Creative expression is everywhere. From music and dance to writing and drawing, people are always looking for an outlet to express themselves. While many of us may not possess the skills to turn our hobbies into a career, for Hodges University student Sasha Singh, the ability to be creative is a necessary tool for anyone looking to be successful.
As a digital design and graphics student, Singh views design as a “way to express myself as an artist.” Interested in art and design from a young age, she moved from Guyana, South America, to Long Island, New York, at 5 years old. In 2005, her father, who works as a draftsman, received a job opportunity in Southwest Florida, so the family moved to Cape Coral.
Fascinated by the work her father does in creating street maps and buildings using AutoCAD, a computer-aided software program, her passion for art and design grew in such a way that after high school, she set her sights on attending an arts school. However, after being accepted, the cost of tuition was too high, so she opted to stay closer to home.
“I desperately wanted to attend an arts school, but we couldn’t afford it. I knew I wanted to pursue design, and Hodges was the only school in the area to offer a digital design and graphics program,” she explained.
Impressed by the university’s accreditation, small campus and tailored program, she enrolled in fall 2012 to pursue an Associate in Science in digital design and graphics in the Fisher School of Technology. Taking classes focusing on print and interactive media design, as well as the design and production of various graphics using CAD, Singh was excited to grow within the program.
“I’ve always been fascinated by computers,” she said. “It was great to be able to recognize that design is just another sector of the arts and the whole ‘starving artist’ wasn’t necessary in order to do what I love.”
While pursuing her degree, Professor Chip McElroy recommended Singh to serve as a graphic design tutor. During the summer, she assisted students between classes, looking at their projects and walking them through various steps, saying, “Many of the people who came in were not design majors, but I really enjoyed teaching them what I had learned.”
For a brief time, Singh also served as the president of the Graphic Design Club. Discussing the design needs of Hodges, she enjoyed the opportunity to get to know fellow students, collaborate on projects and travel to various art museums in Southwest Florida, which were led by faculty advisor Chad Abel.
In addition to her role as a student and temporary tutor, one of Singh’s professors recommended she apply for a job at Human Signs, LLC. Accepting a full-time position as a graphic designer, she helped to create banners, logos and decals and “really learned the design of printing.”
Earning her associate degree in 2014, she continued to contemplate arts school; however, the encouragement of her professors, McElroy and Abel, led her to stay and pursue her bachelor’s in digital design and graphics.
“They [McElroy and Abel] made me want to stay, and they have recommended me to jobs and are always very flexible with my schedule. They’ve been amazing,” she said.
In 2015, after a year at Human Signs, LLC, she accepted a position as a front-end web designer and developer at Torchlight, an online marketing and advertising company in Fort Myers. Learning more of the web aspects of design, Singh coordinated, managed and updated websites and marketing materials for clients. Staying only for six months, another opportunity presented itself at Samukai Interactive, and in July 2015, she became the user experience designer. “I did websites, logos, business cards, but what makes it a user experience is you’re building the brand or identity for a company,” she said.
Unfortunately, after three months, she was laid off from the position but wasted no time in finding another job; however, this time, she transitioned from design to retail as the visual merchandising team leader at Target. Using her creative eye, she was in charge of styling the mannequins and bringing a cohesive look to the store.
Combining her educational knowledge of design, her professional experience and her creativity, she maintained an opportunistic outlook, and although she was not working in design, her time at Target enabled her to gain additional experience in a corporate environment.
Online classes have been a life saver for me. The professors are great at delivering their expectations, and I’m able to complete my assignments on my time; it is much more flexible and convenient. – Sasha Singh
Although the experience proved beneficial, Singh was working to balance her time between work, school and being a newlywed. Opting to take on-campus classes while pursuing her associate degree, Singh believed the only way she could make it work for her bachelor’s was to take her classes online, saying, “Online classes have been a life saver for me. The professors are great at delivering their expectations, and I’m able to complete my assignments on my time; it is much more flexible and convenient.”
Adding to her professional portfolio and resume, Singh recently accepted a new position as a site merchandising manager for Chico’s FAS, Inc. Performing contracting work for White House Black Market, she is learning about the ins and outs of marketing, including Google Analytics, online merchandising strategy and digital commerce.
Gaining useful experience in each of her positions, Singh admits it is the opportunity to sit with a client, learn what it is they are looking for and “put ideas to real life.” Not only does it allow her to be creative, but it also allows her to incorporate her own taste into the design.
Using her online portfolio as a way of showcasing her work, she includes everything from class work to freelancing opportunities. “Having an online portfolio is important for a designer because not only can I provide a resume, but I can literally show my work to a prospective employer,” she explained. “The first thing I did after earning my associate degree was create my online portfolio.”
Recognized for her hard work and dedication in the classroom, Singh received the 2016 Student of the Year award from the Fisher School of Technology in February 2017. Admitting she was shocked to learn of her award, she views it as recognition for all of her hard work paying off.
“It means something to me that Professor McElroy and Professor Abel see something in me that I should be proud of…I used to have doubts that maybe everyone forgot about me because I’m only online, but to my surprise, my professors still recognize me for my work, which means I must be doing something right.”