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1. Ariel, prior to college you were homeschooled. Staying local was obviously important to you as a transfer student from Rowan College at Gloucester County (RCGC). What were some of your deciding factors when you compared RUC vs some other universities in your backyard?
As my search for a university continued, I knew I wanted an environment that would grow my skills as a professional and find connections that would help me jump start my career. Originally, I had my sights on Montserrat College of Art, Moore College of Art & Design, University of the Arts, and California Institute of the Arts, but all of these were insanely expensive and out of state. Around the time I was at RCGC, a friend of mine brought up Rutgers’ Bridging the Gap Program. After meeting with the Head of Graphic Design, Allan Espiritu, and learning that my tuition could be fully covered by Bridging the Gap, I knew Rutgers was where I was meant to be! There weren’t any other universities in my area that were as close, cost effective, and had a suitable design or marketing program.
2. How was the transition from RCGC to Rutgers – Camden?
The transition was actually pretty seamless. Almost all of my classes transferred without any issue. Talking to advisors and peers also helped me figure out how to navigate all of the resources Rutgers has to offer.
3. That is great to hear, we have many students transfer in from RCGC and become very involved. You joined the Arts Students League (ASL) upon arrival. What got you into arts and design growing up?
Ever since I can remember, anything creative has always drawn me in. My mother tells me I was already drawing forced perspective at 5 years old, the medium being crayon scribbles of course. Because I was homeschooled, I could easily finish all of my work and then spend the rest of that time painting and drawing. Little did I know that this gave me an advantage of being able to hone my skills so that I knew what I wanted to do for my major. I’ve had my hands in all sorts of mediums ranging from photography, collage, painting, drawing, book-binding, knitting, sewing, weaving, paper folding, ceramics, and more. The only way to merge all of these skills and make myself marketable was to become a graphic designer!
4. That’s tremendous! Last year you decided to minor in marketing, what was your thought process behind tying those two fields together?
Although the design field is somewhat saturated, most designers don’t have the marketing know-how needed to differentiate themselves. Time and time again, I’ve heard how design and marketing teams often work closely together. Almost every design job I’ve found suggested marketing experience, and almost every marketing position required design experience! It seemed like a no-brainer to combine the two! Additionally, my illustration background further sets me apart. This killer combo helps me be more marketable; not just for marketing jobs, but for marketing myself as a brand.
5. It’s amazing that with all you do, you still have time and energy to work on-campus! What have you gotten out of your on-campus work experiences?
There are so many great aspects of working here at Rutgers–Camden. Through being a student worker, I was able to earn money to finance my studies while also gaining real-world experience in my field before I graduate. So many jobs expect you to have two to three years of design experience and because of Rutgers-Camden, I can use that to set me apart. I am also grateful to my bosses for continually supporting me and giving me input on how I can improve as a professional. Not only are they my coworkers, but they have also become my friends.
6. Sounds like you’ve really gotten everything you can out of those experiences! While your commencement means losing you as our Student Worker Graphic Designer, we are so excited to see what the future holds for you. What do you have going on off-campus?
This past summer, I began an internship at Atkin Olshin Schade Architects where I’ve put together proposals and presentations as well as improved my digital marketing. This internship was originally supposed to last until the end of the summer, however they liked me so much that they kept me on! I also freelance on the side for various clients, like the Alice Paul Institute for their NJ Women Vote marketing campaign. After graduation, I plan on working for a design or ad agency in Philadelphia, although I am also looking into a graphic design internship for Disney.
7. What a head-start you have on other future designers! What has surprised you the most about Rutgers – Camden from the time you arrived?
Rutgers–Camden is both very big and small; small enough that you can forge close relationships with peers and professors, but big enough that there are numerous opportunities & resources available. I’m so glad I came here! I was also surprised at the diversity of this close-knit campus. Because so many cultures and ethnicities come together here, I have been able to become more open as a person and learn so many things I wouldn’t have otherwise.
8. What’s one piece of advice that you would give to other community college students looking to transfer?
It’s your responsibility to push yourself to be better. If you can, try to improve your skills before you come to college; you’ll be so much better prepared! Once you do get to college, be as involved as you can with activities on-campus and off-campus! Take advantage of all of the opportunities you can. Make great friends, and connect with your teachers!