Instructor Spotlight: Brad Koyak

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Here at Laurus College, we like to spotlight some of our amazing instructors. All our classes are presented in real-time meaning you’ll be interacting live with your instructor. Get to know Brad Koyak, a Web Design Instructor.

Portrait of brad Koyak
Self-Portrait of Brad Koyak

How did you get started in web design?

In the early 2000’s I was going to school at the International Academy of Design & Technology (IADT) in a graphic design program. At that time there wasn’t much of a web design degree. When I was 3 years in they started a web design program but it was very small. In 2004 I graduated with a BFA in Advertising and Graphic Design.

After graduation, I did freelancing for a while. Doing freelancing often leads you into related fields and I started to branch into photography and eventually web design. During this time I also went back to school for a Masters of Science in Curriculum and Instructional Design from American Intercontinental University (AIU). I worked with the Illinois Institute of Art developing curriculum while doing freelancing on the side.

Working in Web Design

Eventually, my brother and I decided to start a company named Inductive Designs. We picked up a few large clients in the Chicago area such as Nissan truck and forklift, LMN Industries, and Easy Glide Draft Blocker. We did package design, trade shows, websites, and more. Eventually we got the attention of a publishing organization called News Media Corp.

It turned News Media Corp was losing advertising business to us. In 2012 they bought us out and hired us to start up their digital division including newspaper, digital advertising, and web building. Because of my background in curriculum development, I got moved into training and picked up a second MS in educational psychology from Capella University. News Media Corp wound up moving me out to California to manage several small local papers before moving to The McClatchy Company to run their digital marketing department for a few years. I’ve always loved training and teaching so when an opportunity came along to teach at Laurus College I applied right away.

What do you do when you aren’t teaching?

I’m a dad. That’s pretty much it for my free time! My two favorite things to do are teach and play with my three kids. We’re constantly going places and doing things. I guess you could say being a dad is my hobby. Franklin Hot Springs is my favorite place to take them. It’s a great inexpensive and low-key place to go.

Logo designs for Red King Publishing by Brad Koyak
Logo designs for Red King Publishing by Brad Koyak

Why should someone choose the web design program?

The web has changed. We don’t build websites anymore. Every business already has a website. Now the job is to improve the site flow and feed traffic. Content creation has become a huge part of modern web design. Creating blogs, images, infographics, videos, and other content can be a great artistic expression and avenue. Web design allows you to work with so many different things. Our job is to keep them engaged with the brand and entertain them. There’s a lot of opportunities. Whether it’s Facebook ads, blogging, tweeting, tik-toking, etc. Celebrities who have never been on television or movies can be household names. We know who these people are because of their online presence. Web design today is about inventing and building a persona for a person or brand. It’s creative, expressive, and fun!

What do you like about Laurus College?

I attended school online myself. Capella used Blackboard and AIU used pre-made recordings with PowerPoints. I saw the opportunity for something different here at Laurus. I love how classes are live and we can do live interactions with students that are completely different from other online schools. Laurus is the closest students can get to being in a classroom without actually being in a classroom.

“Laurus is the closest students can get to being in a classroom without actually being in a classroom”

Now that I’ve been here for three years I still love teaching live. I think it’s so unique to be able to reach students and it’s great to have a lot of opportunities to do one-on-one with students. We can stick with the same students throughout their entire time at the college. We get to help students reach their potential and mentor them towards doing what they want to do. Laurus College is one of the only schools that allows students to work directly with instructors even if they don’t currently have a class with them.

Another thing I like about the school is that our motto: Together We Succeed. Usually, a motto is just something a company puts on a pen. Laurus isn’t like that. We have tech support all day long, student services, tutoring workshops, one-on-one tutors that are program-specific. That motto is really how we operate. Students can always get someone on the phone to help. Instructors and support staff move mountains to give students what they need to succeed. At a state school, the chances that an instructor knows your name is slim-to-none. Here I know all my students by name.

Spectre Security Digital Ads by Brad Koyak
Spectre Security Digital Ads by Brad Koyak

What do students need to be successful at Laurus College?

To be a successful student a Laurus the most important thing is communication. We have so many resources available but those resources are only there if you use them. Students have to be an active participant in their experience. There are clubs, organizations, and networking opportunities, but if you don’t actively engage it won’t benefit you. College isn’t a passive experience. You will get out of it what you put in. Someone who engages and stays in contact will get the most out of their experience.

“Getting engaged with instructors and using the resources is the best way to be successful.”

When you attend school for web at Laurus College you have instructors with a lot of resources and information. Unfortunately, we only have so much time in the day. We’re available to students but you have to take the initiative to contact us and schedule time. Getting engaged with instructors and using the resources is the best way to be successful.

In addition, always be working on something. If you approach the whole program and every final as a portfolio piece you’ll wind up with a lot of great experience. This is a highly competitive field that is based on your work, not your resume. Put as much effort as possible into your projects and make them portfolio ready.

What advice would you give someone about to graduate?

Start talking to your instructors and line up mock interviews. Interviews for design jobs are different than standard interviews. Work with instructors to prepare for it. Put a lot of effort into your portfolio and work with your instructors to make it great. Get them to approve your work, make edits, etc. Find a mentor that can guide you through graduation. It’ll help you enter the workforce ready to work.

“Feedback is an opportunity to improve, not an insult.”

Always be the best worker in the room. Do a lot of listening when you first start. Feedback is an opportunity to improve, not an insult. Finding a job doesn’t mean your done learning. You’ll need to continue to learn. For example, try staying involved in pop culture so you can leverage it. 

Hart Family Chiropractic Ads by Brad Koyak
Hart Family Chiropractic Ads by Brad Koyak

What are you working on for the future of the Web Design Department?

Whiteboard interviews. The idea for this one came from a student. Potential employers give you a problem and expect you to map out your process to solve it. Employers want to see how you think, how you map things out, and how you plan. We’re planning on doing mock interviews and whiteboard challenges with current students and alumni. We want them to see what it’s like to do an interview in the design field and the kind of skills employers are looking for.

Want to learn more?

Learn more about Brad Koyak in his Portfolio at Spectre Graphics. Visit the Web Design Department page to learn more about our Associate of Science and Bachelor of Science degrees at Laurus College. If you’re ready to start your journey as a Web Designer or you want more information about Laurus College check out our admissions page and get in touch with us today!

 

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