VIQTORY was founded by 3 Navy Veterans in 2001 and our overarching goal has remained the same ever since: to connect the military community with civilian opportunities. Whether that be joining the civilian workforce or exploring educational and entrepreneurial opportunities, we’re proud to say that we have been doing just that for almost two decades. We pride ourselves on our company culture and believe that its strength is rooted in and reflected by the quality of talent we employ.
For this Employee Spotlight, we’re taking a look at our Art Director, Mike Asper.
When the goal of your organization is to connect the military community with civilian opportunity, who better to help in those efforts than somebody who has served and made the transition to the civilian workforce? Luckily for VIQTORY, that’s Mike’s story. Mike served for six years in the Marine Corps Reserve from 2005–2011 where he was a 3531 Motor Vehicle Operator and was deployed twice to Iraq. As Mike put it, “I basically went out on convoys and either drove the trucks (HMMWVs, MTVRs and MRAPs), operated the radio in the passenger seat, or sat in the turret and manned the machine gun.” When I asked him how he felt the service prepared him for the civilian world, his answer was straightforward. “It gave me a perspective that most civilians don’t have. No matter how bad a day at work is, I’ve dealt with worse.”
After his service, Mike attended The Art Institute of Pittsburgh where he received his degree in Graphic Design and even managed to earn “Best in Show” at his class’s portfolio show. Shortly after graduating, Mike was contacted by VIQTORY’s HR team to come in for an interview where he accepted a position as a Graphic Designer. Here’s how he put it. “I came in and got the job. A local veteran-centered company looking for a designer just as I got out of the military and finished design school? The stars aligned on that one.”
Mike has been with VIQTORY now for just over 8 years and has risen to the rank of Art Director. While he started out as a graphic designer, he’s absorbed numerous other responsibilities since then, primarily centered around attracting our military audience. That could be marketing and promotion around our products, events, and services. It could be posting content to our website and social media accounts. And it’s most definitely compiling, analyzing, and reporting metrics as well as putting together our G.I. Jobs magazine each month. Mike has his hands in just about every department to some degree and I speak for all of us when I say those departments are better off for it.
Like many of us, Mike has been enjoying his time working from home. “Luckily, I now work from home, so I no longer have to spend the first few hours of my day fighting over the bathroom and sitting in traffic. I typically start my day early in my studio with a cup of coffee or tea and take care of any administrative tasks like responding to emails and going over my list of priorities. Once I know what I need to get done for the day, I put on a podcast and dig into whatever projects I’m working on which could be anything from designing an ad, to setting up a photoshoot or pulling a metrics report. I also have plenty of virtual meetings peppered in throughout the week to stay aligned with the team.”
I went on to ask how he feels he’s grown over his 8 years with VIQTORY and here’s what he had to say, “VIQTORY is a small company, and you often have to do things outside of your job description. While many—understandably—are deterred by this, I view it as a learning opportunity. I’ve gained so much experience and skills outside of my specialty over the years. This can open doors to bigger opportunities in the future.”
Inside and outside of the office, Mike is a jack of all trades. You might bump into him at one of the local comic or record shops in Pittsburgh as he adds to his, “ever-growing” collections, or hopefully at a live concert as things start to open up. He also spends his time creating, reading, traveling, and running (six full marathons so far!!) Mike enjoys spending time with his wife, family, friends, his English Bulldog, Smedley Darlington, and his two cats, Harvey Loo and Leonidas. And like all good Pittsburghers, Mike roots on the Penguins, Steelers, and Pirates.
Mike’s technical design skills paired with his ability and willingness to learn and adapt on the fly make him an invaluable member of our VIQTORY team. When asked what advice he would give to someone just starting out their professional career his advice was solid. “Do as much research as you can. There are so many opportunities out there, but a good career most likely isn’t just going to fall into your lap. Compare different companies and different industries. How much money do you want/need to make? How many hours are you OK with working? Does your lifestyle require more flexibility? Do as much work upfront as you can to avoid struggling later.” Coming from an individual who served, went through the world of higher education, and transitioned to the business world, I would take the man’s advice. Here’s to 8 more years, Mike!