November 09, 2021

By Alaina Uricheck ’24

Susquehanna University’s graphic design program has graduated many students since its inception in 2002, resulting in a network of alumni that have helped younger graduates get a foothold in the industry. The sense of community felt by graphic design majors at Susquehanna is unique and continues after graduation — as they are friends who push, criticize, encourage, lean on and compete with one another.

After Marra Landino ’12 spoke with graphic design students during an alumni event, Alyson Lawrence ’20 reached out to Landino to stay in touch and ask for advice and portfolio reviews. At the time, Landino was employed at Adweek, the nation’s second-largest advertising-trade publication, where she interviewed and hired Lawrence for a graphic design position.

“I hope I can continue to be a resource for current and graduated students looking for new opportunities, whether by class speaking engagements, Zoom meetups, introducing a student to someone else in the field, or hiring,” Landino said. “Knowing how hard it is to get your first foot in the door (especially during a pandemic), I felt great to be able to help a recent graduate.”

Network Pays Off for Employers

Amanda Lenig ’07, department chair and assistant professor of graphic design, described the academic experience at Susquehanna as one that “bonds the students and faculty over long hours in the lab, tough critiques, moments of success and endless cups of coffee.

“It’s the kind of bond that is often built around creative endeavors because of how intertwined their personal work is to their professional futures,” Lenig said. “This kind of classroom environment creates alumni who are prepared for any design opportunity and who reach out to me often, even weekly, with opportunities at their agencies for upcoming graduates. The icing on the cake is that it’s often backed by creative directors who want another Susquehanna designer because they are a proven and trusted entity.”

Although Landino has since taken a position elsewhere, Lawrence is still employed at Adweek, now as associate art director overseeing branding and design on the creative services team. “Graduating during a pandemic made it really challenging to find a job. But, as everyone says, connections are everything,” Lawrence said. “Marra was an amazing resource to have upon my graduation.”

Alumni Offer a Hand Up

Other students who recently received help from alumni include Sydnie Chin ’20 and Audrey Reynolds ’20. Chin works at the apparel company Bombas as a production artist and received help from Leslie Hanson ’08, senior art director.

“My professors introduced me to Leslie during my junior year. I mostly just kept in touch via Instagram and LinkedIn, and when a job opened up at Bombas, Leslie messaged me on Instagram,” Chin said. “Thanks to SU’s alumni network, I know that the next time I need help, whatever that may be, I can easily find it and I’m never alone in my professional pursuits.”

Reynolds works as a graphic designer at Fekkai Brands, a beauty and haircare company, and received a helping hand from Rebecca Wilson ’19.

“I feel very fortunate that I was able to get such a great job through the SU alumni community. It means a lot to me to have a supportive alumni network because even if you weren’t at SU at the same time, people are still willing to help you in any way they can,” Reynolds said. “I also feel that I’m constantly meeting and connecting with people because of SU.”

In reflecting on how she can pay it forward, Lawrence said the university’s size and culture of connectedness contributes to SU’s supportive alumni network.

“I hope to give back to SU in the same way that alumni have given back to me — giving current students a leg up in finding a first job, offering advice to young professionals and peers and remaining active with the current SU student body,” Lawrence said. “These are all things I hope to continue as I advance in my career, because I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support that SU alumni gave me while I was a student.”