This week, I participated in a job shadow to experience what it’s really like to be a (drum roll) graphic designer! Personally, I’ve been into graphic design since my freshman year and I honestly love doing it. I started off making YouTube banners and logos for my friends’ YouTube channels, since YouTube is like “the thing” these days. It really got me interested in graphic design and being able to brand people and what they stand for.
So when I got this job shadow opportunity, I jumped at it and I was extremely excited to do it. I went to the company, SimplePart, which brands car companies, specifically their car accessories and also the parts of cars.
They create websites and help with the marketing of those vehicle’s parts and such. So, from first glance, I really thought the company was super cool and unique. As I walked around, I saw that there are whiteboard walls with writing. I immediately thought about VOX ATL because our walls, which are whiteboards as well, have writing on them for miles and miles. So, I felt very comfortable just stepping in.
When I got there, the place looked super nice and I was totally intrigued. I was signing into the log when this adorable golden retriever came up to greet me! I petted him and everything — it was a super nice dog. It was the intro to my whole day and I was just overjoyed.
So, that was a great upside. After my cute encounter with the dog, I met Penn Hansa. She was friendly and inviting and she gave me an overview of the day. She’s the head of the design team at SimplePart and she is a VOX ATL alum, which I find very inspiring because I wish to be like her.
There were also a lot of Google-related items around the office, so I instantly knew the company was somewhat affiliated with Google. Google doesn’t own them, but there is a definite relationship there, so to see Google’s logo all over the place was cool.
We started with a meeting that went over the website that the design team had recently finished for BMW. The website looked really nice and the aesthetic was definitely there. If I were using the website, I would be a satisfied user.
After the meeting, I officially met with the whole design team. It consists of four people: Penn, who’s the head, Danny and Peter, who are the web designers and Atayal, who does the marketing/advertising design, which is also the design path I’m interested in.
I spent a little time with each designer and they all explained to me what they did in terms of graphic design. After talking to all of them, I learned that none of them had been to an art school. Danny went to the University of Texas at Austin, Penn went to the University of Georgia, Atayal went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Peter went to Georgia Tech.
Another interesting thing was that the whole team was under the age of 35. That really resonated with me because of my age. For Danny and Atayal, this was their first job. It was still really cool though because they could tell me about their college and high school experiences, as they didn’t happen that long ago.
After I talked to all of them, I went to help Atayal with a sheet of a marketing plan that would eventually be given to other companies to help them market their products. So, I had a little bit of hands-on experience.
After that, we went to lunch and I talked to the group more. They asked a lot about me, which I didn’t mind because I had been asking so much about them previously. After lunch, I sat with the designers and watched them work. It was a really cool thing to see. I saw the interaction and the whole process they went through to create a website.
The process includes the following:
The design team connects with the enterprise team and gets a new project from a certain company. The enterprise team is a middleman between the company and the designers. They talk to the car companies and ask what they would like and then that information is relayed to the designers.
The company gives guidelines and photos for the designers to work with to design their product, which could be a multitude of things, from a website to backgrounds for computers.
Next, the web designers will design the prototype, which is basically a website that caters to the company’s needs and wants.
Then, a series of meetings will happen where they go through the websites and fix errors and revise the website to make it more friendly to the user and to make it just look better.
Finally, after the site has been revised enough, it’s sent to the web developers at another part of the company. Then more meetings happen to make sure the website can be executed properly. There are more edits and corrections until the website is good for launch.
Today was a great day for me. Here’s what I learned and what I’m going to take with me from this experience:
1. You don’t have to go to art school to have a career in graphic design.
None of the designers went to the Savannah College of Art and Design or CalArts or anything like that. They went to public schools and got their degrees and they’re pretty good at what they’re doing now. So, in reality, it doesn’t matter if I go to an art school. It’s possible to still get a job doing graphic design and not enroll in an art school.
2. There will be different types of people in this field.
Not everyone is an outgoing machine that is super peppy and positive. There are introverts and extroverts. There are different personalities as well. Yet, all those personalities together can make a great team.
3. Portfolios are so important.
As I get older, I realized — and the team also said this several times — that I’m going to need a portfolio. I need a portfolio a lot more than anything else if I’m going to want to go into any art field. It’s almost a necessity to have one. So, I will definitely get started on one as soon as possible.
4. If you aren’t sure about what you want to do, it’s cool to change your mind — several times if you need to.
When I was talking to Peter, he told me he had changed his mind about what kind of design he wanted to do. At first, it was industrial design, then he changed paths. By the end of college, he decided to do web design and that’s what he’s doing now. If you want to change what you want to do, it’s almost never too late to.
5. I most certainly am still on the path to graphic design.
After my experience today, it just made me more excited to study graphic design in the near future. I had a lot of fun and I learned a lot about what I can do to get there. Apparently, “I’m already ahead of the game with my experience,” according to the whole design team. Now that I have experience, I see myself doing this in my future and I’m just glad I even had this experience.
Jasmine Martin, 16, attends DeKalb Early College Academy and now realizes graphic design is officially her true passion.