Welcome back to the third and final installation of a special Shop Talk series! In the Graduation Edition, we’ve been covering everything recent college grads need to know about getting a job after college, from finding an opportunity that suits your goals to acing the interview.  

In Part Three, we’re focusing on what happens once you’ve got the job. Once again, we asked a few members of our Aerie fam to share their career insights. In this Shop Talk, they answer questions about how to remain successful in your new job and throughout your career, covering everything from how to navigate on-the-job challenges to how to stay inspired during your day-to-day. 

See what Aerie Video Editor Alyssa Ahrens, Aerie Print Designer Kaci Maden and unsubscribed UX/UI Designer Martha Vandemortel have to say in our Q&A below!  

How did you learn the skills it takes to be successful in your job? 

Martha: During the pandemic, when everything felt still, I took some time to reevaluate what was working in my life. I had been working in apparel design and production for the past 4 years and had known for a while that it wasn’t the right fit. I had developed a passion for graphic design, web design and photography while working on my own brand.  

After a long discussion with a college friend, I decided to sign up for FIT’s UX/UI Design Course. I had incredible professors teach me design software, industry standards and how to approach design and functionality. My soft skills (working hard, being a strong team player, and having a good attitude) also carried over into a new industry.

I had incredible professors teach me design software, industry standards and how to approach design and functionality. My soft skills (working hard, being a strong team player, and having a good attitude) also carried over into a new industry.

Martha Vandemortel, unsubscribed UX/UI Designer

What are key things to remember when you first join a new company/job? 

Alyssa: It’s super important to understand exactly what your role is. It’s great to be eager and show enthusiasm for the company but trying to do too much too soon can sometimes be a bad thing. For example, when I started a new job, one of my coworkers was out of the office so I took on one of their tasks thinking it was time sensitive and I would be helping. Instead, I should have asked someone if doing this task was necessary or if it would be better to wait for my colleague to return to work. 

What have been the biggest challenges for you as you’ve navigated your career? 

Alyssa: My biggest challenge has been sticking to one lane and not knowing exactly what career path I want to be on. It makes it more difficult to move up in the ranks of a company or get a higher title if you’re always changing what you want to do, but taking on new opportunities can have its benefits as well. I’ve been able to work for several great companies and meet people from all over the world by being open to new job opportunities. All in all, it really matters what’s most important to you. 

How would you recommend staying positive amid challenging work situations? 

Martha: I use to feel more sensitive in challenging work situations and I think the best way to handle them is to not take anything personally and stay calm and polite. In an old job, I had a boss get angry with me and felt very overwhelmed. I then realized that my boss was getting yelled at by their boss and that it wasn’t me but rather a trickle-down of stress and frustration.  

Remember that your superiors are dealing with higher stakes and more responsibility. When working with your boss, remember not to take everything personally and do your best to help alleviate tasks. This will help you work well as a team to be the most calm and efficient.    

How do you let your personal brand shine while staying dedicated to your career? 

Alyssa: I always try to find something the resonates with me when working on a project. Since I’m a video editor, a lot of the time I use music in a piece to help tell the story or to help me figure out the style of the edit. Music supervising was one of my first jobs and I’m always looking for new fun music or music I can edit to fit better with Aerie videos. 

I always try to find something the resonates with me when working on a project.

Alyssa Ahrens, Aerie Video Editor

In what ways do you ensure a healthy work-life balance? 

Kaci: When I find myself thinking about work outside of working hours, I’ll write down notes on ideas I need to finish out come Monday morning so that my tasks don’t cut into my weekend. During COVID it’s been harder because I work and live at home, so I try to do extra little things such as actually taking my lunch by stepping away from my computer, playing with my cats for a couple of minutes or stepping outside to enjoy the sun. 

When I find myself thinking about work outside of working hours, I’ll write down notes on ideas I need to finish out come Monday morning so that my tasks don’t cut into my weekend.

Kaci Maden, Aerie Print Designer

How do you stay knowledgeable and on top of the latest news & trends in your field?  

Kaci: My secret weapon: my 15-year-old little sister and all her friends! Outside of that, I can’t really say that I actively have a process or set of resources that I use. I think the key to staying knowledgeable about the field is being willing to research. I typically start with the classics like Google, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, etc. As a graphic designer, I like to check out Designspiration or Unsplash if I feel a creative brain fog coming on. Skillshare is a great place to learn how to do stuff if I need something a little more concise than YouTube. 

Good luck out there, Aerie fam! You’re gonna crush it. Is there anything we didn’t cover that you’d like to see in a future Shop Talk? Let us know in the comments! 

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