By Nicole Cortese
As graduation quickly approaches, many students must face the fact that there might not be many job opportunities in the real world, let alone in the field they are studying. Students should take notes from adjunct professor Jessi Franko, who overcame the same obstacles many face today and managed to push through the bad economy and end up with her dream job.
Franko originally began her journey at Rider as a communication student. She graduated from Rider with a B.A. in journalism with a focus in multimedia and continued at Rider to get her M.B.A. with a concentration in marketing.
“Rider was my first and only choice,” Franko said. “They have a great multimedia and graphic design program, so ever since then I’ve wanted to do graphic design.”
Franko currently runs a successful graphic design and photography business and has come full circle in her Rider career from student to employee.
Her passion for working in the art industry began when she was in high school and had aspirations of becoming an artist.
“My parents were a little nervous about me wanting to become a full-time artist,” Franko said. “I also had a love of computers and I took a lot of C++ and HTML classes, and they suggested that I combine my love for art with my love for computers and become a graphic designer.”
Her family has an ongoing Rider legacy. The university runs in her family’s bloodline.
“I went to Rider, my sister went to Rider, my cousin was a homecoming queen and then got married at Gill Chapel, and my grandfather went to Rider when it was located in Trenton,” Franko said. “We love Rider.”
Franko’s attraction to the graphic design field expanded when she was able to work directly under the direction of University Photographer Peter Borg through her graduate assistantship. This led to life skills she was able to use for her future career.
Fellow faculty members had nothing but positive things to say about Franko and her teaching style.
“My advisees mentioned they are very happy to have her as a professor,” said Dr. David Dewberry, communication professor and Franko’s mentor. “She’s intelligent, engaging, supportive and full of energy.”
Learning from some of the best at Rider, Franko’s passion for art has been a major influence in her career.
“I kind of think of myself as an artist that markets artists,” she said. “I’ve done sculptures and I’ve done paintings, so I try to incorporate as much of that as I can for my clients.”
With a steady client list, Franko also tries her best to incorporate all of the skills she has learned to benefit her clients.
“When I graduated there were no jobs, so that’s why I decided to go back and get my Master’s degree,” Franko said. “I have my M.B.A, with a focus on marketing and my undergrad in multimedia design so I try to weave them together. I’ve always wanted to have my own business, and it was just the right timing that Rider was looking to hire a new adjunct. I try to collaborate as much as I can with other artists.”
Current colleagues admire her for all that she has accomplished.
“As an alumna of Rider, she is a great role model for students to follow,” Dewberry said. “She once was the learner but now she is the master.”
Franko is ecstatic that she gets to use her degrees in the field she was taught.
“I feel I am working my dream job – I am spreading the love and knowledge of graphic design to other future designers and I also have my own company,” Franko said. “I am surrounded by such amazing and creative faculty in the Communication Department, and I work with artists on a daily basis with my company. I couldn’t ask for anything more. I feel truly blessed and am so grateful for everything.”
Printed in the 4/26/13.