For Education / Student Testimonials

  • Rob is that rare breed who genuinely listens and will do anything in his power to help you succeed. He has a true talent for making you feel like what you think and do are not only valid, but also important. I’ve never met someone who is so willing to share all of his knowledge and expertise. Rob is selfless, and giving—not to mention talented—and I am undoubtedly a better designer after knowing him.

    – Sarah G, BFA Graphic Design

  • Every time I had a conversation with Rob, I left with new information that led me to new concepts and processes for my own work. Rob helped me with my portfolio, website, and talked to me about jobs where my work could be applicable, which in turn landed me a great job right out of college. Working with Rob is very unique; I think it stems from him being an artist so other artists relate to him right away. The most valuable advice was about sticking with what I enjoy and continue to work hard towards my goals, even if it's not what other people want me to do. I also think that just speaking to Rob about anything you can imagine, will end up being valuable to you in one way or another. Rob Funderburk for president!

    – Ben M, BFA Graphic Design

  • Being an entertainer who is scattered and messy, I had no organizational skills. After just three meetings with Rob, I had a website that embodies professionalism. He has introduced me to many Chicago scenes/venues that could help me soar. I have gained so much knowledge from Rob. He has guided me with an objective, cool, and sincere approach to really helping me stand as an artist. When leaving his office, I feel affirmed in my professional career.

    – Alexis C, Music Business

  • Rob started helping me with my overall portfolio, and ended up helping me develop some personal projects as well as preparing for the Weisman Award (and actually won the award). One reason I liked talking with Rob was because he genuinely cared and listened. Rob had many good references at hand and always tried to connect me with other people he felt could help in my career. He can see untapped potential, and helps you realize and develop it.

    – Jeremy B, BFA Graphic Design

  • What is unique about Rob is his willingness to go the extra mile for me/us as students to make sure we are aware of different avenues we can take not just in our careers, but also in our personal journeys as artists. I am witness to how he can introduce a clear vision of next steps, and how to perfect my portfolio, branding, websites, business cards, etc, to be recognized as a growing creative professional. I also think his patience is very unique, because it's not often you find someone who is very knowledgeable about creative fields and doesn't sound condescending. What is most valuable in working with Rob is his knowledge, selflessness, and natural ability to educate. Every time I meet with Rob, I have a great feeling because I know more than before and have a clear direction what I need to do to have a successful portfolio and everything that goes with it.

    Rob is much more than just a person to go over your portfolio with. When you want your car fixed, you don’t go to AT&T, you go to the best mechanic there is—who knows what they are talking about, and doesn’t make you feel as if you've been had. When it comes to Rob, he's the best and I can tell he wants the best for us as students and creative minds.

    – Jeremy W, Graphic Design

  • I came to Rob when I was in a total bind and failing to meet expectations for a project. Although I was distressed, Rob's demeanor was sincere, proactive, and helpful in the most supportive way. Within minutes, Rob created an atmosphere where we could collaborate together to find solutions to a problem that seemed insurmountable. Rob pulled out a sketch-pad, rolled up his sleeves, and jumped into my project by my side in a way that no educator has. He asked the right questions and spared any judgment. From our first meeting, it was clear that Rob is there to impact students' lives in a genuine way.

    Rob didn't treat me like a student with a project; he treated me like an adult living a complete life. He helped me identify existing successes and strategize next steps to help my work grow. Rob was able to give a big picture perspective and context to the work. After two degrees and working as an educator myself, I was ready to transition out of the student role completely. However, Rob was able to slip seamlessly into a mentoring role. I couldn't have told you how much I needed one more lesson. He is cool. He shows a genuine interest in students. He isn't hokey, condescending, or going through the motions. I'm really glad I had a chance to work with Rob Funderburk.

    – Kelsey H, MAM Business & Entrepreneurship

  • Rob offered thorough explanations in each session that encompassed a tailored approach towards my goals. Rob's candid style and passionate demeanor gives a great confidence to achieve the best practices in preparing for post-college life. Rob is a resource machine with the best part of that being all of the resources he mentions are geared towards your practice and future plans. What a great educator, artist, and peer to Columbia and the arts community!

    – Alex M, MA Interdisciplinary Arts

  • I was recommended to speak with Rob by Ivan Brunetti. Rob has a very practical, yet poetic way of speaking. It was very obvious that he was creating his own body of work and still thinking as a practicing artist. As an illustration major, nothing was more precious than getting advice from a working illustrator.

