It took Carolina Balderas nearly a decade of craving a more creative career to finally chase her passions, but her leap of faith paid off – and quickly.
Before even finishing her Online Graphic Design & Interactive Media studies at Toronto Film School, the Monterrey, Mexico native landed herself a new job in her chosen field.
“I was lucky to find a job a few weeks before finishing the diploma,” said Balderas, who was recently named the valedictorian of her graduating class.
“I’m now working for a provincial government agency providing admin and graphic design assistance to different programs. Working within this industry has also opened up the doors to freelancing through my design studio, nbdesignstudio.ca.”
Balderas recently sat down to reflect on her time at Toronto Film School, her passion for graphic design, and her plans for the future. Here’s what she had to say:
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Mexico, where I got a BA in Communication and Media Production. I worked at Disney World in Orlando learning customer service, I lived in Calgary for a few years, and then I finally settled in BC. I’ve always been passionate about art, design, everything Olympics, and rugby. Also, I have two little kids that keep me busy 24/7.
What brought you to Toronto Film School? Where were you in life when you decided to continue your studies with us?
I had started my journey back in school at a different institution, but I grew disappointed with their lack of classes available term after term. I had a one-year-old baby, I was working full time, and I needed to move forward with my education to advance my career.
In researching other programs, I found Toronto Film School. I was instantly drawn to the courses, and very impressed with the careers that plenty of alumni had built for themselves. After speaking with an admissions advisor, and listening to her experience and insight as a working mom tackling a Master’s Degree, I was sold! I knew this was the school and program for me.
What made you decide to pursue your passion for graphic design?
I had been putting it off for almost a decade, but seeing the quantity and quality of career opportunities in the design field in Vancouver made me realize it was the perfect time and place to get started.
What is the most important thing you’re taking away from your studies at TFS (ie things you’ve learned/relationships you’ve forged/experiences you’ve had)?
I think the most valuable thing is having a portfolio. All the projects, the effort, the one-on-ones – it all comes down to building a professional portfolio that helps you start your career as a designer.
What are your plans after graduation both immediate and long term?
I was lucky to find a job a few weeks before finishing the diploma. I’m working for a provincial government agency providing admin and graphic design assistance to different programs. Working within this industry has also opened up the doors to freelancing through my design studio, nbdesignstudio.ca.
My plan is to continue to fine tune my design skills at the agency, grow my client base as a freelancer, and a few years down the road to work full time as a freelance designer. I’m also working towards my RGD designation, and looking at courses related to accessible and inclusive design. I would love to specialize in inclusive instructional design.
If you offered one piece of advice to an incoming student, what would that be?
Don’t take the grading feedback as the last step of a project. That feedback is full of actionable items provided by your expert instructors on how to improve your technique. Work on those points and revise your files, even after the term is done. Work hard and be proud of every single design you complete. You’ll be setting yourself up for success for your final portfolio, and ready to start your career!