As a graduating senior, it is easy to get caught up in the hustle. Whether that be finishing out my formal education on a strong note, applying to jobs, or balancing my 3+ part-time gigs, I have constantly been finding myself exhausted and overwhelmed this semester. To counter those emotions, I have decided to start writing again. Ever since I was an angsty tween, I have found solace in writing out my thoughts and reflecting on my actions. In this post, I have chosen to write about my journey in graphic design, and my many successes throughout high school and college.
In high school, I took a marketing class with a teacher named Ms. Smith for 3 years in a row. Each year, this teacher hosted a contest among the students to design the annual DECA t-shirt. I took this contest pretty seriously and produced a design that would appeal to students and fit within the design constraints. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was one of my first graphic design projects. Even though I was using rudimentary web tools and had never even heard of Adobe Illustrator at this point, I felt that I was good at it, and I found pride in designing something that students throughout the school would wear. My t-shirt design won two years in a row, and the third year, I played a significant role in editing and tweaking the final design. It was because of this class that I started focusing thinking about marketing and advertising as a potential career path. I found that my parents alma mater, WSU, has a major called Digital Technology and Culture. It was around the end of my senior year of high school that I got interested in hand-lettering and calligraphy. I was constantly doodling and practicing in the margins of my text books. I eventually made an Instagram account to show off my work, and that page is still active to this day! My interests and style have evolved pretty dramatically, but I enjoy looking back at my past works and seeing the growth I have made in the last 5 years.
Once I got to WSU, I immediately got involved with sorority recruitment and accepted a bid to join my sorority, Kappa Delta. My first semester at school, I applied to the VP of Public Relations council position for the sorority. To my surprise, the sorority members elected me to council that November. I found that I loved creating graphics for our social media pages and promotional materials for our fundraisers and social events. I made all kinds of content, both for internal distribution and for external PR purposes. I made phone wallpapers and social media headers for our member to use. I also made cards and fliers to be passed out on campus and banners to hang in front of our house. I loved the art side of this role. It was after I started in this position that an older member texted me and told me that I should start a Red Bubble page to sell sticker designs. At the time, I used an old version of Photoshop that my sister had somehow downloaded onto my computer. I did not really know what I was doing, but I knew how to use Google and Youtube to my benefit, and I got it done. In the first few months of posting, promoting and selling stickers, I made over 100 dollars! As a bright-eyed 19 year old, this made me excited about graphic design and showed me that I can make money doing this. Everything I made was very basic (and looking back, I can't believe that people actually bought them from me!).
My term as VP of Public Relations ended in November of 2017, and in January of 2018, I started a graphic design internship with College Hill Custom Threads. I remember the internship director asking me if I had ever used Illustrator on my first day at College Hill. I nervously responded that I had used it a few times, but in all honesty, I really did not know what I was doing. In the next few months, that College Hill internship taught me more than I ever imagined about design, the Adobe Creative Suite, and the role of an in-house graphic designer. By the end of the semester, in May, I had been offered a job to become the graphic designer for the Coug, a locally famous and historic college bar in Pullman, right off campus. My first project was to design a new menu for the bar & restaurant. I was so proud of my work!
That summer, thanks to my KD connections, I interned for McKinley Irvin Family Law in their Marketing department. It was a great experience to learn about working in a big corporate environment.
Working for the Coug is great, but it wasn't enough hours to keep me busy, so I then took on another gig as a Communications Assistant for the Information Technology department at WSU. I worked there for about 2 months in the late summer, early fall of 2018. However, I did not love what I was doing, and it did not pay very well. In October of 2018, I was offered a job with the WSU Student Entertainment Board as a graphic designer. I was thrilled an immediately emailed my boss at the IT department to give her my 2 weeks' notice. SEB was an amazing job for me and I learned a tremendous amount in the two semesters that I was there. I had a great boss/mentor that supported me and my art. His input and feedback were helpful and honest, and he really pushed me to make my art the best I could. In the spring of 2019, WSU Student Affairs Marketing offered me a job as a graphic designer. This was a big step up for me. I am currently still in this position and I love it. It is an in-house design job that feels like an agency job. My clients are from lots of different departments and organizations across campus and they are always asking for all sorts of different design tasks. In February of 2020 I was offered a part-time graphic design job with College Hill, which was thrilling because this is the company that I had my first graphic design internship with. Unfortunately, because of COVID-19, I only worked with them for about a month before everything shut down and all my hours were cut. I hope to work for them again as soon as businesses start reopening. Throughout all these jobs, I have also had many freelance gigs on the side. I have learned to manage my time and to prioritize projects.