    Rob was not afraid to tell me the things I needed to work on, from my branding to my portfolio. Rob is a kind, thoughtful, and friendly person, who went above and beyond any duties he had in his positions. I recommended Rob to anyone I could. I seriously did not see the importance of the portfolio center until our first meeting. I might be on a different path if it wasn't for him. Currently, I work in art restoration and I am a freelance illustrator and fine artist. I am very thankful for being able to cross paths with such a thoughtful artist.

    Rob was amazing at pointing out strength and weaknesses. On a bad day, Rob made me feel good about myself and gave me great feedback on how to keep pressing forward and treat myself as a businessman. He absolutely inspired me to create and extrapolate on my current ideas. When I run into someone attending art and design at Columbia I immediately tell them to visit Rob.

    – Matt W, Illustration

  • I visited Rob in my freshmen year and showed him some work. He quickly gave me insightful, considerate, and constructive feedback. I’ve been visiting him ever since. He's a big picture kind of guy; he sees how a product or service plays out in a larger economy and more importantly how to accent the strengths and compensate for the weaknesses. One time I came to Rob with an idea and although it wasn't at a "marketable" stage, he listened and gave me the exact advice I needed to really create it.

    – Luke S, Product Design / Environmental Studies

  • Rob has helped me so much — from critiquing my website, to helping me translate to my audience more effectively, to sharing personal anecdotes to guide me as I walk down a similar artistic path. Whenever I meet with him, I leave filled with more knowledge. He even sends a follow-up email with our notes! I have recommended so many students to meet with him. I feel like Rob legitimately cares about us students. He is definitely one of my mentors. It's nice to have an extremely down-to-earth and humble professional to talk to. A lot of working artists can be egotistical… but Rob is so genuine. It is refreshing.

    – Kayla N, BFA Fine Art

  • The first time I met with Rob I was in my first year at Columbia as a transfer student going into my junior year. At the time, I didn't even know what branding was, and he showed me how to properly brand and why it was important for me to have this in my portfolio. I appreciated how frank he was, and could trust that what he was telling me was truthful. He helped me understand what I needed, and what direction I should head towards from there.

    Rob helped me understand that my next step was to start figuring out what type of design was right for me and where I could see myself working. I still didn't have the confidence in myself and design work to try and apply for jobs right after I graduated. My goal was to go back to community college and just keep learning more on design and motion graphics. But Rob encouraged me to apply for jobs, helped me figure out where to do so, and what I should do next to help decide the type of design I would want to pursue. He gave me great feedback on my website, and now I have a better understanding of the formatting I need to do to have it make more sense. Rob is super helpful! He will give you a million tips, from simple things like computer shortcuts to bigger factors, such as cool places to apply. There is definitely a lot I still need to accomplish, but I can finish this year up with confidence that I'm going to get hired after I graduate.

    – Kathryn, BFA Graphic Design

  • Rob was one of the most important resources I had at Columbia. We discussed everything in the advertising business, from making a solid resume and portfolio, to getting my foot in the door in the industry. He and the Portfolio Center staff also helped me connect to my first professional job only two months out of college.

    Rob tells it like it is. He won't beat around the bush. His feedback is direct and honest, which I value tremendously in a mentor. He is exactly the kind of person young creatives need to help launch their career. Rob was (and is) someone I constantly strive to impress. His knowledge of the advertising industry helped me to understand what I need to be successful in my chosen career. Whenever I prepared to meet with Rob, I made sure my professional brand was in the best shape possible because I wanted to stand out. His presence motivated me to be my absolute best. I also value having a personal relationship with Rob. He gives very personalized attention to all of his students, and whenever I talk to him, I feel respected and supported. He makes me feel like an individual rather than a number. He’s the best.

    – BriElle M, BFA Advertising Art Direction

  • What is unique about working with Rob is he's a talented artist, a hub for resources, and someone who may be able to connect you with a diverse and cool network of people. He's warm, down-to-earth, funny, and even though he has quite some experience in the field, he gets to your level (whichever one that may be) and helps you out in a way that makes the knowledge he gives you relatable to the level of experience you have, while also opening and directing you to jump in on that next-level door. The most important thing in working with Rob to me was that he was both super-relatable AND resourceful.

