Molly Sitter went to university and thought she chose the right career track in media and advertising. But fast forward a few years and she found herself “miserable,” losing inspiration and ambition. After researching her options, Molly made a bold choice to completely change careers with Shillington. She studied design 3 months full-time in New York and soon after graduation landed a role as a full-time Studio Designer at Spring St. Social Society in New York City.
Read on to find out why she decided to switch careers and become a designer, her typical day as a creative and where she looks for inspiration.
Before Shillington you worked in media and advertising. Why did you want to make a career change?
Back at University I chose a degree that I felt was valuable, multifaceted, and what I thought would be creative — a BA in Business, with a specialization in marketing. I had ideas of possibly going into media and advertising because those industries appeared to be fun and maybe a little glamorous. After graduation, I soon found that at an agency they stretch the definition of “creativity” (unless you are are solely in a creative position) to include how to best communicate with audiences through reading and interpreting data creatively. However, my strengths were always more visually creative and consistently I struggled in my first jobs within the media industry. In addition, I was not excited to go to work every day nor had I had aspirations to work my way up to higher positions along this career path. That’s when I realized I needed to change my focus to one where I could use my creative skills to then find a career I found enjoyable and highly rewarding.
Why did you decide to study design? And why Shillington?
After moving to NYC and traveling more often, I found myself making friends with many people in the design industry. I enjoyed spending time with people I could relate to, but at the end of the day I was envious of their career opportunities.
Then it hit me—why don’t I just pursue what makes me happy and pave myself a career in design?
I battled back and forth on whether this would be the right career change. Could I afford it? This would be the right time to do it, while I’m still young and not too deep into a career. But, I can’t afford spending another two years of my life in school, in addition to what it would cost. I could do small late night courses, but will that prepare me for a career in design? What if I don’t get a job afterwards? During my research I stumbled across Shillington and thought this could be the answer. However, it seemed too good to be true. I needed to learn more and as soon as I could, I attended an Information Session in addition to a Graduate Panel. Not only was I overwhelmingly impressed and had all my questions answered, I immediately applied to Shillington the next week.
Now you work in-house at a creative agency. Tell us how you landed the role! Did you feel confident with your Shillington portfolio?
I was incredibly lucky right after graduation. I had not applied to any jobs, yet I was sought out after seeing my portfolio created at Shillington. I had known the founders of the company that I work at for two years, right after I moved to NYC. During my time at Shillington,we were playing with the idea of an internship after I graduated. I wasn’t too thrilled with this idea because I needed a full time paid position to be able to survive in the city. However, soon after graduation my current bosses saw my portfolio and all that I have learned during my experience at Shillington, they soon was offered a full-time in-house position.
What’s your typical day like? Why do you love working as a designer?
We are an extremely small studio—a team of 6. My boss and I are the only creatives in the office. Our projects are mostly governed by the events we are producing. And with different events and projects each month, my days never look the same. However, I work on additional projects outside our events such as maintaining the design of our website and our blog, design pitch decks for potential clients, in addition to helping with our media strategy. It’s nice to work in such a small studio because I have so much ownership of my own work, but I do miss the collaborative element with a much larger team. I do get the chance to collaborate with my co-workers and other collaborators outside of our SSSS team, but at the end of the day all the work is still my own. Moreover, I love working as a designer because of its creative freedom.
I know that as a designer, perfection is never achievable, but I am always being looking for inspiration and learning from those around me.
Can you share the process behind a recent professional project?
Leading up to an event I begin with collaborating on the mood we want to share with our guests. From there I create a more thorough mood board that will help guide my and my team throughout each design aspect of the project (including all design collateral such as invitations, emails, menus, etc). I work very closely with my boss to determine the right direction to pursue and if my designs are accomplishing what we want to portray.
What was your favourite Shillington project? Why?
I loved most to all the projects we were briefed on. The project I had the most fun with was the city rebranding. I love to travel and I was in wanderlust throughout the entire project.
What advice would you give to a Shillington student on day one?
On Day One, don’t get too overwhelmed right away. The teachers, and how the course is designed, will set you up for success. Surprisingly in three months (this still shocks me), you will learn all the programs and become a confident designer in the real world… even though on the first day it seems like an impossible task.
Where do you go for creative inspiration?
I get most of my inspiration from traveling. I always have my camera glued to my hand to capture everything that inspires me. NYC is such a creative city, yet I always need to get out.
Want to make a career switch like Molly? Study design 3 months full-time or 9 months part-time at Shillington in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, New York, London or Manchester.