Platt College Alumni Joan Olonan talks about life after Platt And How You Can Stand Out When Applying For Design Jobs
Here at Platt College San Diego, one of the things we love to celebrate is the success of our alumni! Joan Olonan’s story is one such story we couldn’t wait to share. Her hard work and determination have led her to the path of CEO for her company Evocial within only 2 years of graduating from Platt. Our social media coordinator, Natasha Englehardt, had an opportunity to sit down with Joan recently and ask her about life after Platt and what it’s like owning her own business.
Natasha: For our reader’s who may not know much about your background tell us a little bit about yourself and your time a Platt.
Joan: I started out in the graphic design program at Platt College back in 2011. It was during my time there that I really learned to refine some of the technical design skills I already had, while still learning new important skills as well. Before I was even done with school in 2013, Platt’s awesome Career Services team helped me get my first graphic design job. And I got the job on the first try!
The company told me it was my portfolio that ultimately got me the job. After 6 months of working in my graphic designer position I was quickly promoted to Marketing Specialist. Then 6 months after that I was promoted to the Marketing Manager position. I eventually left to take a job as Marketing Director at another company before branching off on my own to start my own marketing and advertising agency, Evocial.
Natasha: What was your favorite part about being a student at Platt College?
Joan: The small class sizes were great. I loved all of the teachers and being able to spend time around others who understood my passion. It was extremely inspiring and motivating.
Natasha: When did you first discover your talent and passion for marketing?
Joan: It all pretty much started when I was working my first graphic design job. My mentor at the time was the CEO of the company I was working for, so I learned a lot about marketing early on.
Natasha: What inspired you to start your own business?
Joan: When I was working as a Marketing Director. But realistically I’ve always had this dream of starting my own business. What can I say? I wanted to be my own boss and knew that I could make it work, so after careful planning I finally went for it!
Natasha: What were critical things you had to think about before starting your own business?
Joan: Definitely my education. I knew that I needed to understand all the ins and outs of having my own business. There are so many things you have to plan for and think about. You can’t just jump in without knowing what you’re doing first.
Natasha: What advice would you give to someone else who wants to start their own business?
Joan: Find yourself a mentor. Educate yourself. Create a life plan with your short term and long term goals. This will help you build a solid foundation to start with.
Natasha: As an employer what advice can you give someone starting their career as a graphic designer in college today?
Joan: Do a lot of freelance projects and a lot of interning in the design or advertising industry. The more work you do, the more you will learn and it will help you be more employable than others who didn’t put in the extra effort to expand their portfolio beyond class work.
Natasha: You’ve also started hiring interns to work with you at Evocial. What has that process been like?
Joan: I started off by meeting with the Platt College Career Services team. It seems that many students can have negative ideas about internships so I try to approach it more as a form of mentorship. This way the students can get help with things like self-management, problem solving skills and campaign building.
Most people in the industry know what school work and projects look like compared to professional work, so it’s important they work on building their portfolios outside of school. When you’re just starting off as a freelancer or working for a new company, it’s a good skill to learn to not be so quick to defend your work if the client doesn’t like it. It’s not about you, it’s about the audience the client is trying to reach.
Excellent advice from Joan! We appreciate her sharing her knowledge with our readers and look forward to our continued partnership with Evocial. Joan’s recently hired four of our current Platt College students to work with her as part of our internship program and we’re excited to see where this collaboration takes them!
To learn more about Joan’s agency, Evocial, be sure to visit their website Evocial.com for more!