Connecticut Creatives | Emily Karam
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Emily Karam

Emily Karam is a 2021 graduate of the University of Connecticut, with a BFA in Graphic Design. Upon graduation, she started at Miranda Creative in Norwich. We touched base with her to talk UConn, Miranda and getting hired in this current landscape.

Tell us about the UConn graphic design program.

As a subset within the department of Art and Art History, UConn’s Graphic Design program is
unique in that it offers studio courses such as photography and printmaking within a graphic
design education. The curriculum’s core centers around design theory, design thinking, and
visual principles of design that are put into practice through creative briefs and critiques. The
program teaches classes in typography, branding, editorial design, motion graphics, web design,
UI, UX, and depending on the visiting professors — even exhibition design! The facilities add to
the hands-on learning as students are able to see their digital designs in space with the help of
screen, risograph, and letterpress printers in addition to wood and metal shops, the book arts
room, and my personal favorite – the laser cutter. At the end of the day, what really makes
UCGD memorable is the people. The professors and students are passionate about what they
do so to be surrounded by the energy of this close community within a larger university is an
ideal college experience.

How did the program prepare you for entering the workforce, and why should someone
hire a grad of the UConn program?

With a strong foundation in design thinking, I believe the designers that come out of this
program not only know how to design, but also how to articulate and communicate about design
which is essential in the professional world. The program’s award winning student run Design
Center Studio strongly prepared me for the work world. As part of Design Center Studio, I was
able to act as a liaison between the design team and clients, create and present presentations,
and meet design deadlines for printing and production.

What do you think made you stand out and get the interview / get hired?

A strong portfolio website and the ability to confidently tell the stories behind my pieces aided in
the hiring process. Utilizing a website as opposed to a portfolio PDF, elevated the portfolio to a
place that felt professional and ready for potential employers.

Tell us a bit about your experiences at Miranda Creative.

Currently I am a little under 3 months into my journey at Miranda Creative and it has been great!
I immediately realized how well Design Center Studio prepared me. This has made my transition
between the two settings very easy. Miranda Creative is a fast paced environment where I have
not only been able to create assets for many brands but also create new brand identities. Within
the MC community, there are daily creative sessions and multiple opportunities to share work
and receive feedback. In addition to my time spent as a graphic designer, MC has given me the
opportunity to work on UI projects which is very exciting.

How should a graphic design student make the most of school while there, and what
advice would you give to other recent grads in their job search?

While at school, it is important to ask a lot of questions and establish mentor/mentee
relationships with designers at school and in the greater community such as AIGA. Reach out to
departments and organizations at school to see if they need design services, and pursue
internships. Let people know what you are passionate about because they will look out for you
and recommend opportunities.

In my job search I utilized Linkedin, Indeed, and Handshake but what was most beneficial was
going directly to business websites and reaching out via email to ask for opportunities whether
they were hiring or not. Most of all, don’t get discouraged, there is a job waiting for you. Best of
luck!

The process unveiled new avenues of exploration. I never expected to find myself baking chocolate bars, laser cutting chocolate, or screen printing with chocolate syrup.

What is your favorite piece/project in your portfolio, and why?

My favorite piece in my portfolio is Bittersweet, my senior project, which explores the bitter and
sweet perspectives of chocolate. This project had no limitations, therefore allowing me creative
freedom. After discovering chocolate’s historical use as currency and its current link to child
labor, I realized the power of design as a vehicle to educate and enlighten.

I also enjoyed the flexibility of the project and how the process unveiled new avenues of
exploration. This pushed me outside of my comfort zone experimenting with chocolate as a
medium. I never expected to find myself baking chocolate bars, laser cutting chocolate, or
screen printing with chocolate syrup. I consider this project as one of the most novel and
influential pieces I have ever created.