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  • Major BFA Visual Design, Graphic Design
  • Work history Project Manager at SAW Advertising Agency

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

The beauty of my job is that it’s flexible. Daily current duties include, but are not limited to: children’s book illustrations, logo design, creating infographics, watercolor sketching, designing billboards, strategy guides & window perfs, generating visual reports of client data, digitizing artwork, educating the public on art and design skills and snacking. Most importantly, I snack daily.

My experience at CMU was extremely broadening. The field of graphic design is so vast that you are required to take courses that seem to have no connection, but when you’re thrown into a work environment that requires you to know something about everything, the skills you learned at CMU become extremely necessary. The importance of listening to your scholastic peers and appreciating their perspective is reflected professionally when connecting with a client. In order to design something for their specific needs, it is literally your job to listen to their goals and help them obtain them through design. Though the objective of cultivating personal skills is not what you pay for, it’s the biggest takeaway from privatized education.

What was your transition like from being a student to your current career position?

Transitioning from a student to a professional in the field of graphic design was initially disheartening. I believe a lot of students are expected to have a job in their field before the commencement ceremony begins, and when your diploma arrives in the mail a few weeks later and you’re still working a part-time job and sketching for fun you feel like a failure. I began to apply for any job I could find in the  “creative field.” I put my portfolio out seven separate times and was rejected what felt like ten times that amount. Though my initial response to the rejection of each application was devastation, I slowly became more resilient and started to offer my freelance services to people I knew just to keep my skills fresh. It wasn’t until six months after graduation I noticed an online classified ad for a position searching for my exact skill set. When I responded to the Facebook post advertising for a designer I had become so quick in being able to update my cover letter and resume that I had an interview scheduled five hours later. When I accepted the job, I hit the ground running. I set up my official sole-proprietorship and began designing left and right. Transitioning from becoming a student into a professional seemed like it didn’t happen at all then all at once.

What do you think set you apart from the other applicants for your current position? 

I believe what set me apart from the other applicants for my current position is my willingness and ability to adapt and learn new things. I am a strong believer in the idea that one never stops learning. When you hire a graphic designer you’re also hiring the IT department, the chef, the copy editor and someone who accepts “other duties as assigned” because they are so willing to learn new skills and apply their current ones to the job. My hunger to learn and go “above and beyond” has allowed me to make professional connections someone who otherwise would “phone it in” wouldn’t. I believe that skills, whether or not they pertain to the degree hanging on my wall, are applicable to your current professional position. I have a steadfast dedication to my organization and my clients, and loyalty seems to be fleeting in the industry. Genuinely caring for your work and what it represents can make an impression in the interview process and the director of SAW Advertising Agency saw that in my work before I walked in the door for the interview. In the first conversation, I had with the staff during my interview I made it very clear I was going to work hard. Even by putting in the effort to follow the application process to the “T” by integrating the instructions in a creative way set me apart from the hiring pool.

What advice would you give to incoming college students?

If you’re not passionate about your degree, I would encourage you to find what you love before entering a program. Don’t waste your money learning skills you don’t care about. Find what you love, work hard and don’t be afraid to ask questions and make relationships with your professors and fellow students. Learn from conversations and not just what’s assigned to you. Be open to learning time management first, then allow yourself to balance work and play. Your mental health is just as important as your education, so learn to listen to your body and the stressors that college will ultimately place on you. Enjoy every second of being there because you’ll blink and it’s over!

Connect with Emmi on LinkedIn
Published 6/27/2018

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