Chelsea & The City: The First Days of Work

Graduation is the most bizarre feeling. The second my name was called and I walked across the stage, it all ended. All the stress, all the homework, all the tests, the quizzes – it was all over. I should have been ecstatic, but for the first time in the past several weeks I was sad. Ball State had been the most incredible school to me and now I was leaving – forever. This chapter of my life was finally coming to an end. But when one door closes, another one opens – for me, it’s 682 miles away in New York City.

Mom made the trip with me to New York, and helped get me settled in to my new apartment.

My whole family came for my graduation. It was a really special week and I am so thankful I got that last bit of time with everyone before I headed out. The Monday morning after graduation, my mom and I finished packing up the Grand Caravan we rented and set out for NYC. How we fit my entire life into a mini van I will never, ever understand. Believe me – I have a lot of stuff. We passed through Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. My mom and I love little road trips, so we had a blast driving. I did a little shopping on the way as well and bought myself the Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines that several people have suggested to me. I can’t wait to start reading it and get started with more freelancing. Somehow we got to my apartment and unpacked the van (with multiple trips to the 16th floor) just in time to have a delicious Chinese takeout dinner on the floor with the Empire State building right outside my window. It literally couldn’t have been more perfect. My mom and I got to spend four days shopping and decorating my adorable one bedroom apartment and it could not have been more perfect. She had never been to New York before and we had so much fun. I am so happy we got to have that time together.

Starting my first job, I am absolutely thrilled to be at the very bottom of the food chain again. This past year I spent teaching freshman and sophomores everything I had learned the past three and a half years, and though I enjoyed it, I am so excited to be in a position where all I get to do is learn. Although I must say, I was extremely lucky to have the most incredible professors at Ball State. I can truly say Jennifer
George-Palilonis and Ryan Sparrow changed my life. They taught me more than I could ever dreamed of learning and pushed me every day to become better. They never, ever let me settle. Sometimes…well most of the time, it was frustrating. But looking back it was the best gift they could have given me. They taught me that my work can always be improved and to never be satisfied with my first idea. I left Ball State feeling prepared and equipped with all the right tools to delve into my first job.

The new office!

I’m sure you all know the feeling of uncertainty on the first day of a new (or first) job. As I walked into my job for the first time, I honestly basically felt like I was going to faint. I really couldn’t believe this was part of my new life. Everyone was so welcoming and wonderful, I started to feel at home right away. Of course I still have those little nerves everyday and think I will for a while. I remember at the SND
conference in Cleveland this last fall, Mario Garcia said something that really stuck with me. I don’t remember his exact words, but he said, “We always have to have those butterflies in our stomach, because as soon as they’re gone we’ve lost it.”

As for being in New York – I love it. I love everything about being in the city. The crowds, the stuffy subways – absolutely everything. I really can’t imagine this place getting old. I’m sure I will take back that statement someday, but New York and I are definitely still in the honeymoon stage – and will be for a while. I’ve already started on my first assignments and I can’t wait to finish my first full week! 2013 is starting off to be a very, very good year.

—Chelsea

(Chelsea Kardokus is a freelance designer for TIME magazine in New York City. See more of her work here.)