Student Spotlight: Cheryl Vargas
Cheryl Vargas wanted a career that combined all of the talents and skills she had acquired during her adult life.
So when she was ready to return to school and complete her degree, Vargas initially was attracted to a variety of areas.
“I’ve always been a creative person, but what inspired me to be a designer was Brian Blevins’ Graphic Design I class,” she said. “We had to reinterpret the written word into visual solutions, and I found I had a knack for communicating information visually. And the old building we were in before the program moved back into the MAC smelled like crayons and paint, and I love that smell!”
However, Vargas was not sure where or how she would fit into the graphic design field. Then she took Dave Rogers’ Project Planning I class and discovered that her strength is in organizing and leading a team to bring out the best in creative people. It prepared her for the 2014 One Club Creative Boot Camp sponsored by Leo Burnett Advertising Agency, for which she saw an announcement through COD’s AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) student group.
The One Club Creative Boot Camp is a four-day diversity initiative to recruit creative students from multicultural backgrounds who may not be aware of advertising or design as viable career options.
“I was intrigued because it was an opportunity to find out if I might be interested in an advertising career, and since I was still deciding what I wanted to be when I grow up, I decided to take a chance,” she said. “I also had just performed the same tasks two weeks prior to the Boot Camp in my Project Planning class.
“We worked on behalf of a real client, Fifth Third Bank, and followed a creative brief, solidified an overall concept, created a campaign and pitched it to a dozen of top Leo Burnett creatives who determined the best work from the 17 six-person teams.
“The judges loved our campaign idea and our team won the One Club Creative Boot Camp award. It was very exciting! As a result of winning, my team was offered interviews with Leo Burnett for a summer internship. Because I was a sophomore, the executive vice president who interviewed me in April advised me that I wasn’t quite ready for the summer internship. But she was impressed with my GPA, enthusiasm and energy and offered a special internship for me in fall 2014.”
Vargas has completed her associate’s degree and is now transferring to Concordia University.
“It’s exciting and scary at the same time,” she said. “This is a dream come true for me, getting my bachelor’s degree. I will have finally ‘arrived.’”
She also started a new boutique agency, Social Media Muscle, which offers social media promotion and web design for small businesses. Thanks to her experiences at College of DuPage and with the One Club Creative Boot Camp, Vargas is aiming high – she would like a job as a creative director for Leo Burnett.
“I don't think I can expect to snag that job straight out of school, but who knows? Anything is possible and that’s my goal,” she said. “I think COD is an awesome place to resume your education if you’ve been derailed a few times like I have.
“The Graphic Design program was so welcoming, and there was such a feeling that we’re all in this together. Instructors stayed after hours to help, we had the best in equipment and classrooms, and class offerings were constantly being updated to keep up with changing technology. That’s what you want in this field, to stay abreast of current trends so that you’re ready, with portfolio in hand, to land the job of your dreams.”
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