Photo Courtesy of Rachel Catalano

Graphic designer and marketing major Rachel Catalano is a recent graduate of Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. Just shy of two years graduated from college and immersed in her career field, Catalano has seen much success in her ability to find full-time jobs. She currently works as a graphic designer for The Witte Museum in San Antonio, Texas.

Throughout her undergraduate career, Catalano worked hard at honing and perfecting her craft and spent much of her college career in a competitive program gaining experience and making valuable connections in the marketing and graphic design field. Catalano’s first major job outside of college was an unusual experience. “I was lucky enough to be a part of a degree program that dedicated the final semester to what was called an ‘Exit Review.’ This is an event where the graduating class at the time is tasked with building their own website and showcasing a digital portfolio to potential employers,” Catalano said.

This program, while difficult to manage during her final semester, spurred Catalano to succeed, helping her unlock confidence in her ability to create. “Had I not given it my all ahead of time, I don’t believe my portfolio would have been as successful. I knew at the time that the position I had just accepted was not the dream, nor did it sound all that stimulating, but I knew I had to start somewhere, and turning it down would have been a missed opportunity to gain experience in my field,” Catalano said.

Catalano has learned a lot outside of college and acknowledges most people’s experience will not come from what they learn from their professors but from the resilience and fortitude found from within oneself. “I was taught a lot of things in my program that don’t necessarily always apply to my experiences, and I will catch myself getting upset because of it. It can feel like a broken promise. But even though my experiences have not been what I expected, I have learned to adapt because of them,” Catalano said.

Catalano’s experience in the job field has been an unexpected blessing. She was given the opportunity to establish herself as an individual outside of college and figure out who she is as an artist and a professional. “I love what I do. I love that it keeps me on my toes, lets my creativity breathe, and that is what matters to me at the end of the day,” Catalano said.

Finding a job outside of college can be a scary and frustrating process, but it is important to leave most of the progress up to chance. “Go with the flow! Take what you can get. You never know where it might lead you. You don’t have to get it right the first time. I definitely didn’t, but I truly believe had I not taken that job that was less than ideal, I wouldn’t have gained a specific skill set that then gave me the opportunity to apply for a better job,” Catalano said.

Rachel’s let-it-be attitude comes from years of practice searching for jobs as a post-grad student. “Never feel like you have to stay in a situation you don’t thrive in. Never once while I was at school was I told to look into the museum world for an opportunity. I was told a design firm was my only ticket to love my job, and that definitely is not the case,” Catalano explained.

From one student to another, Catalano’s advice comes from a place of experience and collaboration with her peers. Through her post-grad journey, she has learned many lessons and taken many valuable steps in her undergraduate years that have equipped her with the tools for surviving in the career field after college. “Something that I never thought would be as valuable as it was, was communication with my peers. Conversation with one another ended up being one of the most valuable lessons I learned. Without conversation, connections will never form,” Catalano said.

Catalano’s story is not meant to idealize her as the model for success since success looks different for everyone. Instead, students can look to Catalano’s journey as a personal testimonial to what is possible when hard work, determination and thoughtful choices are made. Life after college does not have to be scary or intimidating. Students do not have to resign themselves to the belief that jobs are not out there for them, because like Catalano and her job at The Witte, students are the future of many businesses and institutions. Instead of letting fear lead the way, we should rejoice in the knowledge that great things, big or small, can be achieved. Work hard, celebrate each victory and remember: We are the future. Check out Rachel’s Instagram to see her retro designs with a modern twist:

https://www.instagram.com/rcat_creates/

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