Wanted: Creative People with Tech Skills

Every spring, students enrolled in Flathead Valley Community College’s Graphic Design and Web Technology programs have the opportunity to meet with graduates who are employed as design and development professionals. Several FVCC graphic design and web tech alum recently took time out from their busy schedules to return to campus and share some of the things they’ve learned since graduation. Here’s a snapshot of some of their best advice:

Becca Wheeler, A.A.S. Web Technology and A.A.S. Graphic Design, spoke with the students about her work as a multimedia graphic designer for the Glacier Conservancy, a nonprofit organization that supports education, preservation and research in Glacier National Park. As the creative lead for the organization, Becca spends her days designing marketing materials and creating artwork for a variety of projects.

Becca advised the students to adopt a confident mindset about their abilities as designers and to continue to seek out opportunities to expand their knowledge and develop their skills after graduation.

Tyler Rasmussen, A.A.S. Web Technology, is employed as a user-interface developer for the Whitefish-based ZaneRay Group, a company that creates eCommerce websites for clients around the world. Tyler’s sage advice to the students was to get comfortable with branching out into other areas that support their core focus. In other words, small companies rely on their employees to be versatile, and employees who know how to do more than one thing will have a better chance of succeeding in competitive fields.

Sharilyn Fairweather, A.A.S. Graphic Design, works as a multimedia design specialist for Flathead Electric Cooperative, where she draws upon her diverse skills to keep the electric company on brand and looking good. She echoed Tyler’s advice and encouraged students to be adaptable and willing to learn.

Sonesta Josephsen, A.A.S. Web Technology and A.A.S. Graphic Design, graduated in 2018 and was immediately swooped up by Bigfork-based Quel Design, where she works as a project manager for clients both big and small. “Without these degrees, I would not have this job that I love,” Sonesta said. Her advice… complete your degree! Two of Sonesta’s former classmates, Jessica Lodien and Otilia Tonjum, are also employed at Quel as designers.

Each of the alum who spoke with the students was optimistic about the local job market for people with graphic design and web technology skills, and several of them said they routinely turn down offers of freelance work because they are too busy. As Northwest Montana continues to grow, so does the need for creative people with technical skills and flexible mindsets.

For more information about FVCC’s Graphic Design and Web Technology degree programs, visit www.fvcc.edu/graphic-design and www.fvcc.edu/web-technology or contact FVCC Jori Bullemer at jbullemer@fvcc.edu or (406) 756-3905.