Mike Schulz brought his skills as a graphic designer to Grand Valley’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) in 2008 during his sophomore year when he began assisting with efforts to market what at the time was an entrepreneurship minor and certificate.

Schulz was hired as an office assistant when CEI was expanding beyond their capacity as an academic center. As time progressed, and CEI sought to be a hub for entrepreneurship beyond campus and connect with West Michigan, Schulz transitioned into a role as primary marketer and designer.

“One of the things we did in order to connect with the community and create content– so that people knew what we were talking about and how we could help– was create Neu Magazine,” Schulz said. “I made it my internship.”

Schulz spent two days a week at Grand Rapids marketing firm Reagan Design + Marketing, where the team there helped him establish the branding, layout and grid of the magazine.

“It taught me a lot of amazing real world experience,”  Schulz said.  “It was a really great opportunity for me as as student, to be able to walk out with two issues of a magazine that I had worked on.”

Schulz’s experience and ambition paid off. After graduating 2011, he took an internship at Glamour Magazine in New York City, where he was able to apply his experience with Neu. After the Glamour Magazine internship, he landed his first job at a marketing firm where he worked for high-end clients like Redken International. After a year in the Big Apple, Schulz made his way back to the Midwest and moved to Chicago. He now works as a graphic and web designer at mStoner, a strategy design tech consultant company geared toward higher education.

Schulz says that he is able to apply much of what he learned about entrepreneurship at CEI to his career as a designer.

“I definitely learned (that) creative thinking is not just marketing,” Schulz said. “It’s…coming up with amazing ideas to solve issues, whether it is a product or a service. And really, that is what design has become. We are more than just visual designers at this point… it’s creatively thinking ‘how can we make things better?’”

Along with exploring new technologies and mastering new processes with mStoner, Schulz is currently working on a graphic novel and pursuing a Masters in Digital Communication and Media Arts at DePaul University. He intends to someday bring the culmination of his experience and education to the world of academia.

“I want to be a professor. I had a really impactful experience as undergrad and I really learned the value of good teaching, so I would like to teach and give back to the community that way.”