The Making of a True Designer

Jessica Lang makes a big career change after discovering her love of graphic design and marketing

For almost six years, Jessica Lang worked in the wine industry at Trinchero Family Estates. She began as a sales analyst, evaluating inventory numbers, translating data and preparing business reviews. This was a good fit as her bachelor’s degree was in finance.

But a year into the role, Jessica began to collaborate with the winery’s creative department—and her career trajectory shifted. As Jessica got more involved in the marketing side of the business, the more she enjoyed it. She and the design team worked on large branding and print projects for one of the winery’s largest clients, Target, giving Jessica a bird’s-eye view into the graphic design process. And she was hooked on the idea of immersing herself in a creative and fun space.



So when the winery had an opening for a Marketing Project Manager position, Jessica went for it. Both Jessica and her manager knew she was more than capable of taking on this role. Jessica was thrilled to dive deep into this new field of presentation development, wine branding, product launches and package design.

Although she was confident in her ability to succeed, Jessica didn’t feel like a true designer quite yet. As her creative skills were all learned on the job, Jessica felt that she lacked the education needed to grow professionally as a graphic designer.

This meant leveling up her educational experience.

Taking the First Step

Jessica began the search to find a graphic design program that was flexible so that she could continue to work full time. Most importantly, she wanted a program that would teach her the missing skills she needed to call herself a graphic designer.


Our Graphic Design program instantly stood out to her. In June of 2016, she was fully enrolled and rarin’ to go.

Projects That Go a Long Way

While Jessica already had some marketing experience, she was looking forward to taking advantage of the program’s myriad course offerings. She appreciated the curriculum’s structure as it starts with learning about the basic design principles and ends with a professional portfolio course.

Her commitment to the program truly showed as she successfully completed the full  seven courses over the course of a few years while working full time. Her typical day began with a commute from San Francisco to work in Napa and then to UC Berkeley Extension’s San Francisco location for her evening classes. Although the program kept her busy, she knew it would be worth it in the end.

Jessica particularly enjoyed the Illustrator 1 course because of the unique projects she was able to work on. “My favorite part was working on the packaging project,” she recalls. “I love print design because customers can physically touch and feel what you have created. It is more satisfying to me than a digital experience.”

The course that really stood out to her was Graphic and Web Design Portfolio. While it was a tremendous workload, it was the most important piece to the program as it culminated in a professional-looking portfolio to show to future employers or clients.

While her portfolio includes both print and digital work, the latter were especially crucial to have while job-hunting during a pandemic. “The online portfolio was useful to show during interviews. Because it was a cohesive project, I came out with examples of digital brochures, business cards and logos,” Jessica explains.


It’s Holiday Season Everyday

Fast forward to today and we find Jessica confidently calling herself a graphic designer. She’s replaced numbers and spreadsheets with Adobe Creative Suite, working on the Catalog Print and Packing team at Balsam Brands, an artificial Christmas tree and holiday/home decor company.


“I wanted my next job to know me as a designer, not the sales analyst who then went into design,” she explains.


Jessica is a part of a small but mighty design team of four who produce the company’s catalog. “My favorite part of my work is creating tangible designs for my customers,” Jessica shares. 

Balsam Brands produces 10 catalogs each year, keeping her busy with layouts and photo/text placement. After much discussion between Jessica and her entire team, they begin the package design process for all Christmas trees, wreaths, ornaments and garlands. 

“If it wasn’t for the graphic design program, I don’t think I would have been able to get this job,” Jessica enthuses. “This is an entirely new career path I never thought I'd be on, and I am so thrilled that I am.”

And we’re thrilled for you, Jessica!