Ryan Smith – Web Design Specialist at The Web Guys

Where is he now?

Ryan Smith is a 2007 Ball State Journalism Graphics graduate and currently works as a Web Design Specialist at The Web Guys of Carmel, Indiana. Throughout his career, Smith has had the opportunity to work on some innovative design projects, one of which was nominated for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize. Since graduation, Smith has worked as a designer at The Times-Picayune and Centaur Gaming, and now develops websites and other large products for clients nation-wide. 

Ryan Smith’s Favorite Experiences & Achievements

We spoke with Ryan about his exciting experience as a working professional, which began at the Times-Picayune in New Orleans. During this time, New Orleans was the focal point of two hard hitting hurricanes. “The news doesn’t stop for natural disasters; it picks up,” Smith explains. While others evacuated, he stayed behind to report the events taking place. For five exhausting days, he worked around the clock from his office. The stories he covered throughout that time made local and national news.

In 2008, Smith worked alongside a reporter and a photographer to publish the impactful story, “Homicide 37: Seeking Justice for Lance”. This eight-day series covered the murder of a 17-year-old boy of New Orleans and the ways in which crime and drugs continue to consume the city’s youth. The story was nominated for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize. 

How Ryan Smith’s Journalism Degree Helps Him in His Career.

While working toward his journalism degree at Ball State, Smith recalls the many group projects he was assigned in class. These experiences at the University prepared him for the workforce as a project leader with initiative and confidence. His ability to improvise and redirect focus during moments of chaos granted him many opportunities to work on large stories and vast projects.

In his current line of work as a web developer, Smith’s journalism skills continue to shine. A large portion of his job relates to customer service by helping clients design custom websites through storytelling. He helps them communicate their story on their website for customers to understand what makes them special.

As the Journalism Graphics industry becomes more web-based and data-driven, there’s  focus directed to data visualization for specific target audiences. According to Smith, every industry needs people to take their data and present it to people in an engaging way who may not be able to understand the data otherwise. His journalism degree gave him the ability to ask the right questions and be personable while doing so. He has the skills to research clients, strategize what is best for them, and display the information in an engaging way; skills that individuals without a journalism background may often struggle with.

Advice from Smith:

  1. Don’t wait for your school, or professors, to provide internship opportunities to you. There are so many opportunities available to you whether that is small side jobs, summer internships, year-long internships etc. Look for opportunities and build your experience.
  2. Learn outside of the classroom. Find outside projects you are passionate about or are interested in and use your free time to build your portfolio and excitement for the profession.