Alumni Throwback: Stephanie Embry

Stephanie Embry, ’17

Graphic Designer, Union Marketing

If you could sum up your experience in Design Works in one-two words, what would it be?

“The first word that comes to mind is ‘fun,’ and I want to say ‘learning-filled,’ but that’s not a word.”

What was your first memory of working at Design Works? 

“My first memory of Design Works is my memory of interviewing. I had a nice skirt on and brought my nice purse with me, and I was really intimidated for some reason. And then once I sat down it was like, ‘Oh, these people are so cool!’ and it wasn’t scary. I was expecting to be very intimidated and scared, and it just wasn’t scary. I think that carries through to my first day at Design Works too. It was like “Oo, I have to wear this polo…this is a job,” and then it was like fine. I didn’t feel intimidated at all. It was great.”

What have you done since leaving Design Works and graduating from UNT? / What do you do now?

“So I graduated in May, I did a six-month internship at RBMM in Dallas- which is kind of like an ad agency -and then towards the end of that internship I knew I didn’t want to stay in Dallas and I also knew I didn’t want to do advertising. So I was on a huge job hunt for like a couple of months there, and then interviewed where I work now- at Thirteen23. We’re like a software/design studio, I guess you could say. I interviewed with them on a Tuesday and they offered me the job on a Friday, and then I moved a little less than two weeks later. So it was like, really fast, and right around Thanksgiving time. So I’ve been there from about Thanksgiving time of 2017, so I’m in my 7th month I think. My title is Associate Designer, and I work on a lot of designing screens for things and designing things for prototyping. Like future-forward sort of stuff, so yeah.”

How did your time at Design Works prepare you for the future?

“Well, I think that the first, most important thing was that my time there was the first time that I was introduced to working with someone outside of design to make something. Up until that point I was in school and working with professors who do that all the time, and classmates who do that with you all the time, so that was the first time I had someone else coming in and saying ‘Outside of your design-land, these are the things that have to happen,’ and then I had to figure out how to balance all the needs of people. I think that helped a lot because I think that’s the hardest problem getting out of school. You’re like ‘Yeah, everything is Design Dream Land; I can do whatever I want!’ and then all of your dreams are crushed. Like, ‘Just kidding! We have financial needs!’ So I think working at Design Works really set me up for success, especially in that first internship where I think for some other interns, their internship was that learning process, but I already had that, so that let me grow further which I think set me up for success at the job in Austin.”

What about Design Works had the greatest impact on you?

“I think like the working environment. The type of people who come and work for Design Works- I just got along with everyone, and I was lucky to work at a place like that. Nobody was there to judge you…and because that feeling was there, it let you grow faster.”

What was your favorite moment at Design Works?

“We had a really good Secret Santa year. And I don’t think it was like just because it was an office party, but everyone had super thoughtful gifts. That was a good moment.”

What was the most important lesson you learned during your time at Design Works?

“I feel like my answer to that question would be about working with students outside of your bubble. That was something that was the biggest lesson, quote-on-quote, that I took on to what I did next.”

Favorite project you worked on? Any that stand out?

“I really liked working on the Music Kiosks. It’s funny because looking at it now, that’s what I do for my job now: design stuff for screens and software. So I look at that and I’m like ‘Ugh, Stephanie, what were you doing?’ with just some small details. But when you look at the whole of it, I really felt like I knew what I was doing. Some of that stuff really set me up for success. And it was really fun and interactive. We got to work with a lot of people.”

What do you wish other people knew about Design Works?

“I wish people knew that there are a lot of things that are beyond a job there. There are opportunities to practice your design skills more, and that goes through like, building relationships, and having a manager, and learning how certain tools work, and learning how to compose yourself in front of clients. I don’t think I had expected all of those things to be included in my experience. I thought I was going to be just sitting at my desk and getting design work under my belt. That’s what I would want people to know.”

A thing you miss about UNT?

“Ohh, I miss everything about UNT. But I didn’t have a great first start- I started school at UT Austin, so I think because I had that first experience of being overwhelmed, it made UNT so much more lovable. I think I miss the people. Yeah. Like all of my professors I thought were super thoughtful, and pretty much every friend I made there I’m still friends with. People look out for each other I feel like. I just miss that whole vibe. And the Union helped with that too, because I feel like the Union itself was sort of a little bubble of friendship. People were friends with UPC people, and then with the other offices too.”

What’s your superpower?

“Anything can be put into a spreadsheet.”

What’s your spirit animal?

“Uh…like a little scruffy dog..a schnauzer dog. Little short schnauzer dog. My first thought is that they’re just really cute and look like old men. Which is weird because I don’t want to look like an old man, but I really like the spirit of that…I don’t know. I’m now realizing that doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

What is your brain food?

“Umm, does that mean like things to stimulate your mind? I have to go with coffee. I just had my second-and-a-half cup this morning.”

What’s on your playlist?

“It’s like 50% girly pop because I need upbeat music all the time, and the other 50%, since we’re getting further into lighter summer, that’s when I start my spooky podcasts. I have these like ghost podcasts that I listen to to get in the mood, so like once Halloween hits, it’s like that’s really where I shine.”

What’s in your bag?

“I now kinda have a mom bag. Which…I never thought I’d be that person. But I have a bag that has like, wet wipes in it, a travel umbrella, bandaids, and like an extra water bottle. For some reason, I’ve now prided myself on being like, ‘Oh, you need that?? Cool. Let me grab it out of my bag!'”

What’s your favorite color?

“Like a dusty pink.”

What is your favorite thing about your job now?

“I like that the work I do is a lot of times future-forward. It looks into what could happen, or what people could be doing 5 years from now. So I like that there’s a lot of problem-solving and that the decisions we make might affect something in a grander scheme later on. That’s pretty exciting.”

Advice for current students?

“My advice would be to take a step back from whatever your major is, and like value your friendships and your relationships with your professors, because that is just as important as the work you leave school with.”