The transition from university to the “real world” can be intimidating, especially for young professionals determining which path to take when applying their education to a profession. Mollie Mytinger, a junior graphic designer, joined us after graduating from the University of Kansas. Throw a global pandemic into the mix and Mollie had her work cut out. However, from day one, she hit the ground running and continues to leave an impact on her coworkers and clients alike.
We sat down with Mollie to learn more about her experience and any advice she has for those coming up on graduation and thinking about the changes coming with a full-time career.
Learn what she had to say:
Mollie: When searching for a job to kick-start my career, I looked for a place I could grow both professionally and personally. I feel the first job out of college can help create a path for future success, and I set my expectations high when sending applications. In my search, I looked at the firm’s projects, combed through employee testimonies on company websites, and asked around about different company cultures. When I came across Hollis + Miller, I was inspired by the prospect of being able to design for students and the opportunity to impact my local community.
Although my formal education was in visual communications rather than architecture, my experience provided me with a unique perspective pairing nicely with designing for educational environments. Some advice for those searching for a new position is to not box yourself in. Be open to opportunities outside your typical realm, even if you don’t check off all the requirements. It is common to learn new skills and processes during the first few months at a new position. It is a sign of a good company when they invest in their employees by providing resources and support to help you succeed.
Mollie: Starting a new career during a global pandemic provided a number of challenges, but also unique opportunities to meet with clients, gain knowledge and collaborate through a virtual lens. Working with my project team to help navigate client presentations, I uncovered one of my strong suits – connecting with clients. My first project doing environmental graphics was for a school I grew up just down the street from, which made it a really cool experience for me. The new elementary school, Westwood View in Shawnee Mission, replaced an existing historical building and recently opened this past fall.
I was able to design immersive graphics that tie in the history of the neighborhood with the new building, connecting students and using the building itself as a learning tool. Geometric shapes and fun nature room markers allow the building itself to be utilized as a learning tool and integrated into curriculum from kindergarten to sixth grade. It’s been so rewarding to see first-hand how my creative work has been able to impact students. It was surreal to watch the process unfold in front of me, from start to finish – watching sketches and mockups coming to life, and navigating the fabrication construction process for graphics now holding a permanent place in a building. Knowing thousands of students will walk these halls and see my creations is a really rewarding feeling. I was also able to play a key part in developing a new initiative at Hollis + Miller, impacting the way a building’s design can act as a teaching tool for students and staff. Overall, the project was a valuable experience pushing me to find my voice and gave me the confidence I have today.
Mollie: Looking back, I’m proud to see how far I’ve come since joining Hollis + Miller. My knowledge and confidence both within the industry and personally have grown significantly. Most of all, I’ve learned it’s okay not to know everything. My advice to those moving into a new phase of life is to take every opportunity presented to you and work on those informal connections with coworkers or industry professionals. Each person has knowledge and experience to help you learn, and being open to developing relationships goes a long way. It might seem scary and new, but ultimately your experience will be what you make of it, and setting yourself up for success starts with hard work, confidence in your abilities, and not being afraid to ask questions.