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Herzing Graphic Design Grad, Jason Tavares, Shares Career Experience & Smart Advice for New Students

Jan 18, 2017

Jason Tavares, Herzing College Montreal, Graphic/Web Design, class of 2006

Considering website design or graphic design training, but not quite sure what a career in this field looks like? Or if you have what it takes to succeed over the long term?

When it comes to choosing a professional path, nothing beats hearing directly from someone who’s walked that road—and done so successfully—for the past ten years.

This month, we sat down with Jason Tavares, who graduated from Herzing Montreal with a Graphic Design diploma back in 2006, and has been working in the field and expanding his skillset ever since.

In this interview, he talks candidly about the different positions he’s held in design, the top challenges he thinks new designers face, and the “dream job” he’s still aiming for.

You’ll also find some sage words of advice for newcomers about what it really takes to succeed in the rapidly evolving world of design. Thank-you Jason, for sharing your insights.

Can you tell us what sparked your interest in graphic/web design, and why you enrolled in Herzing?

At first, it was graphic design that caught my eye. I remember seeing some amazing graphics online and wanting to know how to create them myself. The transition to web design came later because I knew websites were the next big step, and a logical expansion of my design skillset.

The decision to choose Herzing was based entirely on the admissions interview. I was inspired by how the advisor laid out the program’s courses, what skills were taught, different career paths, etc.  Every question was answered.

But what made the experience truly great was my teacher. He was tremendous.

What was your first job in graphic design after graduation?  Where did you work?

My first job was as a Junior Designer at the head office of a big sports apparel company in Edmonton, Alberta. It wasn’t the most exciting role, but I definitely learned a lot.  You need a position like that right after graduating to learn the ropes, apply what you’ve learned, and gain confidence. After the Junior Designer job, I was able to land work with various agencies and publishing companies.

You tried freelancing for a while, right? What advice would you give designers looking to freelance?

Freelancing is all about preparation. You must be ready before you make that leap. Lock in some clients while you’re still working at your current job. Make sure you know what you’re going to offer as an alternative when a client asks for something you can’t accommodate. Be ready to work around the clock, at least at first, while you’re getting the ball rolling.

Major advantages? The freedom. Nothing beats being your own boss, but you need to be disciplined and work harder than ever before. Never stop learning new things so you can offer more services to clients.

Can you tell us a bit about what it’s like working at a marketing agency?

I’ve been at a Montreal-based marketing agency called Higher Education Marketing (HEM) for about 3 years now. We help educational institutions (schools, colleges, universities, master programs, etc.) get discovered online and attract more students.

The majority of my work at HEM is web-based (websites, landing pages, banners), but there are some print tasks sometimes.

At the agency, the main challenge is staying on top of so many projects at once. We handle graphic/web design projects for a lot of clients simultaneously, and quite often, deadlines overlap. I get to work very closely with each client, and the main reward is knowing I’ve fully satisfied their expectations.

One of my proudest moments at HEM was designing Herzing College’s brand new website—it really felt like coming full circle!

What’s the advantage of working at an agency?  The diversity of design projects. You won’t get bored, that’s for sure.

What are your future goals as a web/graphic designer? Is there someplace in particular you’d love to work?

I suppose working at a major tech company like Google would be great, but I think working for the NHL would be a solid choice for me since I’m such a huge hockey fanatic. It’s important to keep reaching for positions at organizations you feel passionate about.

What additional skills have you found it useful to build while working in web/graphic design?

Knowing some code and search-engine-optimization (SEO) is a great asset. But most of all,  I would say that being on top of new design trends and having fresh ideas is most important for becoming a great designer.

What new challenges do you think web/graphic designers will face in the coming few years?

The first challenge that leaps to mind is the continued growth of device types and screen sizes out there. It can be difficult to design for the web with so many resolutions to worry about.

What qualities and skills do you think are most important for success in web/graphic design these days?

Communication skills are really important, as is analysis, logical thinking, and a sharp eye for detail. You must identify what the client wants versus what the client needs. A website (or app) always has a purpose. First and foremost, designers must determine what that purpose is, and ensure their design helps the user easily achieve the goal.

If you could offer one piece of career advice to up-and-coming web/graphic designers, what would it be?

Work hard, really push yourself, and be confident in what you were taught in web and graphic design training.

Don’t just focus on making things look pretty. Being a designer isn’t just about being able to use design software—it’s about implementing those techniques in helpful and innovative ways, and applying the knowledge you’ve learned through experience. Always look to educate yourself further in the field. There’s always more to learn!

A big thank-you to Jason for talking with us about his own experience as a graphic/web designer in Montreal. We wish you continued success!

Are you looking for a reputable web design program in Montreal? Want to learn more about what is taught in web/graphic design training?

Take a look at Herzing College’s Web Designer & Graphic Design for Web Sites program, delivered at our Montreal campus.

Visit the program page for a complete list of graphic design courses, information about applying, and different career options. You can also chat online with a knowledgeable advisor or set-up a personal interview on campus. We’ll help you get started!

Click here to Visit Web Designer & Graphic Design for Web Sites Program Page

Categories: Graphic and Web Design
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