ACA Helped Me Land National Design Jobs

Marie Bailey, Adobe Certified Associate World Championship competitor and amateur soccer player, had never left New Zealand, let alone traveled to the United States to compete in an international design competition. Not even she could have imagined how far this experience would take her. Marie is now a graphic design student at one of New Zealand’s top colleges and landing amazing design jobs. Find out below just how she got her start with ACA certification.

Certiport: Marie, we can’t thank you enough for agreeing to share your experience with us. When we saw all your updates on Facebook, we knew you’d be an inspiration to students looking to get involved in graphic design.

Marie: I’m so excited to be able to talk more about the ACA World Championship. It’s been a few years since I competed, but still one of my favorite memories.

Certiport: That’s fantastic to hear. Tell us how you originally got involved in certification.

Marie: My digital technology teacher, Mrs. Le Comte, in high school introduced me to the Adobe Certified Associate certification. She helped me understand different Adobe applications and their uses. She then suggested that I work towards one of the ACA certifications. She believed in me and was a huge influence in getting me involved in design and the Adobe programs. I’m so glad she opened my eyes to the opportunities I’ve had since. I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for her believing in me.

Getting the certification in high school really gave me a head start in a huge industry where it’s difficult to get your foot in the door, and even tougher to stand out amongst the crowd. I know my ACA certification will help me in the future when I do start applying for design jobs. It such a great program and I wish more New Zealand students knew about ACA certifications!

Certiport: Your success is a great example to students across New Zealand. We’ve heard of other students with similar experiences. Teachers really spark life changing experiences for a lot of students. You’ve since graduated high school, so what are you up to now?

Marie: I’ve nearly completed my third year at Massey University studying a Bachelor of Design with Honors majoring in Visual Communication Design. I also work part-time as a barista at a cafe which is well known locally for it’s amazing gelato and coffee.

Certiport: You’re obviously keeping yourself busy. Was it tough to get admitted into Massey University’s design program?

Marie: It’s an arduous process. To get a place in the design course at Massey University, you need to submit a portfolio of your work and some of the processes behind the results. An admissions team reviews the portfolios and selects who will get into the course. My certification was so helpful as I built my portfolio. I know that I wouldn’t have been able to create the vision that I had behind some of the pieces without the skills and knowledge learned from the certification.

Being able to add my ACA World Championship project was the icing on the cake and really helped bring my portfolio a step above the other students. I was so proud to be admitted, and even more thrilled when I was awarded the Massey University Vice Chancellor’s High Achievers Art Scholarship. I don’t think I would have been able to do any of it without my ACA certification or experience at the ACA World Championship.

Certiport: Admission and a scholarship, no less. That is incredible! We’re not surprised, especially since you were the People’s Choice winner the year you competed.

Marie: Thank you so much. Overall, my journey at the competition was such an amazing experience. It was a trip full of firsts for me, and lots of new experiences. It was my first trip overseas, and I was so proud to be able to represent New Zealand in an international competition. I got to meet so many like-minded people from around world, which really opened my mind to see how other people approach the same design project.

All of that was amazing, but like you mentioned, being named People’s Choice winner is a moment I will never forget. It was so surreal. I was already emotional from placing ninth amongst all the other amazing designers. Even three years later, it’s still the best thing that has happened to me.

Marie Bailey at the ACA World Championship

I’ve also been someone who lacks a lot of self-confidence, it had always been a struggle for me to believe that I was good enough. The ACA National and World Championships gave me an opportunity to believe in myself, and the ACA certification allowed me to believe in my abilities. Without this opportunity in my life, I would be a completely different person than I am now. I learned more about myself and found direction for my future career. Simply put, these experiences gave me purpose when I wasn’t sure where I was going.

Certiport: Finding your path is no simple task, but it sounds like you’re well on your way to a successful career. Have you gotten additional design experience outside of the ACA Championship?

Marie: I actually have. I was recently given the opportunity to work on a real-world design project as the graphic designer for a historic exhibition. The exhibition was called “Goodbye to all that: Armistice 1918” which was displayed in 2018 at the Turnbull Gallery in the National Library of New Zealand located in Wellington. The exhibition was open to the public for a few months. I was recruited to work on the exhibition by some students at Victoria University, all completing an Exhibition Studies paper for their master’s program in Museum and History Practices.

I worked as the graphic designer. All in all, I designed the exhibit’s main promotional panel, the wall and case panels (which had information about the displayed pieces), social media ads, email banners, and printed postcards, which were handed out at the exhibit. It was an amazing opportunity, putting the skills that I have learned from my certification into a real-world project as my first paid design job.

I also recently got asked to work on another project with students from Victoria University, designing a brochure for a 20-minute self-guided tour for cruise ship passengers at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park. I was 'highly recommended' by the professor that was involved with the exhibition last year, so the skills I learned from the certification are still getting my name around!

Certiport: Wow! You’re still in college and you’re already designing for national events! Do you feel like this project has helped you decide what you want to do after college?

Marie: I’m not completely sure what I want to do when I finish my degree. A degree in design can take you down so many different roads. I do know that I really want to put my design thinking and skills towards doing good for people and the world. Human-centered design is an area I’m currently very passionate about.

Certiport: We’re ready to see you take on the world, Marie. You’re doing amazing things already. What advice would you give other students, especially those who are shy or unsure about their skills?

Marie: Advice that I would give to other students would be to just do it. There's nothing to lose, there's only everything to gain. Trying new things is beneficial for your own growth as a person to even just give it a go. If you are passionate about something, then giving it a try is the way to go. It's the only way to learn and develop yourself.

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