My arm’s a little sore from patting myself on the back. Yes, yes, this IS the first time my Friday feature is actually going to be posted on a Friday! Thank you very much…. And just in time for the Easter season (you’ll see what I mean, and maybe you’ll even support Elise’s artistic endeavors).
I never expected my life to take the turns it did, but I had decided early in life to take the “go-with-the-flow” approach. Who needs the added stress of trying to plan every day of your unknown future anyway? These days I work in the marketing department of a local wholesale bakery near Philadelphia, PA. The road I took to get there was full of a variety of different experiences, but I couldn’t predict the outcome would be here.
It’s a great job that sort of keeps me on my toes, as it’s never the same each day. I was hired to help upkeep the website and to bring the company into the social media scene. While it proves challenging at times, I get to flex my creative muscle at this job by creating and maintaining a monthly newsletter and designing various business cards, signs, or flyers. Usually I’m called on for odd jobs such as painting walls, handling key inventories, filing production sheets, inspections, and tons of other little things that don’t quite fit in a category. It might not sound glamorous or fun, but the people I work with really make it worthwhile. Working with great people makes any 40 minute rush hour commute worth it in my opinion. While employed here, I’ve gained a lot more knowledge in the food industry. I should say that I went to school for art, and while knowledge in the food industry might seem useless in that regard, I find it really useful and interesting. On one hand, it’s not one of my broad goals to work in the food industry forever. On the other hand, it could provide another outlet for creativity – illustrating cookbooks, designing food guides, menus, logos, the possibilities are numerous if you stop to think about it! I will admit, oftentimes the job does drag. 8 hours at a desk 5 days a week can really get to a person. I’m a bit isolated in my corner – sometimes forgotten! About one week a month I have hardly anything to do but beg coworkers for information to fill up the newsletter, and usually it’s an unsuccessful effort. That aside – I work in a bakery! I get tons of delicious bread and pastry all the time and who could be unhappy with that! (Apologies to the gluten-intolerant)
Jack of Hearts
To unwind after work I do a number of things. My go-to is usually to draw, paint, or play some video games. At least three days a week I hit up the gym to keep all that bread I’m eating from wreaking too much havoc. On Saturdays I volunteer at my alma mater, Moore College of Art & Design. I help teach an anime/manga class full of 10-12 year olds. Since anime was a big part of my life at that age, I feel as though I can connect with them much easier than some of the professors. Volunteering is a great opportunity to make an impact on other people’s lives, and I love working with these students. They want to be there, they want to improve, and they’re passionate about it. I also scraped together my lunch money and joined the Philadelphia Sketch Club! It’s a great opportunity to meet professional artists and get inspired. My artwork has also been accepted for two shows and has hung in the gallery! It’s hard to be bored around Philadelphia, since there’s always something going on. However, I live in the burbs, and train tickets and gas can get expensive. To make up for it, I sell Ukrainian Eggs. This is a slavic tradition (typically Ukrainian, hence the name) that has been passed down through my family. While Ukrainian eggs (or pysanky) are made during Lent, or just on Easter day, I’ve come to enjoy making them during other times of the year. I began making them as young as 4 years old. Back then my designs were just scribbles, but hey, everyone starts somewhere! I like to think my designs these days are a little more sophisticated. I find as I grow and my style evolves, it has become more graphic. It gives my pysanky a noticeable difference from others being sold on etsy – and that’s really helpful! My mother and I both maintain and sell from Etsy, which is a really great site to use if you’re into crafting and home-made items. They don’t take too much from every sale, and listing an item on the site is only a few cents every month. Completely worthwhile if you sell at the right price. Pysanky are also very cheap to make and look beautiful when they’re completed. If you’re curious as to how they’re made, check out this blog post I made
Can’t get any easier! Below is a link to the etsy page, where you can see some of the designs. They really are a unique, fun craft. While anything and everything can be drawn on them, we tend to lean toward traditional geometric designs. That doesn’t mean I don’t try and have a little fun with them sometimes!