    – Julia W, BFA Graphic Design

  • Rob helped me in a very critical stage in a comic I was developing. I spent a long time thinking about the bumps in the road I could not get over or figure out. So I went to the Portfolio Center and Rob was so awesome. He told me how comics are made and several examples of indie comics. I had a problem on having the image cut off so he recommended using a template that would show me where there machines cut the paper so my images wouldn't get cut off. Rob made everything very simple and engaging, and I am far more proficient at getting my comics published now. He offers creative solutions to puzzling problems. He’s very friendly and personal. He makes you feel comfortable and at home. I love talking with him; he is very inspiring and makes you want to do better in your work. He knows things that every artist needs to know to be proficient in marketing themselves, like making a website, cards, etc. He’s so friendly that I feel I can be authentic with him. If you have a specific problem, he can tell you several ways to solve that problem and does it in fun ways so it doesn't seem hard.

    – Amber O, BFA Cinema Arts & Sciences

  • I have mainly had one-on-one meetings with Rob. I think that I came to the Portfolio Center and got lucky enough to be placed with Rob for a resume review after meeting with the director about a part-time job search. Rob has had many of the same experiences I have had, from working in the arts as an administrator, a pre-press operator, a curator; and he has also been a freelance/independent artist in his own right.

    He sat down with me right away and helped me align my skills and experience with a story I am telling about myself - to prospective employers, to fellow students, to a community of creatives. What was most valuable about working with Rob is the fact that I have been able to come back to him at various points in my schooling and career, and he has been able to give me feedback that's appropriate for the time and conditions (for example, for a particular job I am looking at applying toward or a particular way I want to begin marketing myself). It's clear that Rob follows his students, can mentor them in the long term, and doesn't have a standard 'script' or anything that he sticks to and tells each student. It’s clear to me that Rob is growing and learning as a professional himself, and that I think is a very important quality in a teacher/mentor/person at a college career development office. He also sets himself apart from many that learn what they learn at the time they learn it and stick to that standard when it comes it informing others.

    – Matthew R, Arts Management

  • As an art student at Columbia, I have had the privilege in receiving help and guidance from Rob. My work as a poetry major and art student has grown through his help. He is amazing in giving feedback, sharing ideas, pushing students to do better (and I speak from personal experience), and is an overall great instructor. I learned not only how to build a portfolio and website, but I have learned how to be even more creative when showcasing my work and sharing my passion with others in a professional manner. Rob has helped build my self-esteem and even takes out extra time in our sessions to talk and listen. It is a very great privilege to say Rob has impacted my life as a student within the two years of meeting and working with him.

    – Miguel Z, BA Creative Writing

  • Rob and I met one-on-one for a couple of weeks and each time we discussed web portfolio strategies that really helped me make my web portfolio excellent! Rob has a sort of quirky yet professional attitude that I really enjoyed. Rob knows when to kid around and when to be serious. Rob even had some suggestions about places I should visit or volunteer, which would let me become more active in the community. The most valuable thing for me while working with Rob was the professional networking he helped me out with as well as being a mentor himself. These networking tips really made a difference for me in terms of meeting fellow professionals of my field.

    – Trevor F, Game Development

  • I met with Rob for a one-on-one meeting to talk about constructing a portfolio. I admire Rob's ability to really narrow big ideas down to a much less overwhelming thing. The way he explained a lot of the portfolio building process, from design to presentation and execution, was done in such a way that I walked out less fearful of this process, and instead excited to go create something great! What I valued the most about working with Rob was how invested he becomes over the course of the meeting. Many people are able to guide you vaguely, but Rob was great at showing all of the possibilities you have, plus examples of other people's work, and how something may work out for you. I also appreciated that he took the time to look at my website the following day after our meeting just to see how I was doing and give me some feedback. Really surprised me but it was 100% appreciated!

    – Jahaira R, BA Graphic Design

  • I worked with Rob through the Portfolio Center at Columbia College Chicago. I've been meeting with him since the first week of my freshman year at Columbia. While all the questions and reasons that I sought his help have changed a lot in that 4 year timespan, (I've asked him everything from what major I should pursue to advice on getting an internship, to building a resume and a website for my portfolio, to what neighborhoods to explore in the city), his excitement and encouragement and general appreciation for my success as a student and my work has always been something I deeply appreciate, and one of the reasons I always look forward to hearing his input and advice.

