Besides impressing us with her excellent portfolio, we were also delighted to learn Molly landed her dream job at Williams Sonoma only days after finishing her coursework in the DCA program. We recently caught up with her via email to discuss her thoughts about the program, pursuing the design field, and advice for those of us just getting started.
Tell us about your background and what led you to pursue a design education?
I have been interested in design for as long as I can remember. Growing up I was really drawn to interior design, although I always considered that just a hobby. I ended up studying Sociology as an undergraduate at UCLA, not knowing what I wanted to do after. I had an itch to be more creative, though. I interned with an event designer and producer and also for a wedding designer in LA. I fell in love with weddings – the details, the design, the branding, the paper – it really excited me. I worked on blogs, storyboards, concepts, etc. and I increasingly saw the importance of a background in graphic design. After much thought, I decided that was the logical next step for me.
Looking back, what are your thoughts about the DCA program and why did you choose UCLA Extension?
I researched programs and found that UCLA had both relevant course offerings and a schedule that allowed me to continue working while taking classes. I was very interested in learning calligraphy at the time, and stumbled upon the work of Molly Suber Thorpe. I read that she was a graduate of the DCA program, so I emailed her and asked her some questions about it. All answers were positive and exactly what I wanted to hear before signing up. The program ended up being perfect for me. My instructors were phenomenal, my classmates were smart and creative, and the courses were very relevant to the real world. The program was thorough, but I never felt like it was dragging on.
What was your favorite class and why?
This is a tough one. Design II with Henry Mateo is at the top, along with Publication Design with John Beach. Both instructors really made my DCA experience what it was. They taught us to think like designers and really pushed us to create amazing work. They were wonderful creative directors. I actually wish I was still taking classes with them today!
Tell us about your current position and what led you there?
While I do love the wedding world, I wanted corporate experience when I finished the DCA program. Williams-Sonoma was always a dream company for me; I felt like my style and passions were in line with their brand. I ended up getting an interview 2 weeks before classes ended, and started working there right after I graduated. I am a designer on the e-commerce team, so I design for web all day, everyday. It is actually very different from what I thought I would end up doing, but it has been a wonderful experience so far. I am learning a ton, and it is great to work on a large creative team. There is a lot to learn from everyone!
As a designer, what does a potential project need to have for your to feel passionate about it?
I definitely have a style and I always tried to stick with it when designing in class. Henry used to tease me because I wouldn’t want to stray from it. If I am not interested in what I am designing, it’s hard for me to be passionate and creative. But ultimately, that is a problem a lot of designers face. We don’t always get to pick our projects – we design for a client, not for ourselves.
Any advice for budding designers just starting out?
Keep designing! Update your portfolio and have an online presence. Take the job even if you think it isn’t the perfect one. You will end up learning something new and it will likely be something that will be very useful for you going forward.