As I’ve said, I never imagined I’d end up where I did. That’s in part to the fact that I attended an art college and got my BFA in Illustration. I would never change that for the world. College was the best 4 years of my life, and I learned so much. My artistic skill really improved, I made tons of new friends and connections, and I fell in love with Philly. I made the fatal mistake of not searching for a job during my senior year, and instead put all of my energies into making a ton of art for my Senior Show.While I believe it was successful, I still had to go back home and figure out my life from there. I took a month vacation – something I would have never dreamed of doing otherwise – then put my nose to the grindstone. Taking the time off helped with the stress I accumulated from Senior year. I put too much pressure on myself and burned out by graduation. Thus, the thought of a job really wasn’t palatable. However, I was lucky. I walked into the mall with a resume and found a job at Lenscrafters. Not a glorious job, not great pay, and only part time. It was something. Over the course of the next few months I managed to get work at my church as an administrative assistant, and as a receptionist at the eye doctor adjacent to Lenscrafters. I took a chance with the job at the church. I thought I wouldn’t enjoy it and that it would be too straight-laced and boring. I couldn’t have been more wrong, and I’m SO glad I took the chance. I learned tons of great skills for the workplace and everyone I worked with became my second family, I even had the opportunity to go with the youth to Virginia on their annual mission trip! It was an amazing experience. Projects ranged from running a ‘kid’s club’ for local impoverished children, working with habitat for humanity, and various labor for community members. I feel like I got just as much out of it as the kids did, and it felt great knowing I was helping a community that appreciated it.
By the end of my first year home everything was becoming monotonous. Working three jobs was getting to me. I was working too many hours for too little. While I had learned a lot, and even became more confident in my customer service and social skills, I couldn’t take it anymore. I tripled my efforts to move out of my parent’s basement (oh, the shame) and get into a place of my own. My ultimate goal was to get out of New York State. I was tired of it. The problem was that most jobs I applied to out of state didn’t want to bother with someone who wasn’t local. I found my salvation in a chiropractor looking for an office manager. I was hired, and with only three weeks to spare, left my jobs, found an apartment, a roommate, and moved. I’ll admit I wasn’t sure I was making the right choice. I was getting bad vibes about the job. Everyone I knew was having the same bad feelings. In the end, I quit after two weeks. The doctor and I didn’t work well together, for whatever reason. I’d never felt happier leaving a job. It left me with a big problem – I was in this brand new place two and a half hours from my old home and I had no job. I did something crazy – I kicked back and relaxed for the first time in over a year.
That’s not to say I didn’t apply to jobs – I did! Craigslist may seem shady (and it is) but it provided me with a ton of local job opportunities, including my current one! After a week had passed I was called in for an interview, and I’ve been with the bakery ever since. If I hadn’t taken my original risk, I never would have had this great job! Sure, it looked bleak for a short while, but it all worked out in the end, and I couldn’t be happier about it. I still pass by that chiropractor on my way back to New York and I stick my tongue out every time, but it was a learning experience. I learned a lot about chiropractic and insurance within two weeks, and also that some people will find faults with you no matter how much you try and correct them. It’s up to you to decide if those faults are actual faults and if they’re worth correcting for those people.
If I could go back and do things differently, this is what I would do.
>If you’re planning on heading into college, apply for any scholarship you can find. I was so lazy about it, and I absolutely regret it. I could have had much less debt if I’d been more proactive.
>Go to any and every special presentation your college offers. If they have guest speakers relating to your field or closely related – go! Don’t go out to dinner with your friends, don’t blow it off to finish homework early, don’t play video games, just go!!
>Ask more questions in class. If you need help, ask! My experiences are mainly art-related, but I think it can go for anyone. I was labelled a self-starter by my professors, hence they didn’t offer much advice and let me work through my own problems. While I enjoy doing that, and I did eventually find solutions, I would have appreciated some help rather than spend an hour struggling through a problem. I was too shy to ask, and if I’d just gone for it, I could have seen improvement faster. I’m not saying “go out and act needy,” but once in a while, you deserve just as much attention as the annoying person in class who doesn’t understand how to use an HB pencil.
>If you have a blog – maintain it! I have a blog, and I can’t even manage a post a month anymore. It can be a really great tool for connecting and putting your name out there! It just needs to be utilized. Remember, it doesn’t have to be all professional, either. Just realize it’s a little more public than Facebook and to keep the red solo cup pictures off of it.
>Join Linkedin and keep an updated profile. It’s an important tool that if used correctly, can help you find great jobs.
>Take a chance when job hunting. As a student I only applied to jobs in my field – concept art, freelance (be wary, freelancers, be very wary), book illustration, storyboarding…While I loved all of these things, I never got responses. I always ignored the “Must have X years experience in related field” and that was a mistake! I never stopped to think outside the box. I found that many jobs could use a creative twist, and my degree could be applied in other ways. In the meantime, I’m taking freelance and part time jobs to build up my “X-years experience.” Every little bit adds up.
>If you like to craft or knit or build things, sell your extras on Etsy! You’ll have a little extra cash in your pocket, and you may even get recurring customers if you make a solid product. That’s gold!
>Take a break every once in a while. It might sound obvious, but I was so bent on getting money that sometimes I worked for weeks straight with no days off. I had no time to myself. I couldn’t do any of the activities that I enjoyed, and it caused a lot of strain. When I did manage time off, I could hardly enjoy it because I was so exhausted. Taking a break is okay! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.