December 8, 2015

Super Meet Up

The Center for Career and Professional Development sponsored an amazing creative mind Meetup on October 15th. Seventy students, alumni, and professionals came out to mingle and network in Lower Manhattan. Along with all the wonderful connections made, there was a great presentation with many tips on how to build and market your creative career. As we get closer to graduating and entering the real world, it is extremely important to know how to present and discuss the work you create.

  1. Be an expert about the business! Do some research on your potential employer and try to get a feel for what kind of statement they made through their work. It will make you valuable to the company and also ensure that you are in an environment that you can learn and grow in. Everyone should know the BIG PICTURE. Think beyond the nitty gritty details, and be analytic about the projects as a whole. Why are you working on this? How will it help your career goals?
  2. Be a 360 thinker. No matter what your specialty is, you have to think about every aspect of a project. Here’s a cool story: when Ludacris approached the LMHQ and wanted to create a specialty cognac, the company had to think about every aspect of design and marketing. How would it be ordered at a bar? What would the packaging look like on a grocery store shelf? All of these details went into creating a successful final product.
  3. Learn how to challenge the status quo with powerful business ideas. Have a reason behind every creative idea, never answer with “just because.” Store experience and learn how to critically explain your work!
  4. Want to get noticed? Keep your email short and simple. Imagine your potential boss putting her children to bed and only having an hour at night to go through her inbox. Put yourself ahead and keep the body of the email short, and if you have a link to your website, include it! The more concise your introduction, the more likely an employer will look at the work.    
  5. During the interview, don’t just show your work, show the way you think and how the work was produced. Employers want to know if you understand the work and how it challenged you! Show your personality and show how you have the potential to fit into a certain company with both your work and your intellect.
  6. Pay attention to the process, try to get an understanding for the company you are applying to and for the type of people you would be working with. There is no point in working with a company that you aren’t excited about. Recognize the ways that you and your work could improve from spending time with a specific company and make the experience special. Be in tune with the company, understand what kind of culture they are trying to cultivate through the work and the clientele that they take on.  

I hope these tips help you while you search for an internship or a potential job! Keep an eye out for upcoming events like this, where you will have the opportunity to meet and connect with professionals in your field and Pratt alumni!

December 3, 2015

Saturday Excurisons: Alumni Roundtables and Advice


20150919_105834.jpgOn September 19th, I abandoned my sleep-in day and headed to North Hall for the Alumni Roundtables event. The white rooms that normally hold my classes overflowed with people and conversations. Desks formed giant circles, to accommodate all the alumni and current students while visual and written work decorated the walls.

Each door was labeled with a combination of majors and it seemed as if every major was covered. I carefully read through each tag until I found Writing and snuck in. The Writing alumni outnumbered the one graduate from Pratt’s School of Library and Information Science (recently renamed School of Information) and the conversation was guided by a current Pratt Professor.  

Two other students and I listened as the alumni and Pratt professor talked about their experience, bouncing ideas and thoughts off each.When we were alerted 30 minutes had passed, everyone was surprised. After getting contact information from an alumna, I took this time to sneak out and listened in on other conversations.

20150919_110315.jpgLike most art school students, I worry about my prospective job opportunities but going to this event lessened those concerns. During one conversation, I realized how vast of a resource Pratt is. The amazing reality at Pratt is none of the students are pigeonholed by their major. Writing students can go to painting classes, film students can minor in creative writing, and architecture students can study interior design. While these interdisciplinary interests depend on a student’s curiosity, having this opportunity is an advantage alumni encouraged us to take. A few even suggested students consider working or freelancing during school. Although balancing  school and work is difficult, alumni who did entered their careers with experience and had an audience already familiar with their work.

ATT_1442851575813_20150919_115439.jpgAt Pratt, students have the luxury to form a community of artists who share the same interests. As a fact of life, no one ever knows where people end up. Many alumni said at one point they received a job because of a fellow Pratt graduate, or they themselves helped give a Pratt graduate a job; some even found their current job through their professors. At college students are forming a professional network through their classes, their jobs, and their friendships and many don’t realize it.

