• Nikki Tomak

Nikki Tomak: Professional Newbie

As I was growing up my family moved around a lot which, looking back, I really enjoyed. Even though I was young, I really took in my surroundings and wouldn’t change seeing our beautiful United States the way I did for a thing. We lived in Florida, California, Nevada, Arizona and Pennsylvania before finally landing in Columbus, Ohio, where I went to public school for the first time after being home-schooled until the sixth grade.

After that, I was new again when we moved during my sophomore year of high school to the Cleveland area. Then I was new to Kent State University, where I got my BA in Visual Communication Design and a minor in Marketing. From the time I was in high school until I graduated college I held a slew of different jobs, some of them at the same time.

I’m barely able to count the number of times I’ve been new; I’m practically a professional newbie. I’m really, really good at being the new girl. Really good.

At some point, everyone has moved, started a new job or just been new to his or her dentist office. Change is inevitable and constant in our lives; it’s important to embrace it. I’ve just done the “new” thing at least twice as many times as most. And along with being new comes unfamiliar people, rules, territory, experiences and even complications.

Fast forward past my college graduation, past two amazing internships and my first real job. I’m new AGAIN. My first week here at dRC was spent observing, figuring out my environment and my new coworkers. Second week in and being new isn’t as bad as I remember. Any anxiety I had about starting over again has vanished quickly. Fitting in is happening easily. One theory as to why this transition is easier is that, perhaps, at this point in my life and career I’m a little more confident in my skills, my work and myself. I have another theory as well — the people here make the difference. Rather than just waiting for me to try with them, they actually tried to be friendly with me. Here, people listen to me rather than just nodding their heads while waiting for their turn to say something. It was unusual at first, but heartening.

Coming into this experience, I truly had no idea what I was in for. I’d just spent two years at a bigger agency, and the experience I’d had at a smaller agency (similar in size to designRoom) as an intern years before was but a distant memory. Now that I have a better idea of what to expect, I’ve come to the realization that I’m really enjoying where I am and also pretty tired of being new all the time. In the past, when people have asked where I was from, I used to reply: “I don’t exactly know.” Now I’ve made Cleveland my home, so I’m going to start saying that. I want to stay in one place, put down roots and spend more time being old news.