What was your major at CI? What was the month and year of your graduation?:

I graduated in Fall 2013 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Art with an emphasis in Graphic Design and a Digital Media Certificate.

What is your job title and the name of the company where you are currently employed?:

I am a Graphic Designer at Sideshow Collectibles in Newbury Park, CA.

What particular skills or talents are most essential to be effective in your job?:

Besides the essential technical skills with design software, I think problem solving in particular is a huge part of the job. I’m not necessarily moving around images in Photoshop all day, but more trying to solve or communicate an idea in the best visual way possible. Also, accountability, attention to detail and good listening skills are also very crucial to making sure you can make the best products on time, and to make sure you meet (and hopefully exceed) your clients’ needs.

Why did this type of work interest you, and how did you get started?:

Well, to go WAY back…ever since I was little I was absolutely a visual learner and always loved to doodle. I really enjoyed organizing things more than kids really should. Fast forward to high school where I took a graphics arts class on a whim and loved it. I got the opportunity to design the high school ID card that got printed and every student used and it blew my mind that something I MADE was being used by so many people and it just clicked that maybe I could do something with this. When I started going to college I took more and more design classes and really fell in love with the medium and how it incorporated so many art disciplines. From there I took on multiple internships while doing design work for CSUCI just to get more practice and experience.

How well did your college experience prepare you for this job?:

My college experience was extremely positive with the many connections I made and the resources I had available to me, but I think it really comes down to the fact that the professors really know their stuff. They offered great advice on how the industry actually is verses how it’s portrayed. I was assigned a lot of art and design projects that in retrospect I see how they gave me the tools to be able to tackle professional projects. I also feel very lucky to have the professors I had. Their diverse experiences in the field and the projects they gave, very much prepared me for my professional career. Especially as an art major where they type of work I do varies every day. I really appreciated the fact that the class sizes were small, and that everyone got personalized attention and could form trusting educational relationships with professors. In particular, Professor Luke Matjas was key in my development as an artist and professional. The design projects he would assign would have so many particular, and nuances to them that people who were new to his class would look around at each other like he was a madman with all the requirements. But like the Graphic Design Mr. Miyagi that he is, it wouldn’t be long before you would realize that you were learning and thinking on a whole different level. Picking up skills, pushing boundaries, and paying attention to details you may never even noticed before, but now…those details are the most important thing in every project you do. The insight he gave about the industry and the desire to push all of his students was very encouraging and I was able to get into some great design internships during my time at CI, including one at NBC Universal.

Did you complete an internship while at CI? If so, what was your position? How did the internship help you in your career development?

Yes! I had two external internships during my time at CI, the first was a design internship at a local Camarillo business helping develop some outward facing brand identity materials. Having that internship under my belt made getting my second one a little easier however this graphic design internship was actually at NBC Universal right next to Universal Studios. I have to admit it was pretty cool to be able to walk through the backlot of Universal to my internship right behind the Jurassic Park Ride and work on design assets for the current TV Shows at the time. The experience there cemented the idea that I wanted to be working in some capacity in the entertainment industry. I think students should absolutely apply for positions in the industry they are interested in, but don’t get discouraged that you don’t get an amazing intern spot right off the bat. I don’t think I would have gotten a chance at a bigger company if I hadn’t accepted a little bit of a lesser internship before that to prove that I was a reliable, driven person and had experience being in a professional environment. And I’ll be honest looking back to that time my portfolio was good, but not the best in the world, but through the encouragement of my professors, and with the aid of the Career Development Services team with my resumé and mock interviews I was able to secure the internship and have a really positive experience.

Did you utilize Career Development Services (CDS) during your time at CI? If so, please describe how engaging in programs and services (e.g., Career & Internship Fair, CI Connection Luncheon, Drop-In Career Counseling) offered through CDS contributed to your career development:

Absolutely, I cannot recommend their services enough. I was in the unique position of actually doing design work for them during my time at CI so I was exposed to all of their events and services. I saw how the internship fairs helped give students an easy way to go and talk to people who were already in the industry and even provide direct opportunities to those interested. And the often underutilized drop-in counseling definitely helped students get some amazing gigs after getting a (usually much needed) professional overhaul. Personally I feel their one-on-one time with me to help tailor my resume gave me an edge to get my foot in the door at more companies than I otherwise would have, and their insight into the professional world taught me the skills and vocabulary i needed to navigate it. I highly recommend seeing them! 

Do you have any advice (job hunting or otherwise) for CI students?:

Oh, absolutely! If I were to give any advice to current students it would be to make a lot of connections and be friendly and supportive to your classmates, because it will open up doors for lots of opportunities down the line. I wouldn’t have been able to get my foot in the door at my current position without a reference from an alumni friend that I had made during my time at CI. Also, make sure to present yourself in the best way possible with your resume, portfolio, and especially your attitude. Seeing interviews from the other side now, I can tell you that if you have a bad attitude you will not even be considered. And lastly, you should strive toward what you really want to do and not settle. It really shows and makes the whole interview process much more successful when you don’t feel like you have to have to feign interest, but are genuinely passionate about what you do! 

Would you be willing to connect with current CI students who have questions for you on LinkedIn? If so, please include your LinkedIn url.

Of Course! I am totally open to talking to any CI students. My LinkedIn is: https://www.linkedin.com/in/erikscoggan