Of course, the conversations were littered with specific counsel for certain majors. An architecture alumni relayed his experience of following his professor's advice to document how many hours it took him to do a project. When he entered the workforce, he was able to give his clients an idea of how long their project would take and adjust the project accordingly. For photography, alumni advised students to show companies their personal portfolio. One alumni emphasized being surprised that a major company used his work even though he believed it didn’t fit the company’s wants.  

I was happy to see so many Pratt students at the Alumni Roundtables. I love events like these because it gives students an idea of what they are heading into after graduation instead of having a nebulous idea formed from their classes. I know I walked away with a clearer idea of what I wanted and some helpful advice to try.

To find out more about Center for Career and Professional Development events  follow the Career Ambassadors on Twitter (@PrattSuccess) and find us on Facebook (Pratt Success)!

Written by: Bree Balsamo
Images by: Bree Balsamo

November 25, 2015

When Applying To Grad School...

If you’re considering grad school as an option after graduation, here’s a list of 16 helpful tips and things to consider:

  1. Think about whether you want to work in an area where career opportunities are limited without an advanced degree
  2. If you want to pursue a PhD, know that you do not need a Masters degree to apply, although you will need an undergraduate degree
  3. You may want to research graduates from the program, and see where they are working. LinkedIn can be very useful when approaching this  
  4. Know that PhD graduate schools are looking for good researchers, therefore you will want research experience
  5. When applying to schools, applications are typically due by December or January
  6. Apply to as many programs as you can, preferably 4 or 5
  7. Keep in mind that the application form will ask you for a list of individuals who will be writing letters of recommendation
  8. In your statement of purpose state your interest in the program and goals
  9. You will be asked for samples of your work depending on the program
  10. Registration for the GRE exam takes time
  11. You will need 3 or 4 letters of recommendation from individuals who are in the field and can articulate why you fit in the particular program. These people can be a faculty members, supervisors, or mentors
  12. Interviews are often scheduled for February and March. Select intelligent questions you want to ask during the interview!
  13. When visiting the campus, you will need to be on your best behavior and dress appropriately, what you choose to wear should be neat and professional
  14. After any visit/interview send a follow up email reiterating your interest in the program and thank them for their time
  15. When hearing back from schools confirm your receipt of their letter while you wait on results from other schools

Hope this was helpful, & for more graduate school information visit

++ Samantha Harvey will be running a graduate school workshop in the CCPD office Wednesday December 2nd at 2PM, be sure to go if you’re thinking of/or are applying to graduate school programs in the coming year. She is awesome & can help you a ton!  

Happy thanksgiving!!


October 20, 2015

Stress Crunch

Since the semester has picked up, and most of us have midterms along with many other things in our mind; we (Career Ambassadors), asked members of the office to share some self-care tips or things that help them manage/cope with stress.

1. Candle lit bath
3. Wander Prospect Park
4. Take a bootcamp class then fall asleep
5. Mindful movement (total awareness of breathness in movement)
6. Hot Yoga at Sacred & this week it’s *pay as you wish*
7. $7 Pedi @ Charming
8. TUMBLR feed!
9. Puppy parkssss
10. Sundays @ UCB Theatre for some $5 laughs
11. Ambient music such as ‘Stars of the Lid’ or Brian Eno’s Ambient work(s) 1-4

Hope you all made it through midterms, and let’s kill the rest of this semester!

September 29, 2015

Building Success: An Interview with Pratt Alumna Elisa Li

On April 17th, I had the chance to sit down and interview Elisa Li. Li is a native New Yorker, but was raised in Hong Kong until she was eight. After obtaining her undergraduate degree in Engineering, she came to Pratt to get a Master’s in Architecture. As a current Pratt student, I find talking to Pratt Alumni is a rewarding experience because they are already in the workforce forging their creative careers.

How did your experience at Pratt help you shape your career path as an architect?

I found ways to develop diagrams and communicate via aesthetics versus writing. A lot of what I did in undergrad was mathematical and more writing compared to [what I did at] Pratt, which was more visuals. This is one of the best things I can say about the program. It really developed my presentation skills and getting ideas onto paper. And with the way architecture is today, I’m constantly learning new software; Pratt was really good for that--not just Photoshop but also the 3D modeling programs. Without all these tools it would be difficult to get a client to accept your idea.

train station.JPG
Image courtesy of Elisa Li. Not for Re-use

Did you do any internships or have any work experience while you were at Pratt?

