On the blog today is Caroline Keefe. Originally from Western Massachusetts, Caroline enrolled at Shillington’s New York Campus and since graduating she’s hit the ground running. Caroline has secured numerous freelance roles at fashion companies such as J.Crew and Gap and more recently working on the Brands and Events Team at American Youth Television Network, Nickelodeon.
Caroline tells us how she found life at Shillington, the advice she’d impart to current students and how things have been since graduating.
What made you want to apply to Shillington in the first place?
I had always had an interest in design, but never looked at it as a possible career path. I had already received my bachelors in English Education from a 4 year school and did not want to spend another four years in school all over again. A friend of mine had attended Shillington and suggested I look into it. Her portfolio was very impressive and she was freelancing for exciting clients so I was sold.
Overall the course was better than I had anticipated. I was shocked at how fast I was picking up new skills.
The progress you can make within three months is truly incredible. I was surprised to see all the different methods the curriculum takes in getting students to reach their fullest potential.
This is achieved through quick and informative lectures, excellent handouts to go along with them, team projects, peer and teacher critiques and guest speakers from a variety of design backgrounds.
What were the main things you learned on the course?
Beyond learning the obvious tools necessary like Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign I learned the importance of going through the creative process. I learned how important it was to create mood boards and sketch out ideas in my notebook. I also learned the importance of asking questions when being briefed by a client. With the help of my teachers and classmates I was able to see strengths I didn’t even know I had.
How well did you feel the teachers prepared you for the real world of the design industry?
After graduation I was prepared to start job hunting immediately. I had a website, business cards and resume ready to go and I knew the next steps to going out and looking for jobs. At Shillington our teachers prepared us for the interview process, they helped us learn how to walk potential employers through our portfolio and really showcase the purpose beyond our work.
Since the briefs at Shillington are set up with deadlines and specs that you will see out in the workplace I found it pretty easy to take on my first project out in the field.
How did you go about getting your first job and how much help did you get from the college?
My first job was through a creative agency here in New York—which I found through Shillington. I met with a recruiter and walked her through my portfolio and she placed me in a freelance role on the J.Crew Catalog team.
Who do you work for now and what does your role involve?
I currently freelance for Nickelodeon working on The Branding and Events Team. My team works on everything from The Brand Style guide to designing the look and feel for Kids Choice Awards.
What advice would you offer anyone thinking about applying for a design course at Shillington?
My main advice would be to make sure you can devote time to the course. If you take the time to immerse yourself 100% it can be incredibly rewarding. I walked away from Shillington with not only an entire new set of skills, but an amazing network of people added to my life. From my classmates to my teachers, it is truly a wonderful community to be a part of and it doesn’t go away at graduation!
Thanks to Caroline for taking the time to talk with us, we wish her all the best with her exciting new career. You can connect with Caroline over on LinkedIn or check out her website for more examples of graduate work.