LAKERS TOGETHER: Find out how we're moving forward.
Alumni in Action
Alumni Spotlight: Jessica Biegalle
Current job title
Creative Team Lead of Digital and Social Design at Meijer
Describe your current position
In my current role, I manage a group of graphic designers and art directors who create digital content. This involves facilitating the creative process as my team designs websites, mobile apps, social media posts, photography, video, web banners, and other ad units. I provide feedback and guidance on design and copy and help build branded campaigns and style guides. I also manage the creative execution of art and copy for social media and lead the team in the creation of all Instagram content.
I love being involved in all aspects of the creative process — seeing through my ideas from beginning to end is really fulfilling. Starting with initial pencil sketches and mood boards, art directing in the photo studio, and putting your work together in a final design with the perfect copy is really gratifying. I think the best part of working in a creative field is that there are always new ways to be inspired. I’m never bored.
To what extent does writing relate to your current position? / What type of writing/design do you do for work?
While my current role is more visually focused, I find that it is always important for graphic design and copy to work together harmoniously, so I am often involved both. Both art and the words that accompany it should complement each other and that takes collaboration. I started off as a copywriter, and I still write copy occasionally. I also review all copy written for social media and provide feedback and guidance to writers as needed to ensure that the voice we write in is strong, unified, and true to the brand.
Please briefly describe your path from graduation at GVSU to your current position.
After graduation, I went to Honduras to teach English at an orphanage. It was a great experience that allowed me to exercise my Spanish minor and get outside of my comfort zone. When I came back, I worked a few odd jobs while I tried to find a position that would allow me to write. I found a job working as a designer/writer/photographer at a small fair trade company on the east side of Michigan. I learned a lot in that position, but ultimately wanted to be closer to Grand Rapids and found work as a copywriter at Meijer. I wrote web copy for four years. During that time, I was also doing a few graphic design projects and became very interested in exploring and building these new skills. I grew to love designing and art directing, and how I could impact visuals that would later pair with my words. I ended up joining the design team three years ago, and last year got promoted to my current position as team lead. My current role is part managing, and part design, but it’s a great balance and I very much enjoy both.
What parts of the writing major had the strongest impact on you as a professional?
I think the workshop setting was really valuable to me and helped me grow quite a bit. That’s where I learned to respectfully give critiques and be critiqued. It was helpful to practice that so often. As a professional, so many opinions about design and copy are subjective, so knowing how to turn your subjective opinion in to concrete suggestions is really key when you’re trying to provide actionable feedback for your peers. The workshop setting also helped me learn how to receive feedback in a positive way, and how to put sensitivities aside and focus on improvement. I think I really got a lot out of the workshops, and they pushed me to want to be better.
What advice would you offer to current/future writing majors at Grand Valley?
Invest time in building your portfolio. Most creative managers I’ve worked with care much more about the portfolio than the actual resume. Proving your talent and skill through real examples is important. In the beginning of my career, I did whatever writing assignments I could get my hands on — even if it was for free or for very little pay. This way, when I went to interview for my first full-time copywriting position, I already had several projects to show my prospective employers. Ask friends, ask local business, ask around if they need any writing help. Experience is more valuable than money, especially in the beginning.
Share this spotlight
Return to the listing of alumni in action.