“I’ve always loved design and would admire the look of and typography on everything from billboards to menus, but never really knew that was something you could do—as a job,” Director of First Impressions Jewel Mastrodonato said.
Everyone has a vision of where they want to go but needs to start somewhere. For Jewel, a graphic design student at Monroe Community College, her future is one where she can use her profession as a way to inspire people through art.
In fact, Jewel found her starting point at Dixon Schwabl somewhat by chance.
After graduating from SUNY Brockport with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, she was confronted with her future and felt unsure about the route she was on. She began temping at various companies in Rochester and was presented with the opportunity to fill in here at Dixon Schwabl. Working through a temp agency, Jewel thought she would be at the agency, well, temporarily. She took on the role of Director of First Impressions and found it increasingly hard to think about leaving. Around that same time, she had started taking classes at MCC.
“People around the agency know graphic design is something I’m going to school for, so they are great about asking what I’m working on and giving me the chance to take on some internal projects. I welcome every opportunity,” she said.
Members of the creative department took Jewel under their wing, carrying out formal reviews of her work after each semester, assigning internal projects and just being there to answer questions she has about graphic design. One of those internal projects was designing placards carrying various quotes that agency teammates find inspiring. Once these quotes were compiled, Jewel helped turn some of them into art that hangs at the DS internal art gallery—affectionately called The Level of Love Louvre.
Jewel reaps the rewards of being exposed to professionals from her intended career path on a daily basis. “She can see the speed that work comes through the agency, as well as how things change often,” said Mark Stone, a managing partner and chief creative officer.
However, opportunities like these don’t come around by chance; instead, they’re a recognition of hard work and talent.
“First of all, she’s good,” Stone said. “Jewel’s becoming a very solid designer but is also humble. … She’s not afraid to explore deep and just really go for it.”
Beyond just sharpening her teeth with the creative team, Jewel thinks her position as director of first impressions affords her an excellent chance to become well-rounded professionally.
“I get to see everyone,” Jewel said. “I feel like I get to be involved in all of the departments.”
As Jewel continue her studies, she hopes to explore further what she loves about graphic design and dreams of someday having a place at Dixon Schwabl where she can create inspiring work every day.
“When you see someone who is so into what they are doing and you watch the sacrifices they make to get someplace new, it’s incredibly inspiring,” Stone said. “The agency in general believes that ideas can come from anywhere. Who doesn’t want to work at a place like that?”
Chris Parsons interned at Dixon Schwabl in the summer of 2018 in the public relations department. He expects to graduate from the SI Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in May 2020 with a BS in public relations and a marketing minor. If you find Chris bleeding orange, don’t call the ambulance … it’s just a Syracuse thing.”