The world of information and communication technologies is so vast and diverse that everybody can find something that they would like to pursue in this field. From making apps, building robots, flying drones to graphic designing and other creative challenges. Another good thing about this industry is that regardless of your limitations you can find a way to adapt your working environment to your needs and make the IT work for you. Tea Šušić, a 25-year old graphic designer from Zadar, has done exactly that, and she keeps on building up on her skills and knowledge as an aspiring graphic designer in Croatia. She holds a degree from the Faculty of Graphic Design and is currently working with a non-governmental organization “Zamisli” (Imagine) in Zagreb. Tea is also a person with hearing impairment. Read more about her path to success in our interview below.
IT Girls: How and why did you decide to study graphic technology?
Tea: I completed my secondary education at the School of Natural Sciences and Graphic Technology in Zadar with a focus on media technology. It was in high school where I first got to work with multimedia, website development and graphic design software. Due to my hearing impairment I was much better at visual media. I became interested in graphic technology and the possibility to create different visual projects. When I finished high school I wanted to go to university and specifically Graphic Design because I couldn’t picture myself doing anything else.
IT Girls: Did the fact that you have a hearing loss ever hinder your plans to pursue a career in graphic design? How did your fellow students behave at university?
Tea: Hearing loss is no obstacle for doing graphic design. In fact, better-developed visual perception can result in a special graphic expression, and a special way you see reality. My professors at university always treated me with respect and acknowledged my efforts. They included me in all the activities, even presenting in front of other students. Of course, in those situations I had assistance from the sign language translator, as well as during oral exams. I followed all the lectures with the help of a typist who typed everything that was being said onto a screen and this is how I was able to follow everything. Thanks to the support of the translator and typist, I completed my studies without having to repeat any year, and without any leftover exams. Many people around me, especially from the Deaf Association, tried to talk me out doing university studies. They were saying that it is impossible for a deaf person to study at this level. However, my will power and motivation was stronger than their negative forecasts. I believed that in life nothing is impossible. Of course I had to put in more effort than people who hear well, but I wanted to prove myself, and others that I can do it. And I did it!
IT Girls: During your studies you also did an internship. How was your first work experience? How did people accept you in their work environment?
Tea: I did my first professional internship at a big printing house where I got familiarized with the entire printing process, from placing an order, preparation, printing to distribution of the printed product. During my internship I had the support of a sign language translator. My coworkers were very friendly and they tried to explain the best way they could how the workflow went. My second internship was at a company that does graphic design and printing of promotional material. There I didn’t have a translator, but I communicated with everyone through email, which is how I received my tasks.
IT Girls: Do you code? How can coding help you in graphic design? Are those two connected and how?
Tea: Three months ago I started a course in web application development. Coding and graphic design are a good match because in order to make innovative and informative web applications you need to know how to do computer programming, from the most simple such as contact forms to the more complicated processes.
IT Girls: Which programming languages are you learning about and why those?
Tea: I am learning how to work in C#, ASP.NET, SQL, ADO.NET and XML. It’s a software package offered in this course, probably because they are easily applicable and sought after in the labor market.
IT Girls: What are you major interests and what would you like to do in the future?
Tea: I am interested in graphic design, but also wider graphic technology, different types of printing on different materials. I like to see the final product, with print on it. I’m also interested in digital and art photography, which is something I would like to do more in the future.
IT Girls: What would be your message to girls and young people in general who wish to take on coding and graphic design?
Tea: It is important to do something we like, we are interested in and something we take pleasure in doing. If we are interested in something then we will be ready to put in an extra effort and learn how to do it. It is important for any occupation, including graphic design and coding. Also, one has to be ready to embark on lifelong learning because the graphic technology sector and coding tend to develop fast with the development of new technologies, and it is a trend we need to follow. Things we learn at university might be considered already obsolete by the time we enter the labor market, because in the meantime other graphic software or programming languages will have been developed. Therefore, it is important to keep abreast of new inventions and new technologies.