Kelly O’Donnell ’14 realized that school is a great networking tool when she graduated from St. Cloud State.
As an aspiring graphic designer she connected with other students through the national organization American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA). The club helped O’Donnell learn more about the design industry by attending events.
“We plan events and meet once a month to talk about ways to reach out to designers who are new to the industry,” O’Donnell said. “It is a great networking opportunity. I also like to participate in events like Cocktails with Creatives which is a fun get-together every first Thursday of the month.”
She also connected with the graphic design job market by working for Copies Plus in St. Cloud State’s Atwood Memorial Center. At Copies Plus, O’Donnell learned how to work in a dynamic environment and met students who also studied design.
“That [Copies Plus] was probably the most influential and vital experiences I had at SCSU,” she added. “I made some really great connections and friends.”
The Career Services Center and Department of Art were two accessible tools for O’Donnell to meet artists and receive feedback from the career world.
“Job events that Career Services held, like meeting with designers for portfolio reviews, were very helpful,” O’Donnell mentioned. “I also enjoyed the many visiting artists that the art department brought in. They were so inspirational.”
Shortly after earning a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree in studio art with an emphasis in graphic design, O’Donnell became a graphic designer at Big Frog Custom T-shirts & More of Plymouth where she helps customers with custom shirt designs.
“I get to help bring their thoughts to life,” O’Donnell said.
“Job events that Career Services held, like meeting with designers for portfolio reviews, were very helpful.”
Since Big Frog is a fast-paced design company with quick turnaround rates, O’Donnell is learning new talents in her position.
“Customers come in and they want a design, sometimes within the day,” O’Donnell said. “I am improving my skills of quick thinking, compromising and problem solving.”
Improvement is an important aspect of O’Donnell’s career so she can always be on top of her game. This is why she is considering going back to school and learning more about the internet and digital realm.
“I want to brush up on some other skills like web design and typography,” she thought out loud.
However, graphic design means a lot more to O’Donnell than artistic abilities and technology.
“A graphic designer needs to be able to listen and communicate very well. They also have to learn how to work under sometimes stressful situations,” O’Donnell said. “One of the most important things is to not get attached to a client’s work because the client will not always like it, and you have to be okay with that.”
Someday O’Donnell hopes to work in a design or marketing firm atmosphere on the west coast. Portland and Seattle are her top two cities, but for now, she thinks Minneapolis is great.
“I am working my way up the ladder. I know it will take a lot of hard work and effort, but it will be worth it.”