Yes, I did. One of the connections I made was with a Pratt professor--Gregory Okshteyn. He is the head of Studios Go and I worked with him the summer after my first year at Pratt. It’s funny because I just went to his 40th birthday party. It’s amazing the kind of connections you can make at Pratt and the kind of mentorship you can get. At that internship, I worked on hospitality projects including restaurants and retail stores.

Then I got an internship at HLW, which is where I currently work. It was very difficult to be working while in my last semester of my master’s program. I think I was getting about 3 hours of sleep a night for weeks. After school ended, I took a hiatus and worked at a small architecture studio in Green Point. I came back to HLW in October 2013, and I have been here ever since. In the end, I think the stress of working and school was worth it. Ultimately now I work here, I really love what I do and the people I work with. We actually have a ton of Pratt grads and a Pratt professor here. Lots of support and Pratt-to-HLW connections.

Any advice for students/people in architecture?

Get as many internships as possible. Really dig your teeth into them because internships will get you pretty far. But there is still a whole ocean of stuff to learn, and it is really about getting into the field as much as possible. Ask everyone you know questions, as many questions as possible. After working for a year and a half, almost two years, I still feel I have a lot to learn. There are architects who have been in the field for 20 years, 30 years, and they are still learning new things.

Also, find a really good mentor. My supervisor is a strong architect. In a room full of sometimes aggressive contractors and engineers, everyone listens to her. Learning from her has been a great experience and I appreciate that she takes time to explain everything. I’m not only learning about architecture, the drawing and the design side, but also about how to have my ideas heard.

Montessori School.JPG
Image courtesy of Elisa Li. Not for re-use

What are your future goals?

I need to get my architecture license. I am taking one [test] in late summer. I gave myself a month and a half, two months, to study. It’s hard to find time to study with project schedules, but I just had to make it happen. Having a license will be a huge step in legitimizing what I do. A lot of the direction that I give when I am in the field or working on a project, that is, working with a client or working with a contractor, it is helpful to have something behind that. Even if you have the experience, it is good to have something clarifying your right to give this direction.

What are you working on now?

I recently finished projects for M&T Bank and Under Armour. Now I am on several projects for a large tech company at the moment. It is a lot of fun working on their offices in Chelsea, and we are doing a lot of crazy interiors. So far this large tech company is one of my favorite clients because it is a challenge to detail all these interiors. In a lot of situations, I have never created this kind of construction. It’s like solving a big, fun puzzle.

For M&T Bank- Photo Courtesy of HLW International. Photographer- Richard Cadan.jpg
For M&T Bank- Photo Courtesy of HLW International. Photography by: Richard Cadan. Not for re-use.

But it’s also a lot of corralling people. In the beginning, I had no idea that so much of this job was constantly communicating with a team of dozens of people: lots of different consultants, for example. Right now I am an entry level participant in the design and construction process, so I don’t get a huge chance to throw ideas into the mix. In the future I hope that I will have more of a voice in the process.

For Under Armour- Photo Courtesy of HLW International. Photographer- Chris Cooper.jpg
For Under Armour- Photo Courtesy of HLW International. Photography by: Chris Cooper. Not for re-use.

Getting the opportunity to speak with Elisa was fabulous, and I really enjoyed our conversation -- I could have chatted with her for hours! I learned a lot about her experience and what she valued from her time at Pratt, which has helped me to think about what I am doing and how I can enjoy it even more.

Check out more of Li’s work from her time at Pratt.

For more articles and to see what else we are up to connect with us on social media via Facebook and Twitter.

Written by: Bree Balsamo

June 26, 2015

Pratt Alumni Spotlight: Julie Mollo

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am Julie Mollo, I am 27. I’m from Massachusetts and I am a Brooklyn-based fashion designer and stylist. I specialize in doing fun, flirty rock & roll clothes and I love designing for musicians and seeing the designs on stage.

Could you walk me through a day in the life of Julie Mollo?
Every day is different, I wake up early and spend the first two hours of my day on social media and e-mail. Because I run everything, I don’t have a social media or business person.
Sometimes I’m styling a video so I’m running around to studios and coordinating with different show rooms or I’m working on custom stuff and sewing for all different clients. Other times I’m running around midtown sourcing fabrics and running to my manufacturer to get  everything together.
Everyday is different but they’re long and I work seven days a week, probably 7AM to 9 or 10PM on an average day, some days are longer and some days I get to take off.

