By Orrin Farries
If 2020 was a gauge of the human experience, it proved one thing: a lot can change in one year. The same holds true for the student experience at NAIT.
With many programs to choose from, entire careers can blossom from a transformative year in a program at NAIT. This was the case for Kelsey Baker, whose career in graphic design made its takeoff from NAIT’s one-year Graphic Communications certificate program.
“I wanted to get myself into a career where I would have the possibility of working online, then hopefully be able to be location independent and work in an industry where I don’t necessarily need to sit in an office,” said Baker.
With this program, Baker was given the skills and the confidence necessary to achieve her goal of working from home, a pandemic-savvy career move as it turned out.
“Right now, I work as a contractor out of Drayton Valley for their marketing and communications team,” she said.
“I do any design work that they need, […] I do their social media management, website management and updates. That’s sort of my bread and butter at this point.”
Graduating in 2018, Baker couldn’t have known that her program choice at NAIT would prove to be more ready for the pandemic than the population at large was. She found that the program at NAIT had her expectations well-tempered for the outset of the graphic design industry.
“They set us up pretty well for what to expect in the industry,” she said.
“The graphic communications team did a great job of giving a really good foundational skill set as to how the design programs work, and I left the program feeling really confident about how to use the program that obviously in six months, you know you’ve only just scratched the surface (of it).”
Like most NAIT programs, the graphic communications certificate program connects its students with industry professionals to prepare them for life after NAIT. Part of this process was a two-week practicum working with a professional, a dipping of the toes in the waters of the working world.
“The lady who I did my practicum with, she is now at a different job, and now [I’m] working with her again through the town of Drayton Valley, so it’s very weird,” said Baker of the networking opportunities that she had through her practicum at NAIT.
The value in programs like the Graphic Communications program at NAIT is that they give students the hard-skills in their trade of choice. They immerse them into the industry with professional contacts and provide them with the schooling and perspective to succeed after their time at NAIT.
“One of the most valuable things that the program did was in the critique of [the student’s] designs in class. What I learned is that what you sometimes think is the best version isn’t really what the client is looking for,” said Baker.
“So you need to be able to take criticism and changes all the time. You just need to be tough.”
The Graphic Design certificate program begins in September, runs until April and is followed by a two-week practicum. The students are released to bring life to the world with their focused creativity.
Following a two-week practicum at Martin Motorsports, where Baker worked with their in-house graphic designer, she found work with an oilfield company based in Calgary. She designed everything from annual reports to a coffee-table book for their employees. After that, she worked for a local podcast, producing their thumbnails, logo, and brand guides.
For Baker, what started as a one-year certificate at NAIT has blossomed into her full-time work, and she sees a world of opportunities from that one simple choice to go to NAIT.
Her goal is to transition into full-time freelancing in the future.
“I think being a bit more independent as far as my hours go, so in five years’ time, I want to be even more self-sufficient than I am now and have more variety [of work].”
“I like working in a field where I get to express myself, even if I’m creating something for someone else,” said Baker. “[…] Nothing I make is ever the same, and there is always a creative way to help others level up their businesses.”
For more information on the Graphic Communications program at NAIT click here.