Balancing Is Key to Job Success

(Profile originally published in Texas State Technical College’s Taking Charge: Your Education, Your Career, Your Life)

It’s only been four years since James Brown graduated from Texas State Technical College; however, he’s already the lead graphic designer for The Dwyer Group in Waco, Texas. Brown said he got the job because he consistently produced quality work and had the longest tenure out of all the Dwyer Group graphic designers at the time the position became available.

Brown, who also paints, said he was always interested in the arts. “Graphic design is not the only medium I work in,” Brown said. Brown’s affinity for computers and graphic design made his decision to study Advertising Design & Print Technology at TSTC Waco a natural choice.

One of Brown’s former TSTC professors, Michael Steele, was hired on at the Dwyer Group’s marketing department as creative director in 2006. After Brown graduated from TSTC, Steele asked him to apply for a graphic design position at the company. Brown was hired and has worked for the Dwyer Group ever since. He said it pays to make good connections.

As lead graphic designer for the Dwyer Group, Brown’s workdays consist of responding to emails, addressing emergencies that arise, working on projects, and overseeing projects the other designers are working on. Presently, he manages a team of three designers. Brown is responsible for proofing their work for quality, determining what needs to change, and ensuring edits are made.

Brown and his team of graphic designers are responsible for developing the graphics’ standards and branding identities for the majority of the Dwyer Group’s seven franchise businesses on the corporate, company, and franchise levels. The team designs for the entire North American division of the internationally-operated Dwyer Group. One of Brown’s major projects for the company was designing vehicle wraps for the various Dwyer Group fleets.

In addition to his job at the Dwyer Group, Brown also does his own freelance graphic design for clients. “Designers balance several projects at a time,” he said. Brown stays at work longer or comes into the office earlier to finish any work for the Dwyer Group he needs to complete. By doing this, Brown’s time at home is freed for work on freelance projects. In order to complete projects and meet deadlines successfully, designers must make a schedule, he said. Brown estimates how many hours each project will take to complete and “plots [the hours] on a calendar” or timeline accordingly.  “You won’t survive if you can’t balance several projects, meetings, and emergencies,” he said.

The same time management strategy works for students as well. Students have “multiple classes going on” at a time, Brown said. Consequently, they cannot focus on just a single task one day and another task the next. Brown, who waited tables and did an internship while attending TSTC, said it’s “critical and crucial” for students to learn how to multitask. He suggests students also look at the size of a project or an assignment, determine how much time they’ll need to complete it, and budget their time.

Brown also advises students to complete an internship before they graduate.

“Employers look for internships,” he said. “They’re not critical, but are a good mark on a resume.” Brown also stressed the importance of a student’s portfolio. “It’s critical to landing your first job,” he said. He suggests students save all the work they’ve completed while in school. Doing extra work and picking up freelance jobs and clients will also add more pieces to a portfolio. “Design as much as you can before you get to the end,” Brown said.

Rachel McGinnis