Giving BackBrier's Wichita State University Presentation

June 14, 2019

I was asked to speak about my experiences and work to the Professional Practices class for the graphic design students at Wichita State University and give any tips I had about the graphic design industry. Thank you, WSU, for inviting me to share my experience. As a previous student, I valued the knowledge that other speakers brought to class and believe that they helped me gain the skills that brought me to Cassandra Bryan Design.

First Steps

My journey started in high school, where I traded in my football cleats for a mouse and keyboard. I joined the web team at Bishop Carroll, which gave me the opportunity to learn the skills of programs like Photoshop and Illustrator. These skills led me to my first few projects, like designing the Bishop Carroll logo. Projects like this gave me a boost of confidence going into my Freshman year at WSU.

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    A great way to start getting your name out there is by finding pro bono projects. Whether it is flyers, brochures, logos, or buttons, take all the opportunities you can. Yes, it is free and may not sound that appealing, especially as a poor college student, but the experience is just as important. Another important part of college is homework. As a designer, I did not think of my projects as homework for my professor but as projects that were given to me by a client. Changing my mindset pushed me when designing because I knew that my work had to meet a certain standard. Two factors that will help take it to that level are pushing it further and time management.

Push It

A common phrase from my professors was, “You’re almost there but push it more.” I always thought, “What more can I do?”  I’ll save you the time and give you some ideas to take your design to the next level.

  • Homepage design
  • App design
  • Social media marketing plan
  • Focus on the small details and have a reason for everything
  • Create your own mockups
  • Animation

Take two or three of these ideas and make it your own. Going above and beyond will impress your professor and will improve your portfolio massively.


Who Needs to Sleep?

Believe me, I love my sleep. So it pains me to tell you this, but sometimes you have to sacrifice your nights to make sure that your project is in tip-top shape. You have four years to prepare yourself for the future. I couldn’t count the nights I stayed up till 5 am finishing a project to make sure that I was proud of it, not that it simply met the guidelines.

The Ultimate Super Power

Now that your projects are finished, it is time to get some feedback. My secret to reaching out for feedback is coffee. Everyone’s weakness is coffee, and now that I’m a full-time designer, I run on coffee. Knowing this, I knew that I had to take advantage of my peers and use it as a way to get my foot in the door. A simple email asking for a portfolio review or shadow opportunity along with some coffee is how many of my reviews started. Lucky for me, Cassandra and Joey from cb{d} were some of those people.

After meeting with your reviewer, make sure to take their feedback and apply those changes to your portfolio as soon as you can. Don’t forget to send them a thank you letter or email. Who knows? They may follow up with an opportunity at their workplace.

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    The Interview

    Hopefully, with your hard work, an opportunity arises for an interview. This is the most nerve-racking part of anyone’s journey. For me, the amount of interview and review experience made it a little easier. Since Freshman year, I was shadowing, getting reviews, and applying for any design job I could find. A few things I learned before and during an interview are:

  • Stay positive! Remember you are there for a reason

  • Bring a couple of copies of your resume, cover letter, and portfolio

  • Practice what you are going to say and how you will present your work