When you’re young with a dream to do anything in life, it’s always great to have mentors and experts to help show you the way. That’s why we were more than happy to help when Chiara Robustellini of the association L’Aquilone called us to help launch Graphic Design and Communication students at Don Milani technical high school, in the nearby city of Tradate, on a real-life work-study project.
For the project, over 90 students in the Graphic Design and Communication sections at Don Milani were tasked with building a communication strategy for Case Affido, a foster home network (also managed by L’Aquilone), to help raise awareness and uptake in the local area.
What’s notable about this project is that it’s not just a school exercise. “This is a real job, said Chiara. “The clients are the representatives from the foster homes and the students’ work is really going to be used, shared and publicized.”
In October Moskito Design Art Director Iris Ranzani met with Chiara Robustellini to construct a 4-hour workshop that combined theory and practice and laid the foundations for the development of the student projects.
The theory presented how we work at Moskito Design: every step of the creative process from brief to delivery and the roles and contributions of the various teams along the way.
“It’s basically what we do every day in the agency,” said Iris. “For the students it’s necessary to start with all that because at that age you don’t have a clear idea about what work in an agency is really like.”
For the practical section, students were divided into groups and each was expected to function as a mini-agency, with roles including project managers, art directors and others. Iris then led them through the initial steps of the project, beginning with a client interview.
“We gave each group a worksheet to help them compile their brief,” said Iris. “And just to make it more realistic, I told the client ― representatives from the foster home network ― not to give away all the details right away. It forced to the students to ask questions to find out what they needed to know.”
Thinking like professionals
But when it came to questioning, these students didn’t need much prodding. “One of the things that amazed me most is that in their questions many of them were already way ahead,” said Iris. “They were already thinking like professionals!”
Subsequent steps involved keyword research based on texts provided by the client, brainstorming, defining the target and budget.
“I was impressed how many of them were naturally very conscious of how different communication channels would be better adapted for different audiences,” said Iris. “It was clear that some of them already had a vision that was more creative, or more strategic, or both.”
Finally, they began to develop a schedule for the project, working backwards from the deadline, based on examples of real case studies from Moskito Design.
“In the end the workshop with Iris went great,” said Chiara. “Four hours, really intense. The students were fired up ― and their prof even more!”
“Chiara was a big help,” added Iris. “You can tell she’s got a lot of experience at this. She was good at helping me make sure the presentation was at the right level for the students, and that the pace and change of the activities was balanced to keep everybody stimulated and on task for four hours straight.”
The project now launched
Each team is now in the process of putting together their own project, including a variety of media: videos, posters, a comic strip, and installations, each according to the strengths of the group.
“They’re really doing amazing work,” said Chiara. “And they’re especially learning by doing. This is the added value for the project: working side by side with experts who can share their knowledge and experience.”
Project: Giovani di Valori
The communication project for the foster homes is part of a larger, two-year project called Giovani di Valore (meaning “young people of value”) aimed at bridging the gap between youth and the world of work. The project, which pulls together contributions from many local public and private entities, offers defined project-based work-study programs as well as help for young entrepreneurs starting off, scholarships, internships and more.
“Giovani di Valore and L’Aquilone are experimenting with a concrete new way of doing school work-study programs,” said Chiara. “It’s real work where the kids can experiment, make a contribution and test themselves in the context that’s still guided, but real. And we’re getting confirmation that these kids know how to do it, and that the problem is sometimes only that as adults we’re too overprotective and don’t let them.”
Making an impact
From the Graphic Design and Communication students at Don Milani to the children and families that benefit from the foster home, the project has the potential to make the difference in lots of lives.
“It’s really gratifying because you realize the impact you might have on these students’ lives,” said Iris. “I loved that during the break a number of them came to ask me questions about my background, for recommendations about what to study and where. For a moment I really realized what it means to be a teacher ― the impact you can have, as well as the responsibility you have. It’s amazing the trust they put in you.”
And Chiara added, “From the point of view of the foster homes it’s even better that 19-20 students are working on this project, getting to know them and spreading awareness through their work and their experience. The school project is letting them help introduce the foster homes to other students as well as to the teachers that see and talk to these kids.”
“These young people have been a real treasure to the foster homes, and really enriched them. Because now the foster homes are able to see through the eyes of these young people ― and they’re discovering a whole new world.”
At Moskito Design we love to help great young designers and marketers grow ― both inside our office and outside as well.
[Photos courtesy of Chiara Robustellini]