Why choose Drexel?
In the early 2000's the intersection of design and business was not what it is today! Back then there weren't a lot of business-minded design programs. I chose Drexel because of the co-op opportunities and practical applications of design to real-world problems - it didn't let me down! The program helped me learn exactly how I wanted to channel my creativity to business applications.
Why choose Graphic Design?
I declared my major on application - I had known for sometime that graphic design was going to be my passion. Thanks to a amazing graphic design mentor and teacher I had in high school, I had a strong foundation in graphic design from my high school classes going in. However, the Graphic Design program at Drexel has grown in such exciting ways since I left—I was just back in their studios a few months ago to visit professors Bill Rees, Jody Graff and Sandy Stewart and the new Product Design program, and lab spaces are incredible. If I were entering the program today, I would probably have double majored in Graphic Design and Product Design.
What was your favorite class and how did it affect your journey?
The most formative class in terms of the direction that I ultimately took my career was professor Jody Graff's class on Information Design. At that time the design speciality of infographics was really on-trend, and I fell in love with the intersection of data and design. Learning how to translate and synthesize complex sets of data and information into clear, compelling visuals is a skill that I still lean into everyday in my work and is a big part of what launched me into my career and leadership role today.
How was your Co-op experience?
My co-op experience was fantastic - my time at the Philadelphia Museum of Art both as a co-op and as a employee after my internship was a delight. My favorite part about that job was getting to be close to the artwork when the museum was closed. I also got to design a map that hung right next to a Renoir painting—so I like to say that I shared a wall with Renoir.
What do you currently do professionally?
These days I am the Director of Design at Conifer—a boutique research and innovation consultancy based out of Chicago. Our work is typically at the front end of innovation, conducting user research to inform new product innovations and business strategy. My work takes me all over the world as well as weird corners of America exploring the business problems and design opportunities that exist within everyday experiences, services and product offerings. Every client and project is a little different—which keeps things interesting! During the summer of 2018, I studied candy consumption (so much fun!) to help a Fortune 500 company develop foundational insights to inform their product innovation pipeline. In September of 2018, I traveled across the country auditing the Customer Experience at a major home improvement retailers to identify how new design solutions might help improve their sales. Next, I studied Live TV consumption (and how that has changed in a streaming-forward world), and worked on a future Smart Home retail concept. With all of these projects, there is always a way that design methods play a critical role in surfacing and communicating the business opportunities.
Any advice for Graphic Design students?
Make the most of the amazing lab spaces you have! I wish I had access to what you have in your studios - the possibilities are endless when you can just roll up your sleeves and make.
Don't be afraid of jobs and roles that might seem like a stretch from traditional design studio roles. Look for opportunities to collaborate with people outside your discipline. Some of the best work you will ever do as a designer happens when you collaborate with people with skill sets different than your own.