working on an industry-level, portfolio-boosting project. In particular, I think the role of the art director offers Provisional's a really great chance to practice leadership, giving feedback and mentoring.

What is the most surprising thing to come out of volunteering with the RGD?

Something that surprised me was how, as soon as I started volunteering with the RGD, I felt instantly part of a community.

What have you learned about the industry since volunteering for the RGD?

Having gone from my undergraduate degree in the York/Sheridan Program in Design, straight into my Master’s, I’m just now shifting my focus to the industry. Volunteering for the RGD, though, has been a great introduction to it. Especially at DesignThinkers, everyone I met was very kind, genuine and interested in having rich conversations. The RGDs who have guest-spoken at Provisional Committee meetings have also offered a lot of insight into building a career in design. My biggest take-away from these presentations has been the importance of stepping out of your comfort zone regularly to learn and grow.

Based on your experience volunteering with the RGD, how would you describe the role of the organization in the industry?

From the perspective of an emerging designer, I think the RGD brings together designers interested in building community, improving different aspects of the industry and pouring into future generations. I never realized how many experienced designers are open to mentoring those entering the field, and it’s something I really appreciate.

What have you gained from being an RGD volunteer and why would you recommend it to other members who might be thinking of getting involved?

Friendships, professional connections, insight and rewarding experiences are all things I’ve gained from being an RGD volunteer. Meeting and building relationships with others who are passionate about the practice of design, as well as contemporary issues in the discipline, is very special. If someone is thinking of getting involved, I’d say go for it! It’s never too late to get involved and, in my experience, it’s always been worth it.

Do you have thoughts on what you might like to do as a volunteer with the RGD in the future?

My time in academia, both as a student and as a teaching assistant, has fostered in me a passion for quality design education. As I grow in my professional experience, I’d love to join education initiatives, mentor students and one day serve as a judge in the Student Awards. At present, the Provisional Committee is doing important work that I’m honoured to be part of.

Emma Hodgson

York University

Emma Hodgson is a graphic designer, design researcher, artist and Master of Design candidate at York University in Toronto, Ontario. She is currently in the second year of her degree and TAing in the Design at York program. Emma’s research for her master’s thesis incorporates design history, science and technology studies, feminist theory, parody branding and the history of athleisure to critique everyday self-optimization practices and the ideals that they promote.

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