I had the pleasure of talking to Nicole Stivaletta, the creative supervisor for The Martin Group, an agency that works with big companies such as Adidas and Wegman’s. I was able to speak with her on Tuesday, October 6th, over the phone. I can say with confidence that Nicole represents the field I am interested in, for she is a graphic designer that went through a multitude of jobs and gained skills from each one before finding herself with The Martin Group. She worked her way up and is now the creative supervisor designing as well as overseeing and working with her team to make sure they produce the best work possible. She knows her way around the graphic design industry and worked hard to get where she is today.
Stivaletta’s first job out of college was not in her field. Due to when she graduated in 2009 and the economy was poor, so there was a lack in design jobs available. Her first design job out of college was at a printing company in Rochester called Mercury Print, where she was a graduate designer there.
When I asked in detail of what her job description is for working currently for Wegman’s she clarified that she works for an agency called the Martin Group and her client is Wegman’s. She then went on to describe that she is the creative supervisor on a team of four people who report to her daily, but she answers to the creative director. The account she works for is divided into different teams, so specifically she works on the print side of the account. In all she works with the designers on the team to get everything into good shape to share with Wegman’s.
As we continued our conversation, I asked what the typical day looked like for her, but unfortunately things have changed due to Covid-19 which shifted the way things happen a little bit. Typically, she starts off the day by meeting with the team, then then goes over the daily projects that need to be completed. Soon after there are daily meetings with Wegman’s that occur twice a say to go over the work they have completed or need to complete. She explained that Wegman’s have extremely tight timelines, therefore, a lot of her day is working with the team to make things run smoothly and on time. She explained that a large portion of her day is problem-solving and helping her team members trouble shoot different things. And then around 2–3 hours a day she spends doing high-level design work. Overall, a lot of her day now due to Covid is mostly meetings, whether it’s talking like her team or talking to the client or other people she works with.
I then asked what the most effective strategies are for seeking a position in this field is and her first response was to make sure you leave an impression and to present yourself in a way that shows you can bring something to the table that is out of the box thinking. She went on explaining that everyone looking for a graphic design job is going to have a good portfolio, but it is important to show something that would make you stand out of the crowd. For example, if you are particularly good at painting or drawing show, your favorite piece. She said that four strong pieces in total is better than eight so-so pieces. Funny enough she sincerely recommends that I should send a thank you note after any interview, for it goes a long way to send something handwritten now a-days. Showing your personality in a professional way is key for it shows you are a human being that can to work in an environment with others well, for a lot of agency graphic design jobs is a good amount of teamwork.
But the most important thing she said was to be honest, and that the more honest you are the better. She went on to describe her hiring someone who turned out didn’t have a lot of experience or knowledge on the software and it was a big problem. She said she is more interested in knowing that someone is ready and willing to learn. Be flexible she repeated a few times, she clarified that this is a big thing to her when hiring because she needs to know that whoever she will choose needs to be willing to do whatever is asked of them. It’s important for college students to expect the low projects in the beginning so that they can confidently say and know that you are ready for more.
In a similar mindset, I then asked what advice would you give someone who is considering this type of job? She then stated that being willing is the most important thing, for if you are more willing to do anything, you’re given then farther you’ll go. She explains that very often she sees people, especially right out of college expecting to get the best work right away and that is just not going to happen. It important to really know the lower level work or hone your skills and make sure you know the basics thoroughly. She said that this field is one where you really have to prove yourself and show that you are capable and that you are willing to put in the time and the effort, while also showing that you’re a quick learner.
I followed up lastly with the question, if you could do it all over again, would you choose the same path for yourself? If not, what would you change? She went on to explain that she jumped around a lot to get where she is now, and that her path wasn’t a straight shot or even a direct line. Instead, she tried a bunch of different things, like working at a printing company, or a small agency. And eventually she found her way to where she is now and thriving. Stivaletta stated that it’s okay to not have a straight path because you pick up different skills along the way that you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. In all, no, she does not regret anything at all even though it took a little longer to get where she is now, she needed to find places that weren’t a good fit to find where she does work well with.