Keeping Up With The Coal Crew - May 2021

For the second year in a row, graduation season is more subdued than normal. Regardless of the ceremony, college and high school seniors are moving those tassels from the right to the left. It’s quite a time to set sail on the sea of adulthood.

We asked the Coal Crew  for their best advice for the class of 2021. Our team of designers, developers, videographers and a bunch of multi-hyphenates offers a little guidance for those who want to follow us into the creative agency world.

For Sam O’Connell, our Creative Director, creating is key.

“If your passion is in the creative realm, and you plan on pursuing a career in this field — use your free time to create  work that you are proud of, and feel best represents you and your creative ability. Have fun creating and hone your skills, personal style while you do it! Use this work to create a portfolio — which is  (in my opinion) almost as — if not more — powerful when seeking out a job in this field than any other resume line item,” Sam explained.

Lead Web Developer and Designer, Matt Simoncavage, also points to the importance of a portfolio.

“My advice for anyone interested in the fields of graphic design or web design would be to start building a great portfolio” Matt said. “In my experience, there is nothing more important than being able to show your work, especially if it’s interactive, tells the story of your growth as a designer and displays a variety of styles and strengths.”

Will McHale, Post Production Manager, agrees, adding you should seize as many opportunities as you can to sharpen your skills. 

“My advice to anyone looking to enter the field of video production is to take on as many projects as you can. This doesn’t mean only projects in a professional capacity, but personal creative endeavors. If you’re not sure where to begin, seek out opportunities to shadow or apprentice someone in the field. The best way to learn is to keep practicing and making mistakes. The sooner you can begin making lots of mistakes, the sooner you’ll start molding yourself into an expert in your field,” Will shared.

Creating and improving is certainly important.  Alex Manganella, Coal Creative’s Production Manager, takes a step back with advice about inspiration.

“If you’re interested in pursuing videography in the realm of marketing, pay attention to the brands that you like. Whether you’re looking to emulate their style or trying to find a way to work with them, you have to break down what exactly makes them feel unique. It’s so important to be able to identify what’s at the heart of the story you’re trying to tell, and it takes time to develop the tools that allow you to do that. So next time you can’t skip an ad on YouTube, pay attention. If you like it, figure out why. If you don’t, really make sure you figure out why. Discovering what works starts with discovering what doesn’t,” Alex said.

You might be done learning in the classroom, but the lessons will keep coming.

“Your education doesn’t stop once you graduate. In the technology field it is important to stay on top of the latest trends. Now that the lessons come from outside the classroom, try to make it fun with projects you think would be cool. So you’ll stay motivated to improve.” John Martin, Coal’s Web Specialist said.

“Learn everywhere you can,” said, Samantha Bucher; Coal Creative’s Content Manager & Design Specialist “Whether that means reading a book, taking a class, or watching a YouTube tutorial it’s important to keep your brain and skills active. You’ll be surprised where inspiration can strike. Even sitting down with your grandfather and teaching him how to set up his Facebook account can give you a lot of insight into how different generations think about marketing and social media.” 

While some lessons have come to Samantha organically; Travis Antoniello, Coal’s Web Developer, has sought out new skills online.

“I would tell anybody interested in web development not to underestimate the power of YouTube —there are some really cool people pouring their soul into free tutorials, some of which are fantastic teachers, “Travis explained. “You can get a crash course in just about anything as a starting point, and then branch out from there into specifics to solidify your skills.” 

For Project Manager Jeremy Brown, specific tools have been essential to his work in the field. 

“Learn how to organize information not only for your own use, but for others. My go-to for this is Google Docs and especially Google Sheets. For Sheets, learning how to implement basic table formatting and how to set-up things like conditional formatting will go a long way to making your information easily understood,” said Jeremy.

At this moment your career is just beginning. Things will change and decisions will need to be made. 

“Stay open to the journey. Try not to think of everything as the “right” or “wrong” choice in your life but rather a decision that will help you learn more about yourself and the world around you,” CEO Holly Pilcavage  said. “Additionally, if you find yourself wanting to be in a leadership role in whatever you pursue in life, remember to take care of your people first. Treat everyone with kindness and respect and give them space to be and become their best selves. Everything else tends to fall into place from there.” 

“Get ready for a ride,” Adam Roberts, Content Writer, asserted. “When I graduated college in 2009, I assumed I’d get a job, work a few decades at the same place then retire. It was the path my parents were on. Why wouldn’t life transpire that way for me? It hasn’t been like that. There have been ups and downs. In my experience, the world of work is wild and weird. My advice is to embrace the uncertainty. You have experience in that already. Lean into the journey, try to have fun and follow your instincts.”

In the same vein, we’ll leave you with some advice from a fellow COVID grad, Business Development Manager, Camaryn Lokuta.

“I graduated at the height of a global pandemic (May 2020) — just before that in January of 2020 I began putting my resume out everywhere… any I mean EVERYWHERE. I wanted so badly to have a job lined up before graduation — obviously life had other plans for me. Nobody was hiring — it was just the opposite actually. Every time I talked to my older friends I was hearing about a new person getting laid off. I was discouraged to say the least. I decided to take this as an opportunity to relax before “real life” started. Fast forward to August 2020 and I get an email from Holly (Coal Creative’s CEO) asking if I was available to have a chat about possibly coming on the team and the rest is history. My name was given to her by someone I worked with during an internship in the summer of 2019. My advice to every new grad is to always take every opportunity to network, because you never know how it might change your life one day!” 

Good luck to the class of 2021. We can’t wait to see what you create. And remember, stay coal! 


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