Alumni in Print – Where Are They Now? – Marla Mrowka

January 4, 2018

The Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation is publishing profiles featuring some of their more than 6000 former scholarship recipients. This series gives you an up close and personal insight into the thoughts and motivations of the former students who are a part of our industry today. As our current employees reach retirement and leave, replacing them becomes an increasingly important factor for many companies. Here is one story…

A Profile

Marla Mrowka

Marla Mrowka attended the Rochester Institute of Technology, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts, New Media Design & Imaging (major) in 2010.

How did you first get interested in the graphic arts, or decide to focus on graphic communications in school?

I have always been interested in graphic arts for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I taught myself simple code in order to create websites, which led to a lifelong interest in “figuring it out.”

Did you take any courses in high school that were related to graphic communications, or that prepared you for your planned career?

I took a few tech classes in high school relating to Photoshop use and hands-on graphic arts like screen printing, some of which were independent study. I also was involved in photography and art classes throughout high school.

How do you think going through your education process prepared you for the workforce?

At RIT, students are taught how to problem-solve, along with learning various graphic programs and 2D / 3D techniques. I collected a wide variety of tools to prepare me for any problem I encountered in the workforce.

In the Workforce Today

What company are you working for now and what types of products and services do they provide to their customers?

I worked in the advertising industry for six years after graduating, first at The Martin Agency in Richmond, Virginia, then at social media agency Vaynermedia in New York City. Though I had a successful career, I was interested in expanding my knowledge to another area of study. I am now attending graduate school at the Rhode Island School of Design for interior architecture, with expected graduation June 2018.

PGSF Donate NowWhat job did you first have with the company when you started, what position do you have now, and/or what else have you done since joining the company?

Upon graduating RIT, I was offered an entry level position as a digital artist at The Martin Agency. After almost two years, I moved up to NYC and joined Vaynermedia as a designer. From there, I progressed to senior art director, where I co-managed a team of writers and designers working with the social media accounts of entertainment brands.

What do you think employers are looking for in today’s workforce and the current industry environment?

Employers look for multi-faceted individuals who don’t shy away from a challenge. They are looking for adaptability and people who are quick on their feet. In my experience, technical ability comes second to soft skills like being able to work in a team and communicate efficiently. Though technical skills can be taught, coming fully-loaded is always a plus!

Is there anything that you have found to be particularly different from what you initially expected, now that you’ve progressed through your work career for a period of time?

As a freshman, going into school at RIT, I did not think that I would end up in advertising, or moving on from there to another career altogether. I’ve learned a great deal about the professional world, and the skills I’ve picked up along the way will only help me as I progress to the next chapter.

Have you changed your plans or ideas about what area or type of job you might like to have since you first considered the graphic communications field and began studying for a career in it?

My skills as a graphic artist have already been a huge aid to me during my transition to interior architecture and design. I feel I bring more to the table than a traditional architect, and therefore (hopefully) will be readily employed upon graduation!

What do you see yourself doing a few years from now?

My hope is to begin my interiors career with a small company in order to gain experience in a variety of tasks in a short period of time. I feel that if working in a larger company, I would be assigned to a single task and not be able to experience and learn many facets of the business. Eventually, I hope to be self-employed, either by freelancing or owning a business.

Was being a recipient of a PGSF scholarship important, or did it have an impact on your future or ability to succeed in the industry?

Yes! Education is extremely expensive, and every little bit helps. PGSF has always been a supportive organization, and I’m appreciative of the time and effort they’ve invested into my education.

Print and Graphics Scholarship FoundationPGSF works to inform young people about the opportunities that are available in the graphic arts industry and then support them during their educational phase. To learn more about PGSF, or how you can support its work, visit www.pgsf.org or contact John Berthelsen at jberthelsen@printing.org. PGSF is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

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