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Pickens Technical College’s Graphic Design program has sent many students on to successful careers in this highly competitive field. Competition is so tough in this industry because even though businesses and other organizations need a ton of graphics to advertise and build brands, they typically only hire one designer at a time to handle these tasks. The other option for most designers is to be a freelancer, handling smaller projects from different clients.

The key to breaking into this profession either as an in-house graphic designer or as a freelancer is having a professional-grade portfolio. One of the reasons why PTC’s Graphic Design program is so successful at placing students in professional roles after graduation is because all students are tasked with building their own resumes as a part of the class. Presenting your work well is the single most important factor in finding work after you’re done with Pickens.

One example of how your graphic design career can take you places with a little hard work and a professional portfolio is Justin Cox, the official graphic designer of the Colorado Rockies.

Justin Cox Shows Why You Should Take As Many Opportunities As Possible

As a graphic designer, you should always be looking for ways to use your skills to work on real projects, even if you have reservations. You must build your skill and portfolio, especially early in your career, even if you find only unpaid opportunities at first.

Justin Cox started his dream job for the Rockies only after years of working in many different positions for several organizations, not always paid. Cox graduated from Colorado State University in 2018, but he was involved in graphic design long before that. He worked as a freelance graphic designer since high school at William J. Palmer High School, working on anything he could get his hands on. By the time he arrived at CSU, he was a prime candidate to work at The Lory Student Center Marketing Shop, which he used to earn positions as a Graphic Design Intern for Colorado State Athletics, and a Marketing and Communications Associate for the Institute for the Built Environment.

By the time Cox graduated from CSU, he was also working as a Graphic Designer for Colorado State University Advancement, which led him to an opportunity with the Rockies after he graduated. Take a look at some of his work for the Rockies during their playoff run last year here.

What You Can Learn From Justin

You know that a portfolio is needed to advance your career, but hopefully, you’ve also gleaned from Cox’s success that exploring as many options to practice your craft as possible can lean to snowballing opportunities. You’d be surprised by how many organizations and companies out there can benefit from a good graphic designer who loves their craft and can add value.

For a good laugh, here’s Cox’s tribute to NHL legend and former Colorado Avalanche (for two days) defenseman Brooks Orpik.