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Every Wednesday at LAA: Real-World Lessons in Career Success

January 3, 2023 | Jeffrey Good

Every Wednesday at LAA: Real-World Lessons in Career Success image

Each Wednesday morning at Lowcountry Acceleration Academy, a successful professional visits to tell graduation candidates about their journeys — and inspire the learners to plan their own.

At one Working/Wellness Wednesday, the featured speaker was Mike Warren, a Charleston native and founder of Kreative Jooce Art & Design. “When you hear graphic design, what comes to mind?” Warren asked the group of GCs gathered around him. They ticked off items ranging from posters to t-shirts to websites.

Warren asked one to lend her a plastic Starbucks drink cup. Pointing to the holiday design on the cup, he explained that it was likely the winning submission from a group of talented artists. “Graphic design is not just an island unto itself. It’s all around.”

From a young age, Warren said he had been passionate about making art. Making a living at graphic design involves not just technical and business skills, but the ability to listen to a client’s vision and turn it into a design. Starbucks, for instance, wanted a design that would convey holiday spirit and, presumably, prompt customers to buy the drinks.

“I have to take what’s in your mind and paint a picture,” he told the GCs. “It’s being able to sit with people and listen to what their needs and wants are — and make that happen.”

Warren said it’s important to learn design skills, but that it needn’t take years to get a start. He got a 4-year bachelor’s degree, while others opt for a 2-year associate’s degree or a shorter, more specialized training program.

An important way to learn is by doing, he said. One of the GCs loves to take photos, and he said she could offer them to graphic designers looking to build their visions around a powerful image. “Graphic designers really love a good photographer.”

Once they have some skills in place, young designers can get a toehold by doing freelance work. Pointing at the GCs in his audience, he said, “You, you and you can walk out this door and start, right now, being a graphic designer.”

But don’t expect to see your name associated with every creation, he said. Whether it’s Starbucks, Nike, the NFL or a local business wanting to spread its brand, the businesses that employ graphic designers rarely attach the creator’s name to their creation. “It’s all about the clients, not about you,” he said. “It’s a very humbling career.”


Working/Wellness Wednesdays is the brainchild of LAA career coach Aisha Montgomery, and another example of Acceleration Academies’ growing emphasis on career and technical education (CTE).

Launched in August, the weekly program was designed to introduce graduation candidates to successful professionals in careers GCs might want to explore.

The presenters who have shared their insights have included pastry chef Christiana Fields, merchant mariner Curtis Pinckney; Realtor Ankara Grant; entrepreneur Courtney Shaw-Scipio; trucking company CEO Tristen Mustapher Simmons; cosmetology expert Sharmin Washington, and digital strategist LaCrystal Robinson

The successful professionals encouraged the young people to dream big. Truck industry veteran Tristen Mustapher Simmons, for instance, left them with a journal and told them to write down their plans no matter how outlandish they might seem. Cosmetology expert Sharmin Washington advised them to embrace changes, even unexpected ones, because they open the door to new opportunities.

They also provided practical advice rooted in real-world experience. Digital strategist LaCrystal Robinson told them to explore careers in science, math and technology (STEM) because demand is high, especially for women. And like her fellow presenters, entrepreneur Courtney Shaw-Scipio said big dreams require hard work. Put in your best effort and success will follow — in school, at work and in life.

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