How long ago did you start your business?
I started my business while I was still at Pratt, I was 20 and started dressing Katy Perry. I was a junior. Katy started wearing my designs and after she did the Today Show and VMA’s she made a blog post about me and sent thousands of girls to my website. I was forced to create a business while I was juggling my Pratt fashion classes and making custom clothing such as rompers and party dresses for girls all over the world. It was fun and crazy but that’s how it started. So seven years later I’m putting the pieces together.
What is one fun fact that helps you succeed?
I found Katy Perry on Myspace. And that’s what made me succeed overall, but you have to be fearless and crazy. If you are those two things you can do anything.

How do you think your experience at Pratt helped shape you as the artist/creative professional that you are now?
My aesthetic has always been the same but at Pratt the students have their own thing going on, and a lot of students were into high-fashion. I was always doing my own thing which was fun and  flirty. Everyone useD to laugh it off and I learned to defend my design--I got better at that and I’m so glad that I did because it’s easy to fall into a certain design.
It was a good school. I think having New York City and the connections that we made at school was good. Everybody at the dorms even--I’m still using those connections and references, but they were my friends back then and we’re working professionals now. It’s a really cool home-base to have.

What were some of the challenges you faced at Pratt and how did you overcome them?
Probably when I was starting my business, that was challenging. It was nuts! I never did work in the studios since I had a studio set up in my dorm room. I had a single in Willoughby and I’d work all night. I’d take as many orders as I could because I wanted the money to get me through school. I didn’t do anything else but work. It was rare that I was going out in college, I was not a party girl. There was no time for that.

What is some advice you want to share with current Pratt students?
You have to understand your aesthetic, defend it, keep going and believe that what you’re supposed to do is what you’re supposed to do. And if you want to do that you have to do it. Don’t question it, you have to believe it and work your ass off for it because it’s not luck, it’s a lot of work. If you work hard enough you’ll succeed. Don’t be afraid to make connections-reach out to anybody, you have to be gutsy. No one else is gonna do it for you, nobody will help you in this city, you have to do it yourself.

Did you have any internships while at Pratt?
I got lucky when I was working with Katy, I was making so much outside the classroom that my advisor was, like, “We’ll just write some of this off”.
Working for myself was considered an internship credit at one point. I also interned at Betsey Johnson for the summer of 2009, the whole summer I interned there. I worked 40 hours a week for free and when I’d get out of my internship I’d make custom clothes for musicians. That was right before senior year, it was crazy.
The industry was such a turn off for me that it made me decide that I don’t want to work for anybody else so that’s what I’m going to do. It’s gross out there!
Katrina Eugenia Photography
Anything else you’d want to share? 
I just released a new line of my reversible clothing and had a big launch party to celebrate that, so it’s going well. But you never feel like ‘I made it’, you’re always working. I still work freelance jobs, or style gigs here and there to make it all work. It’s a hustle.
Katrina Eugenia Photography
To get the latest on Julie Mollo’s fashion line be sure to check out her website!

Written by: Jazz Seijii

Images by: Katrina Eugenia and other Associated Press

June 5, 2015

Radio Talk with Nico Teitel

The Career Ambassadors first witnessed Nico Teitel’s vibrant personality when she attended one of our Gotham Tours where we visited Titmouse. Teitel is a Junior 2D Animation major and volleyball player. This semester I got the chance to talk to Teitel about her experience working on campus as a General Manager of the Radio Station and a worker in the Department of Digital Arts Resource Center (DDA Resource Center).

Teitel is on the left

The process of finding a job is always different, and Teitel’s experience shows the importance of  networking. “During my freshman year, I found the radio station to be an interesting part of Pratt life, especially since I am all about finding bizarre music and getting it out there. All of the radio station’s current staff were seniors and were graduating so when little old sophomore me decided to ask about the position, they were happy to hire me. As for the Resource Center, I was friends with all the employees. So when one of my close friends was given the chance to pick and choose who she wanted to hire, I was one of her selections. I worked at the monitor desk, and eventually I was promoted.”

