Finding Your Fit: Graphic Design Alum Shares Her Experience on Working in an Unexpected Industry

By: The Art Institutes Filed under: Visual Design

January 23, 2018

headshot of Pat Betwoski

When Pamela Beltowski worked in veterinary offices as a receptionist and veterinary assistant, she enjoyed her work, but she always jumped at the chance to design office signs, posters, or brochures.
In 2014, Pam decided it was time to commit fully to pursuing a career in graphic design, and so she enrolled at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh—Online Division. While earning her Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design, Pam juggled a busy schedule, working part-time and taking on a paid internship that required 20 illustrations per week for a series of coloring books now available on Amazon.

Today, not quite a year out from graduating with her bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design in spring 2017, Pam is glad she put in the long hours and effort. “Best thing I ever did,” she says.

Now employed as a Graphic Designer for the company Bath Fitter, Pam works for national brands that include Homespire Windows & Doors, Kitchen Saver, National Refacing Systems - Lowes, and Bath Fitter. She describes her role, as “all things graphic design,” with her responsibilities including print and digital ads, web graphics, illustrations, posters, animations, video editing, emails, website updates, photo editing, and more.

Pam loves the work but admits that she almost didn’t take the position, as the thought of being limited to designing around bathtubs gave her pause.

“This opportunity turned out to be so much more than I expected,” she says. “The owners are big on being part of the community and also creating a strong company culture. My job involves design work for Bath Fitter and the other brands, but it’s also designing for internal communications and company events. With so many locations around the country, there’s always a lot going on that I get to contribute to."

For example, when the company sponsored the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk in several states, Pam designed the event t-shirts and memorabilia handed out at the event.

Her typical day starts by reviewing her tasks and discussing her priorities with the art director. “Then it's design, design, design!,” she says. “There is no end to bouncing around between one project to another, with several revisions in between. Throw in the occasional marketing meeting to discuss new campaigns and project ideas and that about sums up my job.”

Within the role, Pam works with several other members of a creative team, and she’s glad to have refined her collaboration and teamwork skills at The Art Institute. “Being able to give and receive feedback that is constructive is so important,” she says. “We all specialize in different aspects of graphic design, so I help bring a fresh approach in regards to illustration to our projects.”

Beginning with the day she started, Pam constantly draws on what she learned in her graphic design classes. “During my first week on the job all I could think was, ‘I learned this!’ and ‘I know this!’”

Of course, from learning about the Bath Fitter industry to further exploring web design, she’s still had to keep refining and expanding her skills over time. “They tell you in your courses, you always have to stay on top of trends, and you’re always learning. It’s very true,” she says. “You have to be a learner. You can’t just graduate and be done.”

With her success so far, Pam is glad she made the decision to earn her degree and keep pushing through the times when she felt overwhelmed balancing school and work. There were moments when she felt like giving up and quitting, but, with support from her friends and family, she remained committed to achieving her goals.

“Every day at this job, I have been experiencing the benefits of the hard work I put into my degree at the Art Institutes,” she says. “Being able to work for a company that requires the set of skills that I have is so rewarding.”

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By: The Art Institutes Filed under: Visual Design

January 23, 2018

graphic design graphic design program