Graduating During A Pandemic
The MICA Experience.
Haley: “In order to talk about my experience at MICA, I need to give a little bit of background. I went to Mercer County Community College for two years, then I took a year off to work as an intern for Domain and to work on my transfer portfolio and application. Then I spent two years in Baltimore at MICA getting my BFA in Graphic Design. The thing that really stood out to me is that it wasn’t an environment both socially and academically that I had been exposed to before. Mercer was a great choice for me, but it didn’t have the college atmosphere. It didn’t have the rigorous art work ethic that a lot of the students at MICA have.”
Haley: “At MICA, they were trying to strike a balance between teaching us the fundamentals of design, like typography, and teaching more specific software things to make us more employable. I took classes in Motion Graphics, Web Design, Front End Web Dev, 3D Modeling, and stuff like that. I used some of what I learned at Domain on the marketing side for specific projects, like talking about SEO with my peers, which I thought was interesting.”
Haley: “My favorite class was probably one I took in my last semester. It was called Practice Based Studio, and it was this interdisciplinary class. It was hosted by the graduate social design program and it focuses on this idea of human-centered design, which is a fancy term that basically details a process that makes your systems better by listening to your users. The way that the class works is that you learn this and then you apply it through a real world problem. That semester we were doing a collaboration with the Baltimore Mayor’s Office of Employment Development to help the job seeker process.”
Haley: “We did a bunch of research and went there to observe how the system worked. We interviewed a ton of people and generated these patterns, themes, and personas to help focus us. Then we created all of these ideas that could help them, and then we had to run through the feedback process. Go back, refine, go back again, refine. We ended up with these concepts that they could actually use and would potentially be implemented if not for COVID.”
Haley: “The process itself during that class is actually so flexible and adaptable to so many different contexts. I think also it goes to show how intertwined the world of design, marketing, and sales are. A lot of people, even people within those disciplines themselves are like, ‘oh, I’m totally not that.’ But actually we have a bunch of things in common, and we can all work together.”
Personal and Professional Growth.
Haley: “I think something that stood out to me was being able to create a tool set I needed to be confident in my work. The way that the critique happens at art school, it just goes and goes, and you really don’t have time to overthink in a way. That can be a little bit liberating. It helped me get out of my own head, really just focus on making stuff, and then gradually improve from project to project.”
Haley: “One of the first times that the podcast happened, we were testing something, and you wanted to test it out by interviewing one of the interns. I think that I was the one who first sat down. We started rolling the camera, and I just cracked up. I had to leave. I compare that to the experience that I had in that class that I had mentioned, the Practice Based Studio. How I interviewed 10 completely random strangers about unemployment. It’s a sensitive topic. It’s people looking for jobs. That’s how much I have grown as a person because of my time at MICA.”
Haley: “I think that being able to do a long-term internship is really great and can be a really amazing experience. I think that a lot of it just comes down to knowing what you want and knowing how to get it. Being able to do the research into wherever you’re looking to apply, the research into how to make a portfolio. If you’re looking at it from a designer marketing perspective, being able to have a good resume and connect with people.”