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In Her Own Words: Sandra Uses Career Services to Chart her Next Move

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Creativity through writing and art has always been very important to me. From a young age through high school I could be found expressing myself through drawing, painting, journaling, and telling stories.

But when it came time to choose a degree program after high school, I wasn’t sure how to combine a career and my passions. So I obtained the only degree that made sense, English. But as graduation neared I began to wonder, what kind of job would I get with my degree?

At the time, I didn’t know which way to turn, so I accepted a position as an Administrative Assistant. It wasn’t until several years later when I was tasked with managing a website that I realized that writing and art were moving into the digital realm and were making a big impact on how businesses and non-profits were marketing themselves. 

This was a revelation. Maybe there were ways to use my skills online?

I have to admit, I was intimated that first time I updated a website in 2007, but soon I was learning all I could about HTML, CSS, creating beautiful cover photos and collages with Photoshop, and writing copy for the web. I was officially hooked! I could use my creativity to help my employer market themselves!

After my realization that this was the field for me, I immersed myself, completing two certificate programs in graphic design and web development and taking on more projects at work, including designing posters and flyers, starting a Facebook page, and adding popular pages to our website.

In my personal life, I took things to another level. I wrote and self-publishing a novel, started a corresponding blog and social media accounts to market that novel, and began working as a freelance graphic designer. I jumped in feet first into the world of digital marketing and social media.

The only problem was that I still wasn’t able to land the full time job I really wanted.

So I strategized ways that I could make myself more marketable to employers and decided that I needed a more specialized education. I already had one bachelor's degree, but I had earned my degree before digital marketing and social media were on the horizon.

After doing some research, I found the perfect program for me at Granite State College: the Digital and Social Media degree!

While taking several online courses, I received an email from my advisor about Career Services. It struck me as I read that email that career services was exactly what I needed to help me in my career transition. It was free for students and was sure to give me excellent professional advice on how to make my career change a reality.

I started by taking the Career Development and Life Planning (APST 505) course with Jan Coville. We completed self-assessments, learned strategies to market ourselves including updating our resumes and cover letters, and set goals. We also read articles about recent changes in the job market, which included learning about how careers are changing in the digital age. It was a great experience and I learned more than I expected.

But my most valuable take away was that I needed more hands-on experience to help bolster my chances of landing a job.

I took what I learned in class and started looking for flexible volunteering and internship opportunities to gain experience while still working full time. Luckily, I wasn’t alone on this journey as I now had Granite State's Career Services department by my side! Jan checked in with me regularly to see how I was doing and sent me job, volunteering, and internship opportunities.  It was amazing to have someone there offering advice and support!

After a bit of searching I found one opportunity, and Jan suggested a second. So for the past six months I've been volunteering my time at a local non-profit using my graphic design skills to create marketing materials for their events and I've been working with the Marketing and Communications Department at Granite State College to write blog posts, consult on commercials, write tweets, and more.

With the help of Granite State's wonderful Career Services department, my volunteering efforts and an eventual degree in Digital and Social Media, I’m well on my way toward my goal and can’t wait to land that first job in the field I’m so passionate about!

My advice to students:

Reach out and grab whatever help you can on your journey toward your degree and a new career. Career services, trainings, courses, networking, internships, and volunteer experiences can really expand your horizons and prepare you for the change you want to make. Get out there! Flexible arrangements do exist! 

 

Article by: Sandra Hickey

 
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