CAT: Hi Michelle! Thanks for catching up with us today! To start out, can you tell us how you ended up choosing to take your graphic design training at Centre for Arts and Technology?
Michelle: Yes! At first, I was unsure about what field to enter after having spent a semester at Mount Royal in open studies. I heard about the quarterly start dates that CAT provides and it was very convenient for me, otherwise I would have had to wait six months for start school anywhere else. After we visited the campus I felt very at home, and knew this was the place for me to study design and feel comfortable.
The Centre helped prepare me for my career by sharing knowledge about website structure, and exposure to just how vast the graphic/web design industry is. While I did improve my graphic skills, the programming classes really prepared me for the competitive market in the real world.
What have you been doing since graduation?
I received two job offers before I graduated, and accepted the one with an advertising agency. I was with them for just under a year when an exciting opportunity came up with a Facebook game company, where I currently work. I also have maintained a casual freelancing career since graduating from CAT. I have expanded my skill set to include experience with new languages such as Python, jQuery and Django, and have vastly improved my Flash animation skills. I have been to many networking events and classes, and had a lot of client meetings. While I hope to work for Marvel as a Deadpool artist in the future, I am very content working with flash games and websites!
The one thing you would tell potential students about my experience at Centre for Arts and Technology is be social; the more you can work with others and learn from their experience or mistakes, the better off you will be. Networking is crucial because it can land you jobs, and open up new opportunities. It can be scary to attend design events, especially if you have never even had a client meeting. It is very important to improve your socializing skills to help lead you to new projects. I attended the Startup Weekend for the first time, hoping that I could be useful to at least one group, and I ended up providing various graphics and logos to three separate groups.
This industry is very welcoming, as I have learned from various networking events. You can learn a lot from other designers in the field, even ones you consider your competition, and there is always someone there to teach you something new. It is also a very broad field, since graphic design skills are required for many different types of work.
Most importantly, be dedicated to your classes. You get out of these classes what you put in, so don’t do just the bare minimum, and don’t expect everything to be easy. Struggling in this field is natural, and often the only way you can learn is when you fail first. Put more than the required hours in – live and breathe design.
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