Teitel has a number of responsibilities at both jobs. At the radio station, she is a co-executive branch with the Technology Manager. This managerial position requires her to communicate with advisors, maintain daily communication as well as run the staff meetings. At the DDA Resource Center, she is the librarian for equipment. DDA students come to the desk and check out equipment, and she has to keep record of who brings back the equipment and who doesn’t.

Working at both Pratt Radio Station as well as the DDA center has helped Teitel both in her school work and her life. “The great thing [about working on campus] is your boss and fellow employees always understand that school will come first. In my experience working on campus, I have never had a manager that said otherwise. And working at the radio station has improved my audio in my animations, and working at the Resource Center taught me how to stay organized and work under a supervisor. One of the things I like about being a manager at the radio station is that it has given me the ability to be a strong leader, and that is really important in the animation field where every job is a team effort.”

In her work experience, Teitel is most proud of her contribution to the radio station. “When the former leaders of the Pratt Radio graduated, they left us a broken machine and really didn’t show us how to fix it. Getting the station back on air was a high point itself, and now, even though it is still super temperamental, the machine at least works a little bit better.”

And her advice to students is food for thought. “You really have to think about everything you need to do all the time. The moment you stop thinking about your other responsibilities is the moment something falls through the cracks. I find writing things down really beneficial. Also, it is okay to ask for help. Everyone has something to bring to the table and Pratt has a structure that is meant to solve campus problems.”

Check out Teitel’s work at To learn more about Pratt students and successful alumni, as well as see what awesome events we have going on, follow the Career Ambassadors on Twitter (@PrattSuccess) and find us on Facebook (Pratt Success)!

Written by: Bree Balsamo

Image provided by: Nicole Teitel

May 28, 2015

Meijun Cai: School, On-Campus Job, Internship, Sports and Success

It is well known that Pratt Institute offers intensive academic programs, and students know all too well that keeping up with the homework load is a full time job. Add in an internship, an on-campus job and sports, and it seems impossible to get everything done short of adding more hours in the day. Amazingly enough, Meijun Cai - a recent ComD graduate interested in Advertising & Art Direction - has found a way to accomplish such a feat.


Originally from Kingston, Jamaica, Meijun currently works as a Resident Advisor, holds an internship at Cooke Wax Partnership (a start-up branding agency) and plays on the Men’s Volleyball team. Meijun is one of the most relaxed students I have ever met. When walking around campus, anyone can find him with a smile on his face as he chats with friends. When I asked how he remains so calm, Meijun said ”Working puts me in a position where I am forced to be disciplined and aware of my time. I have no choice but to be more organized and do less procrastinating. I am able to stay sane and manage my time by having weekly and daily to do lists as well as an entire wall dedicated to mapping out my classes and the tasks for each class. This keeps me organized and less stressed out.”

Interning at Cooke Wax Partnership is an invaluable experience for Meijun, whose eventual goal is to create his own advertising agency with a team of Pratt alumni. Meijun found his current internship through Pratt Pro, Pratt’s job and internship board. He was first attracted by the job description, and when he began to research the company, he felt that its small size and experienced staff could teach him how to achieve his goals. Cooke Wax Partnership didn’t disappoint. As an intern, Meijun has his hands in everything. Not only does he assist senior designers and production teams, but he is also asked to do research and concept development, deck creations, comping ideas and preparation of presentations. These responsibilities have given him experience that classroom teaching couldn’t provide. Meijun sees the first-hand production of videos and prints, as well as being involved in developing strategies for branding and talking to clients like IMAX.

Even with this awesome internship Meijun doesn’t dismiss his on-campus job or classes. Due to his position as a Resident Advisor, Meijun is aware of the constant activity going on at Pratt and he interacts with large groups of people on a regular basis. “I believe that in the art world everything is interrelated. Learning through experience, within my major or not, is always beneficial because it opens my mind and gives me a different perspective on whatever you take on whether in class or life.”

The courses he has taken over his four years here gave him knowledge and proficiency in software programs, a better design sense and the ability to come up with creative solutions -- all of which are necessary skills that he needed for success at his internship. When I asked what achievement he was the most proud of, it was no surprise that he answered “Being able to balance everything and graduate with highest honors.”