    One of the things that's awesome about Rob is that not only does he know what he's talking about, and offers great advice and an honest perspective, but he really cares about every kid that comes into his office. As a student, that's a neat quality to find in a professor, or advisor. It's easy to feel like some of the faculty just see you as another faceless student. But Rob takes the time to get to know you, and finds out the best way to help you. I think that's special. It's advisors like Rob that make you feel like your college is really rooting for you to succeed.

    – Annie G, Interdisciplinary Arts

  • I was able to sit down with Rob two or three times about building my online presence and professional website. Rob was extremely helpful and friendly when listening, addressing, and offering varying solutions to problems that I was encountering. For example, he would pull up professional graphic designer websites for us to reference. Most important, Rob allowed me to be myself in his office. Growing up, I would interact with counselors or teachers who I would have to filter myself in front of. But Rob has a genuine attitude and an interest in the artists he helps. With my experiences, I would ask for some outlook on paths that didn't necessarily relate to my degree (graffiti) and he still would lend his time to help.

    – John M, Graphic Design

  • Rob has always been a great resource to me. He has advised me on many different matters throughout my career at Columbia, and he has helped me in taking the first steps into my professional development. Some of these steps involved putting me in touch with professional artists he knows, which had provided me with the opportunity to assist them and work independently, making money and enriching my professional experience. Also, he has nominated me to be part of the amazing LAUNCH Invitational Residency program at the Chicago Artist Coalition, which I was part of during the summer of 2015.

    I always appreciated how Rob motivated me to keep pushing my own limits and goals. I see in him as a person I would always be able to turn to for advice, and he has always makes himself available when I ask; knowing that he is busy and has a tight schedule this means a lot to me. What's been most valuable to me have been all the opportunities he’s provided me with; many have actually materialized into valuable experiences that are now part of my professional working experience in the arts field.

    – Lucas B, BFA Fine Art

  • I met several times with Rob one-on-one, covering a wide gamut of topics and concerns. Rob was extremely welcoming from the first interaction and was able to provide helpful feedback, references, and resources. Aside from Rob's thorough knowledge and resourcefulness, Rob exhibits a charismatic and intimate personality, allowing for easy conversation and a fluid progression of ideas. I sensed Rob's high level of investment in my work and ongoing projects, and Rob reached out to me personally after our meetings to check in and hear how my creative endeavors were prospering.

    Rob's level of dedication and follow-through left such an impression that I continued to meet with Rob, even if only to discuss new project concepts or ideas. Rob's ability to identify with my creative pursuits was extremely beneficial in my own understanding of my work, helping me to move various projects from concept to execution. Whether dealing with project specificity, career trajectory, or creative networking and integration, I highly recommend Rob for consultation. He is a strong thinker, full of talent, and has a commitment to helping other artists realize their own creative pursuits.

    – Daniel P, MFA Poetry

  • While I drowned in faculty, well-wishers and lost and confused parental figures outside of my academic world, Rob's concise career advice was by far the best. He was both kind and hard hitting and provided me with extra fire to move my career forward as well as show off what I have done so far. Not only did he handle the challenge of dealing with MFA students with ease, I got so much of his advisee sessions that I handed out his email address to many of other students.

    – Gretchen C, MFA Nonfiction

  • Rob really helped me narrate my own portfolio. He helped me to figure out how I wanted to present my portfolio based on my major. Since we had similar interests, (creating cartoons), it was a fun and memorable session. We had a great time collaborating and I always go to him when I need help. The unique thing about working with Rob is that he really tries to give advice on how to make you stand out from other classmates. Thank You Rob for helping me with my professional career! You are a true help and I very much appreciate all advice given to me!

    – Mary Z, Advertising

  • Rob helped me gain a better understanding of the design industry through class presentations and one-on-one meetings. Rob took the time to understand my work and career aspirations before offering advice. The guidance I received from him was very beneficial, but more importantly genuine and clearly came from a place of caring. Rob was very honest with his feedback. He acknowledged shortcomings in my work and offered practical solutions. I always felt comfortable asking him for help with my portfolio and job search.

    – Lauren G, BFA Graphic Design

  • Rob has helped me on multiple occasions, from simple questions to critiquing my portfolio and website. He helps by talking you through your problems until we can work out and talk through a solution. His honesty was helpful, because without that you can't improve. Rob is a person I greatly admire from a professional and personal standpoint and being able to work with him has really helped me professionally.

    – Raheem U, BA Design