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Graphic Design student jumps into career with help of York College mentors

January 30, 2017
Emily Maxwell
Emily Maxwell '17

Melanie Rodgers’ passion for graphic design resonates in her voice when she talks about the field.

“All graphic designers are different,” the York College of Pennsylvania associate professor says. “We’re scholars, researchers, and writers. We’re agents of change, humorists, and diplomats.”

But, she says, you’ll never get to do that creative conceptual work if you can’t get your foot in the door, take direction, be intuitive and be responsive.

One of her Graphic Design students, Emily Maxwell, is a beautiful mix of all those, Professor Rodgers says.

“Emily has all the things employers are looking for in a budding artist. She’s grown into being a very talented designer and a great technician, but she’s also very well-spoken and very professional.”

Making the grade in the real world

Emily’s skills helped her land a full-time design internship last summer with Dentsply Sirona, a York-based global dental technology and supplies company.

She impressed the company so much they asked her to continue as a freelance designer during the academic year. After graduation, she’ll rejoin the company full time as a member of the design team.

“My time with Dentsply Sirona has been fantastic,” Emily says. “I was able to work by myself and with other experienced designers on a range of projects, some for internal audiences, and others for global audiences in places like Italy, Germany, and Australia.”

As her audience grew, Emily’s communication skills helped during the more international part of her experience.

“I was also able to meet and interact with different representatives from across the globe during my internship,” Emily said. “Overall, my time with Dentsply opened me up to so many new experiences, people, and projects.”

Mentors help pave the way

Professor Rodgers is confident Emily is ready to take on anything in the professional world of design.

“She’s really got the total package of what’s needed,” she says. “I’d hire her in a heartbeat if I were an employer.”

Emily credits the guidance of the Graphic Design department at York College for setting her up for success during her internship and further work with Dentsply Sirona.

She says Professor Rodgers and Troy Patterson, another York College professor, are “amazing mentors” who helped her balance life as a student and freelance designer.

Finding the next generation

Professor Rodgers and her colleagues are opening the doors to the Graphic Design department for high school students who want to be like Emily during Graphic Design Day on Saturday, Feb. 18.

It’s an opportunity for high school seniors considering York College and the field of graphic design to visit with the professors, interact with current students and do some hands-on design.

Visiting students will work on two projects, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, in the York College facilities. Then, their work will be displayed to the public for the York city's First Friday in March. 

“We’re going to give students a really good glimpse into what it is we offer here,” Professor Rodgers says. “Graphic design is the toughest job you’ll ever love.”

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