Guest Writer – A personal testimony
There were so many unknowns going into attending IWU. What am I going to do with my major? What kind of job will I have? Will I even enjoy that job once I get it? These were the big questions swirling around in my head as I started a brand new, unknown chapter of my life at Indiana Wesleyan University.
After graduating from IWU in 2009 with a degree in Computer Graphics, it became very clear that my dream was to run my own graphic design company. This, however, wasn’t my dream as a scrawny, wide-eyed freshman in 2005. At the beginning of my freshman year, I knew what my major would be and thought I had a decent idea of what I wanted to do after graduation. I had no idea how much I would be molded and shaped along the way.
Those four years had ups and downs, with a lot of work in between. All the classes, tests and projects proved to be the key in my development as a graphic designer. Professors like Rudy and Mazellan are just a couple people who cared enough to take the time to give their expert advice and wisdom to help prepare me for the next step. Professor Rudy was that advisor and teacher who helped guide me along the way. He let me know what to expect in the graphic design industry and how to build my own website from scratch. Professor Mazellan gave me the tools and confidence to start my own business. Both of these men genuinely wanted me to live my dream after graduation.
A job opportunity to be the graphic designer for McConn Coffee Company opened up. They contacted me a couple days later to offer me the position. McConn added valuable experience as I learned more about time management and how to efficiently juggle several projects at one time. McConn would also prove to be a great resume addition as my time at IWU came to a close.
It was the big day. Graduation day came so quickly but I felt ready for the unknown. My peers and I switched our tassels from one side to the other, met with our families and headed out into “the real world”. I got in my car, turned the key and realized the battery was dead. My girlfriend at the time and soon to be wife brought her car over and I hooked up the jumper cables.
Everything pretty standard so far right? I started the car and heard a loud popping noise. I got out and saw the front of my car completely engulfed in flames. People in the parking lot made a perimeter and the Marion fire department rolled in. Everything (and everybody) was okay in the end and now I check twice before hooking up jumper cables. All I can say was that it was a rough start to a real world experience. I could only just watch as my only means of transportation went up in flames.
A couple months after graduation I was offered a graphic design position and soon after I was engaged to my wife Paige. I was so thankful for the opportunity during a very difficult economic time to find a job. Since then, I have had the chance to work for several great companies along the way. These companies were stepping stones toward my dream. Over the next fourteen months I decided to grow my graphic design company Courtright Design while keeping my full time job.
From the onset, Courtright Design couldn’t even be considered a small business. It was more like an idea; an idea that had a logo, website and a few customers here or there. I worked hard to build traffic to the website and began to gain some consistent clients that really helped to build a base for the business. Word of mouth was my only marketing tool. Over time the client base grew at a fast pace and the traffic to the website gained some good momentum. I began to realize all the hard work was paying off! In January 2012, Paige wanted to begin working for the business and took on the design work for one of our biggest clients. Over time, my dream became hers and we absolutely have loved working from home together building our business.
In January 2013, the dream became a reality. My wife and I sat down at a local burger joint and made the decision to resign from my other steady job and run Courtright Design completely “cold turkey” as we called it. It’s been one year since we made that decision and we haven’t looked back. The preparation that IWU provided was invaluable. To go from a graduate with a dream, to an entrepreneur living that dream, is beyond words. Courtright Design continues to grow. We have had the opportunity to do work for hundreds of clients from small businesses and startups to national brands, organizations and universities across the country and throughout the world. More recently we had the opportunity to launch an ecommerce website called the Cre8 Design Store in order to more effectively provide small businesses and startups with a high quality, affordable logo design solution.
I can say with full confidence that none of this would be possible without God opening doors and being so faithful to provide and grow our business. Paige and I often talk about how grateful we are for His continual blessings throughout this journey. The road has been filled with ups and downs, successes and failures. We know that everything we have is His and we strive daily to be good stewards of the business that He has blessed us with. Indiana Wesleyan University provided the solid education and spark to help me realize my dream. Starting out, I wanted a job. By graduation day, I had a dream. The dream became reality and the unknowns became known.
Kyle Courtright, Courtright Design LLC
Homecoming 2014 – October 3 & 4. Join IWU young alumni like Kyle and IWU’s McConn Baristas and other former McConn employees for a reunion (including alumni of the former Common Grounds)