Courtney Caldwell arrived at Cañada College in the fall of 2007 eager to explore the field of digital media but not sure what career track to pursue.
“Cañada had the most flexible digital arts program as it offered classes in animation and video game art, fields that other campuses didn’t offer,” she said. “I wanted the flexibility and options to take classes in different digital art and multimedia fields so I could figure out my own career path. I ended up taking nearly every class in the program as they were all so interesting and challenging.”
Caldwell held a bachelor’s degree in Art and Art History from UC Berkeley before enrolling at Cañada. She had graduated from Aragon High School but didn’t have a lot of job-specific focus. Years later, she realized that she wanted to pursue a career in digital media. “It wasn’t until I got to Cañada that I found that focus,” she said.
Caldwell said the digital arts program at Cañada provided all of the tools necessary for her to succeed. “I had access to the latest software and hardware along with the expert instruction from people that had worked in the industry for years,” she said. “They knew the basics and kept up with the changes in web design techniques, technology, and best practices.”
The faculty was instrumental in her success, Caldwell said. “Every professor in the department had a huge impact on how I shaped my portfolio and my career because they were my guides to a new chapter in my life. They were very enthusiastic. That’s really important because it helps students keep their passion to improve their portfolios and maintain focus on their career goals.”
Cañada Multimedia Professor Paul Naas said Caldwell was the kind of student professors love to have in class: inquisitive, energetic, always asking questions, and wanting to go beyond the basics of the course. “She absolutely made the most of her time here,” he said. “Not only did she take nearly every class the department offered, but she was also a lab assistant, an art gallery assistant, a member of PTK (Honors), and even put together one of our annual art gallery shows.”
Naas said Caldwell is still active with the college, serving as a web design representative on the Multimedia Art & Technology Advisory Board.
While finishing her degree at Cañada, Caldwell was hired by Hotwire.com as a production artist and copywriter. She was later hired by Blue Shield of California to work with their User Experience Team and is now a web content strategist at Wells Fargo.
And what advice would she give students pursuing a career in digital arts or web content development? “Give it your all,” Caldwell said. “Investing in your career starts by taking your skills seriously and using the classroom as a place to build them. Use the resources available to you, including your teachers, counselors, and classmates. Don’t waste your time or your money in any class if you aren’t going to do your best to knock it out of the park. Remember, people in your class and on campus could become someone that can give you a job later, so you always have to do your best.”