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Graduating with a major in art and minors in German and Philosophy, Amber Rousse completed her studies at UW-Superior in 2005. Though she was originally from Minnesota, Rousse made the decision to bring her work to Sweden after meeting her husband while studying abroad in Germany. It was there that she made the big decision to open her own business, ARetouch, where she is now working as a Photo Retoucher and Graphic Designer.
Rousse first began working with photo alterations when she had her high school graduation pictures taken. After spending some time at the studio, the workers became aware of her enthusiasm to learn more about retouching, and they offered her a position working with them at their office. This apprenticeship is what gave her the first opportunity to really delve further into her interests.
After working a few years with this studio and another similar company in a neighboring town, Rousse's passion for the job had grown even more. In order to continue along with her creative spark, she took art classes while attending college in Superior. After graduation she took a big step and decided to create her own business for which she is the sole worker. As a Photo Retoucher, Rousse is working as a freelancer based out of Sweden. Even though she cannot physically market herself everywhere, it is her aspiration to obtain a wide client base of people from all over the world, which is made possible because her work can all be done electronically.
The main customers that Rousse works with are professional photographers, models, and other types of advertising companies that want their pictures to look flawless. Since she has a special talent working with skin retouching, her work is mainly focused on altering pictures of people, though she also does work with fashion and other products as well.
Working as the lone member of her business, there are plenty of highlights to her job. She is not bound to a certain work schedule and can be very flexible with when she works and with whom. She enjoys the ability to be able to choose which projects that she wants to undertake, and there is no pressure from anyone else to force her into working with a certain client. Another huge benefit to her job is that it is all done through the computer. This means that she can spend her day working from home on the couch, or even bring her work with her on vacation. As long as she is connected to her computer, she can ultimately work from anywhere. Most importantly, this job is perfect for her because it is something that she truly loves doing. To be able to do what she loves every day and get paid for it is something that holds great value.
Unfortunately, there are still a few road bumps that Rousse has to deal with in her work. Being the only worker, she is forced to take charge of everything from marketing herself and her work to dealing with taxes and other financial responsibilities. It is also hard for her to set prices for the work she does. She explains, "Many say I charge [too] little, but I am afraid I won't get clients if I charge too much. I have to learn to build confidence in my value." After working with a photographer in Europe, she got some uplifting feedback from him as he said, "Send me the bill again at double your price." There is no doubt from comments like this that her work is done well, and pricing difficulties will continue to work themselves out over time through responses like this.
Even though Rousse does not believe that a degree is necessary for the type of work that she is doing, she still does not deny the benefits that come from a college education. It is her belief that a degree in Graphic Design would be immensely helpful for working with various aspects of the job, since it would provide a deeper knowledge of the design programs that are frequently used. Her education in Art certainly helped to build upon her knowledge and creativity as well.
While she was attending UW-Superior, Rousse was also a member of the Phi Sigma Sigma sorority on campus. This group encouraged her to get involved with things that could be used to enhance not only herself, but her resume as well. She also credits this group with helping her to build upon both her leadership skills and her ability to network with others.
One of the best opportunities that Rousse was given while in college was her chance to study abroad for a semester in Germany. If she had once piece of advice to share with students it would be to take advantage of an opportunity like this. She claims, "I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for my study abroad experience." Not only did her travels give her a new level of confidence, but it is also through her travels that she met her husband, and it the reason why she is now working in Sweden. Without her study abroad experience, her life would not even be close to the way it is now. She reflects, "Now I have the best life I couldn't have even imagined. I like to say that my 16-year-old self is jealous of me, because of all the dreams I have accomplished."
In the future, Rousse hopes to continue to develop her photo retouching skills and learn more about programs that she is not as familiar with now. As she knows, "The [key] to success is to never be too complacent: there are always new things to learn and keep up with in technology." A suggestion for career success that she would like to share to students would be to find experiences that are relevant to what you want to do in life. Rousse believes that experience is really what can set you up to obtain a good job, even if you may be lacking in formal education. She encourages people to go for it and make the most out of any opportunity that presents itself. She shares, "I've had all of my best experiences by just jumping in and doing it!!"
Amber Rousse was interviewed as a part of the Career Services Day in the Life project. Her full interview and those of other UW-Superior alumni can be found on the Day in the Life website, http://www.uwsuper.edu/career/students/a-day-in-the-life.cfm.
Interview conducted by Kristen Jasperson on January 11, 2013. Article written by Kristen Jasperson.
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