Michelle F. Fitzpatrick

Michelle F. Fitzpatrick

We help students take their natural creative ability and turn it into a polished talent at its best. When our students graduate they will have reached a level of creativity that never fails to impress. As an instructor, I feel proud and privileged to be a part of that process. Michelle F. Fitzpatrick , Fashion Instructor
, The Art Institute of Charleston, a branch of The Art Institute of Atlanta
Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

I spent over twenty years in the business field. When I noticed that the processes and sales techniques I built my success around were being copied by my competitors, I knew I had the creative ability to make people interested in what I was selling. But I first realized my creative destiny as a teenager who loved to put outfits together. That passion has continued throughout my life.

How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?

I use the depth and breadth of my experience in presenting material to students. Experience is the best teacher, and I believe it gives students a better grasp of the challenges and opportunities in the industry. We explore the best ways to handle various real-life situations. These discussions are fantastic learning tools that get students thinking and solving real industry problems and challenges.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

I focus on assignments that help students improve their real-life work skills. My Human Resources Management students submit a resume and cover letter, along with a three-minute “elevator speech” for networking. We practice for job interviewing with questions actual employers have asked job candidates. I want students to be the most polished, prepared candidate for any job they go after.

How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?

Rarely is anything done in a vacuum in the business world. Everyone is expected to work together and make a contribution. Teamwork matters because each of us brings different talents and skills to the table—all of which may be needed to create the best possible solution. As they say, “A whole is only as good as its parts.”

What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?

Professionalism. I expect my students to learn how to talk, write and behave professionally. To be able to relate well with others, and have great communication skills. You may be a genius, but if you can’t communicate and relate to others, your skills and talents are useless.

What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?

Show up and do your best every day. And never be afraid to try new things. Sometimes creative professionals have to stick their necks out and go for the unexpected. And remember, it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.