When she joined the Faculty of Arts and Design at Egypt’s October University for Modern Sciences and Arts, Tuqa Islam never imagined her designs of food company logos could take her straight into the labour market. Now a major company has asked her to redesign the advertising logos for its products.
Islam and four fellow students won that opportunity through an initiative between their university, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, and Egypt’s Chamber of Industries. The initiative links students with the labour market through internships, which lets them gain practical experience in areas like creating designs for food companies.
Practical Experience for Students
October University for Modern Sciences and Arts, also known as MSA University, is a private university located in 6th of October city, a suburb of Cairo.
Islam, who graduated from the university two months ago, told Al-Fanar Media that her experience began in 2020 when she saw an advertisement at the university inviting students to participate in a competition to redesign the advertising brands of several food companies.
“The initiative reflects the university’s desire to introduce new ideas to the curricula and integrate college students into the labour market through coexistence and training so they will not be surprised by reality after graduation.”Tarek Saleh, Head of the Faculty of Arts and Design of October University for Modern Sciences and Arts
Islam seized the opportunity. Under the supervision of her professors, she devised a work plan to research the required design and its purpose.
The work took more than a year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In that period, she and more than 30 fellow participants submitted their designs for new logos for several companies. The competition administrators later informed her that she and four other students had won and that their designs would be used by five food companies.
Ayman Khaled was another winner. “I worked on designing an advertising logo for a company that exports vegetable and fruit products,” he said. “It was a wonderful experience which gave me the chance to work with an established company.”
When he applied for an advanced internship at a company after graduating a few months ago, company officials praised the designs he did for the university competition.
Experiencing the Labour Market
Tarek Saleh, head of the Faculty of Arts and Design at MSA University, says that the initiative reflects the university’s desire to introduce new ideas to the curricula and to integrate students into the labour market through cooperative programmes and training so they will not be surprised by reality after graduation.
“The university signed a cooperation protocol with the Egyptian Ministry of Trade and the Industrial Modernisation Centre,” he told Al-Fanar Media. “The centre linked the college with companies who wished to change their products’ advertising logos with innovative designs, which is usually done by experts in the field.”
The college organised the competition after receiving a list of nominated companies. Five students’ designs met the companies’ needs.
A Pioneering Experience
Saleh sees the initiative as a pioneering experience, unprecedented in Egyptian universities. “This experience enabled us to achieve gains for all. It gave students’ practical experience while at university, while companies got inexpensive professional designs. It also promoted and developed national industry.”
“In the past, students did not engage with the labour market until after graduation and would have found it quite different from their university studies. … This experience should be repeated in all Egyptian universities.”Ahmed Gaber, Head of the printing and packaging division of the Federation of Egyptian Industries
Besides the winning students, the project produced 300 designs in product packaging and logos for brands of several food companies.
Ahmed Gaber, head of the printing and packaging division of the Federation of Egyptian Industries, said that “current work requirements have forced us to change the traditional study model, and prompted us to cooperate with the university to give students experience of the labour market during their studies.”
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He added: “In the past, students did not engage with the labour market until after graduation and would have found it quite different from their university studies. Now what students are producing is no less efficient and accurate than the work of established design and advertising companies. This experience should be repeated in all Egyptian universities.”
A New Project
The next step is for the university to implement a new agreement with the Ministry of Trade and Industry for the 2022-2023 academic year. The university has agreed to provide website development and design services for several sectors, including the textile industry, handicraft and heritage industries, the molasses industry, the furniture industry, and the food industry.
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