Employers We Love: Nationwide

March 19th, 2012 by Katlin McNally
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Nationwide downtown office

They can be found working on branding or pulling together a commercial or photograph. They’re our alumni, and they work for one of the leading insurance companies in the country, Nationwide. We recently got a chance to chat with four CCAD grads about what it is like to work with fellow alumni at Nationwide.

Meet Brand/Reputation Director Tara Roe (Illustration, 1999), Campaign Manager Pamela Watkins (Advertising & Graphic Design, 1983), Creative Director Marc Lincewicz (Illustration, 1992), and Multimedia Senior Coordinator Mary Kay Kemper (Advertising & Graphic Design, 1991).

Q) What is it like to work with other CCAD alumni?

Tara Roe (TR):  It’s fun! There is a common understanding of design and color because we all had the same foundation courses. CCAD grads have a lot of pride in their work and it helps Nationwide’s design continue to grow and evolve.

Pamela Watkins (PW): It’s great to find out someone is a graduate of CCAD—because of foundation courses and instructors, you immediately have a bond with a co-worker. It is also fun to see where we have landed; our careers can take such diverse courses.

Marc Lincewicz (ML): I guess I would say that when I discover that someone I’m working with has graduated from CCAD it forms sort of an instant bond. We have an understanding that we both went through a similar learning experience and probably have similar levels of understanding with regards to finding creative solutions to complex problems. It’s sort of that unsaid wink and smile that we get each other.

Mary Kay Kemper (MK): It’s great to re-connect with people I went to school with and to meet other alumni. It’s almost like they get it and they have a slightly better work ethic then others (at times).

Q) Why do you think Nationwide has a lot of CCAD alumni?

TR: Nationwide is a great place to work! We have a great creative culture within our design teams and they are encouraged to challenge ideas and push the envelope. There are also a variety of projects and opportunities to move within the company.

PW: There are so many opportunities at Nationwide that incorporate a part of your education from CCAD. We have great creative teams. Having both CCAD and Nationwide as such a big part of Columbus’ culture, it only makes sense that so many of us end up here.

ML:  Some people may be surprised to learn that Nationwide recognizes the impact that strong creativity has on our ability to communicate with our members. In my experience, on the design side of my training, CCAD taught me to always create with users in mind. People may be unaware that Nationwide sells much more than just auto insurance. Our in-house creative also consists of an internal photography department, web and interactive teams, video production, photo retouching, and we’re even moving towards 3D modeling. I also think Nationwide understands that CCAD turns out quality people who are prepared to take on a variety of creative challenges. Finally, the combination of the company wanting to be a creative leader and having a leading creative institution in the same city simply works well together.

MK: A big perk is having Nationwide located conveniently near the school. I was out of state for a while and when I returned to find work in Columbus I knew having a CCAD education on my resume would be a big benefit.


Remodeled Nationwide plaza/lobby

Q) Any advice for current students or fellow alumni who want to become involved at Nationwide?

TR: I started at Nationwide as an intern after attending a job fair just before graduating. My advice is to show up to job fairs and make connections. It truly is a key to building your network. It’s all about who you know. That will help you get the time to prove yourself to a potential employer. Have a strong portfolio, practice interviewing, and continue to push yourself creatively.

PW: Never close the door on what you might bring to the table as a result of your excellent education at CCAD. After a long career in graphic design, my first job at Nationwide was as a print buyer. That opened so many doors, and now I’m a campaign manager for Nationwide Financial, who would have thought!

ML: It can be a long, hard, and competitive process to break into Nationwide. The best approach is to be willing to start in a junior position and work your way up. If you are an alumnus with experience, your book needs to show serious talent and a commitment to your craft. Either way, a candidate’s book needs to be excellent, clean, and professional.

MK: A good way is to start as a contractor and test the water, see if Nationwide is right for you while the company will see if you will work out. I contracted for a while before going full time.

Q) Why do you love your job?

TR: I love managing a team of campaign managers and working daily with designers and writers. Although I’m no longer designing myself, I know that I need to stay close to it. Creative people bring so much more energy to the table.

PW: I still get to be a huge part of the creative process without doing the actual designs. I co-lead projects from strategy through completion. I’m always working on various platforms from collateral to conferences to web presence. I still get to partake in the background I love, while learning new things and developing new relationships every day.

ML: I love that Nationwide offers more creative opportunities than many people realize. I love the variety of creative challenges—there’s something new each day. I’ll be honest, I love a steady paycheck; the freelance world wasn’t for me, although I understand the corporate world is certainly not for everyone. I also like that what I do plays a small part in helping people get their lives back together after a problem. This company believes in the success of our city and our community.

MK: I just love it here and love the people! It’s a great creative environment!

Q) What past experiences do you share and remember from being a student at CCAD? How has this impacted your professional career? 

TR: I do lunch with Marc Lincewicz. We challenge each other to work on our art outside of Nationwide since we are both in management roles. I continue using my Color Concept and 2D skills in creating cards and occasionally selling them at the CCAD Art Sales, and Marc has showed his drawings/paintings in local art galleries. It’s great to have a fun, creative full-time gig, but also express our art on the side.

PW: All nighters! I worked part time, so my time was valuable and every minute counted. That taught me the discipline it takes to run a large campaign, work with so many teams, and balance budgets and deadlines. I also have an eye for what works and what doesn’t from messaging through design and that doesn’t come naturally. My education taught me to look at the details.

ML: My experience at CCAD was about constant work, a ton of pressure, and deadlines. I learned those deadlines had to be met. (Even the time I was at the hospital at 3 a.m. getting stitches for an Exacto knife cut.) It was an endless period of trial and error, of reworking and refining. I remember on my orientation day, President Cazani said to the freshmen, “Look to your left, look to your right, those people will not be with you on graduation day.” I knew at that moment I was probably facing a tough four and half years (it took 4.5 years to earn a BFA when I attended CCAD).  But the program being that tough taught me that I could take on seemingly impossible challenges. While I was never the smartest or the most talented artist, I knew I could hold my own. That core idea has stayed with me during my 17 years with Nationwide. It also applies to my fine art work that I do outside of the office.

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