While many would find balancing two jobs, school and sports overwhelming, Meijun offered some simple but effective advice. “Time management, just do it. Less talking, less complaining and more work, time and effort.”

Check out Meijun’s work on his website. To find out more about successful Pratt students and alumni, as well as see what awesome events we have going on, follow the Career Ambassadors on Twitter (@PrattSuccess) and find us on Facebook (Pratt Success)!

Written by Bree Balsamo

Image Provided By: Meijun Cai

May 26, 2015

Dive into D.K Smith’s Journey to Success

I had the pleasure of talking with D.K Smith in April and we talked about everything and anything. He is a Pratt alumni who graduated from the Photography program. He has worked for many firms and been successful at starting his own photography company, as well as creating a new startup company. D.K told me that he attributes all his success to Pratt, as he was encouraged to maximize his creativity and use innovation for motivation and direction in his work
D.K has always been involved in building and creating things, which was a passion from his childhood that continued through his engineering focused high school experience. He started at Pratt as an architecture student, and then his sister returned from Japan with the birthday gift of a new SLR camera. All of a sudden, he was taking tons of pictures and realized that he wanted to be a photographer. As he reflects back on that time, he stated that the seventies were an exciting time for photography, since there was so many undiscovered ways of seeing and visually representing things.
When asked to share the three best things about his education at Pratt, D.K quickly answered “foundation, criticism, and the creative geniuses that surrounded me.” Through the flow of the conversation, he gladly shared his thoughts on all three.
When discussing the Foundation Year he shared with me an enlightening story from his commercial photography work. D.K and his employees often traveled to far off locations for photo shoots; most of the time to ones he had never seen. His assistants would often ask, “How do you know exactly what to do each time we arrive?” D.K replied with this explanation: “While you guys are setting up the lights, I am freaking out because at first, I have no idea what to shoot. Then I think about all the things I learned in foundation year. I look at the environment and themes such as color theory, perspective, and framing start running through my mind.”
By referencing the fundamental building blocks from his Pratt experience, he was able to establish new ways of perceiving locations and solving the visual communication problems he was faced with. D.K was literally making something out of nothing by using these principles. When he realized the influence and value of the Foundation Year, he went back into his notes and found inspiration in the basics. D.K illustrated how a foundation helps to create a successful person by referencing the construction of a building, “A soaring structure’s height and stability is rooted in its deep and wide foundation. People too need a foundation to grow from.”
D.K spoke about how influential it was for him to learn how to take and give criticism positively and how to receive it. During his time at Pratt, he learned how important it is to take the criticism people give you and allow it to improve your wok. Even now as an entrepreneur, he looks for people to give him honest feedback so he can make things better.  

Another important element of his Pratt experience was the significance of his peers and other alumni that he has met after his time at Pratt. D.K calls Pratt the “Do School.” While here, students produce an incredible amount of work that other students can see just by walking throughout the campus. The atmosphere of creativity helped him thrive as a student and learn from the struggles of other students.
D.K found that fellow Pratt alumni have been great resources after he graduated. One of the jobs he held was because of a Pratt friend that got him in with the art director. The second opportunity occurred when his interviewer happened to be a Pratt alumnus who understood the rigors of the experience and the broad depth of knowledge that students learn here. D.K strongly advises that we should take advantage of the connections that exist with Pratt alumni. Many times a complete stranger will turn out to be a fellow Pratt companion.
D.K has stayed focused on achieving his professional goals and strives to remain involved in whatever intrigues him. He is in the midst of growing an entrepreneurship accelerator that focuses on helping Brooklyn based founders get started. It may focus on business planning and startup iteration, but he utilizes his creativity skill set just as much. D.K. is always looking outside the box to find the answers for entrepreneurs who seek his expertise. He put it this way:
“It’s like working on puzzles, but the puzzle pieces don’t exist yet.” Thus, he uses his creativity to discover the puzzle pieces.
Pratt Alumni are always offering to teach us from their experiences and D.K’s advice is something to take away. My chat with D.K. was a chance for me to learn from his experience at Pratt and how it was applied in the working world. I just had to share this with everyone. All of our journeys to success will be different, but there will always be times when we find help and inspiration from someone else's story.
Written by: Jil Berenblum