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Q & A with Chaifetz School Junior Abby Kwon

Abby Kwon (CSB ‘22) is a junior marketing major with a minor in visual communications. Kwon has built quite the impressive resume: In just over two years as a SLU student, she’s done work for six different companies and has built her own brand strategy and design business from the ground up. We recently connected with Kwon for a Q&A during which she shared about her most recent internship as a remote graphic designer for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and offered advice for other students looking to pursue a career in graphic design.

An aerial photo of SLU's campus in the fall.

Fall colors seen from above at Saint Louis University's North Campus. 

Tell us about your role with the DNC this fall.

I’m the design intern on the mobilization team. I’ve been working with them since September, and the internship will run until the end of November. 

The mobilization team is similar to marketing, and does a little bit of everything: digital organizing, advertisements, social media, design, video, analytics and more. Part of my role on the design team is creating social graphics to educate people about the resources they need to vote, especially because more people voted with mail-in ballots this year. Basically, a big part of my job is ensuring people know where and how to vote.

What kinds of tools do you use to create your designs?

Typically, I use Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. Sometimes I use Sketch as well, which I haven’t often had an excuse to use, so it’s been nice to play around with that and learn something new. I upload everything into Dropbox and communicate with my team via Slack.

About how many hours per week are you dedicating to this internship? 

It’s been pretty crazy. Right now, it’s been about 20 or 30 hours every week. Whenever I’m not in class or have some free time, I get my work done. 

What does a typical day as an intern look like?

We have an online board with design tickets where people from the mobilization team can pick up projects. My manager, a design director, assigns those tasks to us. Usually I work with another designer on the team to help build something out; for example, if there’s a graphic that needs to go out to all 50 states, I’ll help tailor that graphic for each state. 

It takes a long time, but I like doing that type of work. Every day brings a new project--I never know what’s going to be thrown at me. 

What’s your favorite part of the job? 

Definitely the fast-paced nature of the work, and getting to work during an election. Politics can be so unpredictable, so you have to stay on top of the news cycle and be ready for anything. 

Do you have a dream job? What do you hope to do post-graduation?

I definitely want to keep politics open, but for next summer I’ve been exploring the possibility of working in the technology industry. I was exposed to the field last summer when I worked in corporate communications for Zebra Technologies, a product and solutions company. During my internship, I wrote web articles, drafted emails, prepared presentations and assisted with their diversity and inclusion initiative.

As far as politics goes, in the future I’d be open to doing a primary campaign or something a little more grassroots than what I’m doing now. The contrast between working with the DNC and something smaller would be interesting. 

What’s been the most helpful class you’ve taken in college so far?  

I took business law with Professor Volpe in the fall of my sophomore year. He’s so knowledgeable and really knows what he’s doing, and what I learned in that class was very helpful in learning the legal side of running a business.

Over the summer, I did some freelance graphic design and worked with my own clients. I didn’t know anything about setting up contracts before I took Professor Volpe’s class, but now I feel a lot more comfortable with the legal side of being an independent contractor. It was really cool to see what I learned in the classroom directly apply to the work I was doing as a freelancer. 

Do you have any advice for other students hoping to work in graphic design? 

Definitely find an internship or an opportunity where you can learn a lot about what you’re studying or interested in. My freshman year, I interned for a small startup, and that’s where I discovered my passion for marketing, technology and design. Finding any opportunity to explore your interests, whether that be through a job shadow or an internship, will be really helpful to you when you’re looking for a job in the future. 

I’d also add that it’s never too early to start working toward your career. You don’t have to wait for your junior or senior year to get an internship--it’s never too early to start learning and getting ahead.