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Penn State graphic design graduate earns dream job

By Carlie Fox, Writing Intern, College of Arts and Architecture 

Recent Penn State graphic design graduate Colleen Wade landed her dream job at Burton Snowboarding Company in Burlington, Vermont.

Wade, an alumna of the Graphic Design program in the College of Arts and Architecture, now works as a production designer on the Go-to-Market Squad within Burton Global Marketing. Her daily routine consists of drinking lots of coffee and creating content for various campaigns, including the Holiday Campaign and the Winter Family Campaign, which she is currently developing with her team.

Wade, who graduated in 2019, said her Penn State education prepared her well for this position. From her internship opportunities, exposure and hands-on experience in the field, Wade felt confident in her abilities to tackle this new chapter. She said her professors offered respectful criticism, honesty and encouragement when it came to her work.

“Some of my favorite professors at Penn State include Ryan Russell, Sarah Rich and Lonnie Graham,” said Wade.

While all of these professors helped strengthen her skills as a designer, Wade said Graham was one of those professors she saw herself staying in touch with past her academic career.

“Not only is [Lonnie] an amazing fine art photographer, but he is also filled with knowledge and wisdom on life. He was one of my biggest mentors and supporters at Penn State and still is to this day,” said Wade.

Wade said the most rewarding part of her job is being able to work within an industry she is passionate about. She gained a greater respect for snowboarding once she entered college; the sport became an influence not only in her career, but her personal life. 

“Seeing the board art on the mountain was my first exposure to what design can become. Skiing and snowboarding were also my gateway to further exploring winter outdoor sports and becoming a guide for Penn State Outdoor Adventures,” said Wade.

Wade’s position landed her the opportunity to meet some incredible riders, including Kelly Clark, who Wade considers one of the most accomplished snowboarders in history.

Wade is a prime example of the phrase, “If you are doing what you love, it will never feel like work.” Although sitting at a desk for hours at a time can be daunting, Wade said being surrounded by a group of passionate people who are all working towards creating the best content possible is surreal.

Wade said it’s rare to have the opportunity to be creative in a corporate space, but she is fortunate enough to be exposed to and pursue design at Burton.

Wade urges current students to always stay humble and be open to criticism.

“View your education as an opportunity to explore as many things as you are interested in and want to learn about,” said Wade. “Get weird and fail a few times—it’s a great way to learn.”

While she has no current plans beyond Burton—besides possibly getting a dog—Wade said she is taking every experience as it comes and dealing with it in the moment. 

Originally published by the College of Arts and Architecture.

Black and white portrait of Colleen Wade