Earlier this week we had the opportunity to interview a current employee of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. Tony Spataro is the Creative Director for the Indiana Chamber. He told us about his internship experience as well as his professional career development. He provided us with very insightful information of how things have changed in the creative sector, and how to prepare for a career similar to his.
Indiana INTERNnet: What is your current position and what are your day to day tasks?
Tony Spataro: I’m the creative director for the Indiana Chamber. I handle the designs and layouts for the Chamber and its subsidiaries. The majority of my design work includes layouts, marketing, print, email and some web materials. Recently, we started a podcast for the Chamber called EchoChamber, which I’m the producer for. I also shoot videos and photography for the various departments at the Chamber. I handle a variety of projects on a day-to-day basis, and every day is different.
IIN: When did you begin your search for an internship, and what was the thought process behind it?
TS: My first internship was after my junior year with an ad agency, Bates Midwest. I worked with the design team, building design work for the client’s needs. I did minor tasks to help around the office, but didn’t have enough guidance or exposure. Back then there wasn’t enough information on why you should do an internship and what you should get from an internship. Today internships are more structured, and you know what it entails as well as why you should complete an internship. I wasn’t mentored and wish I was, so I knew what to work on and what careers to look into.
IIN: What is the most valuable thing you gained from the internship?
TS: Being able to be part of an agency really helped me when I started to apply for jobs, because I applied at the place I interned and got the job! It made it less intimidating going to work and trying to do my job because I knew what the job entailed.
IIN: What career advice do you have for students searching for internships?
TS: Think long and hard with what you want to do long term. Focus on your education and talk to people in the industry to see what’s going on in it. I had to learn a lot on the job and didn’t take advantage of doing more internships. Talk to different people within the company and different departments to get insights of other jobs. Do multiple internships with different companies because environments are different as well as the work style. One thing you should do that I didn’t do is take advantage of the internship, take knowledge from others, and ask questions.
IIN: How do you separate yourself from other candidates when applying for a job?
TS: Show initiative with the company you are interning with, but don’t just do an internship to say you did an internship. Make suggestions, take risks, and make a change while you are there. Put yourself out there to the staff and offer help with projects. Be comfortable with your talents and make yourself part of the organization while interning. Showcase your projects on your resume and be able to talk fluently about them.
IIN: How did your first professional job prepare you for your current role?
TS: At the agency I was part of a group whereas here at the Chamber I’m more independent. The settings are different. I had to adjust to this new setting, but my previous experience prepared me for the work. At the agency I learned about different levels within the organization. It wasn’t only one person doing the work but instead multiple people working on it. I had to develop a creative group here at the Chamber and build a team. I try to maintain a group setting by bouncing ideas off of others and collaborating when I can.
IIN: What’s one thing you wish somebody would have told you before going into this field?
TS: The number one thing in the design world is that it’s constantly changing. My first year into my job the designing changed, it was a fun challenge that I didn’t expect. You have to follow trends and stay ahead of the game, because it is a faced-paced industry and you can struggle to keep up sometimes. You don’t end up making a lot of money, so you have love what you do in the art world. It is a very tough and competitive industry. I wish somebody would have told me about getting a business degree as well since they work hand in hand.
IIN: What’s most important to prepare for a role like yours?
TS: You have to have a creative mind and look at the world in a different perspective. I look at things differently, in a nonlinear way. You have to be willing and able to evolve your skills and adapt to constant change. Having some psychology classes would help because you have to be able to read people and understand them. Also know why and how to sell a product to people because that is what you are doing with your art.
IIN: What would someone have to have to be successful in your role?
TS: They have to be highly motivated because this market is constantly changing and evolving. Someone who wants to constantly be improving and learning. As an artist your work is driven by your passion. You wear your heart on your sleeve, but you need to be able to separate what’s meaningful to you and what the client wants. You must be able to accept rejection and not be scared to put something out, because you have to bold and take a chance in this industry.