“E” for Experience
Emma Eble will be walking in the 2015 Fall Commencement to receive her bachelor in Graphic Design degree (Dec. 17, 2015). She is excited for the challenge but nervous for what the future holds. The future for Eble will be exciting. You see, Eble looks at things with optimism and confidence, and one cannot miss or appreciate her sense of passion for everything she does. And she does a lot.
In her junior year of high school, Eble realized she needed to make a decision on her future college path, and she contemplated two things: “What am I going to do for the rest of my life, and, whatever it is, I want to do something that makes me happy,” she states. Eble has several family members who are designers, and one of her favorite interests was watching YouTube videos on creating greeting cards and then making her own designs. Design is something that makes her happy.
Eble toured Auburn University with her aunt, an alumna of their design program. She was inspired by all the studio environments and had the opportunity to view the senior Graphic Design Capstone presentations. It was at this point that she realized graphic design was the career path she would pursue.
After applying to her top three schools and getting accepted to all three, she chose the NC State College of Design. In addition to the great reputation and proximity to her family in Chapel Hill, NC State has a renown University Honors Program (UHP) that she was also accepted into. The UHP is a very competitive and intense curriculum that involves participation in 12-credit hours of innovative seminars, 6-credit hours in a self-designed research project, and commitment to a wide array of University activities and programs. Participating in the UHP takes serious dedication. There has been a limited number of students, prior to Elbe, that have taken part in the UHP while attending the College of Design. This is because the College is known for time-consuming studios, intense curriculum, and rigorous course requirements. Participating in both programs is no easy task.
One can only imagine the challenge faced in her first year, given the time commitment, workload, and the fact that Eble had limited prior art classes in high school. “My first semester was so difficult, as I did not have a lot of experience taking design courses or studio classes. Everyone seemed so much more advanced than me, and I was unprepared for that. I questioned myself and felt inferior. I was torn about what I wanted and if I was in the right place,” Eble says. Luckily she had a great support system of friends and professors here at the College and a close-knit family. The turning point came the second semester when collaborative projects were introduced. Eble began to get more comfortable and excited about what was happening in the classroom and built stronger relationships with her peers.
Quickly, Eble began to excel in her design courses and decided to take on additional activities. She joined the NC State Chorale and a sorority. “I’ve been in choir since 5th grade, and because I really enjoyed it, I felt it was a good idea to get involved here at NC State,” she comments. As a member of the Chorale, she had the opportunity to sing at a mass in the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi in Italy. Eble also presumed extending her participation in broader communities was a good way to meet students from different disciplines. Joining a sorority was one of the best things she had experienced, and she continued to get involved in Greek life here at the University. Eble became an active member of the NCSU Panhellenic Association and held executive leadership positions as Director of Communications and also Director of Leadership Programming. “Greek life gave me the confidence and really supported me. I wanted to invest my time and give back to something that gave me so much. I’ve gained so much more: leadership experience, cultural and diversity exposure. And,” she adds, “I’ve had the opportunity to design some great pieces for my portfolio.”
If you think she didn’t have any additional time for other things, think again. Eble also worked with Traditions Committee and Student Government to design “The Brick.” This publication is given to every freshman and highlights the many traditions and historical relevance within NC State.
Currently, Eble is taking grad level courses within the MBA program. In one of the classes, “Consumer Innovation Practicum (CIP),” students are introduced to the latest methods of consumer research. The course is in partnership with a well-known national consumer brand, and students are involved in various types of research and documentation known as “observational ethnography.” This usually involves a long-term investigation of a specific group or culture of people that is based on immersion and participation within that group. In simple terms, it is the study of being in the environment and situations of a specific group of people and taking part in their everyday activities in an attempt to explain their reliance on group behaviors and interaction. Ethnography provides a detailed exploration of group activities.
Eble’s role has been to research millennials and involves in-depth interviews, interaction, and assessment. “It has been really fascinating. We took participants shopping and they discussed what they would or would not buy for beauty products and their reasoning. We also went to their homes and watched them perform their cleansing regiment; asked questions, videotaped, and interviewed them on preferences within the beauty product lines they used.” She continues, “this class is going to count towards my independent study requirement of my UHP.”
At the same time, Eble is taking “Consumer Behavior,” which is another grad level course. “It’s been engaging and insightful. I love this class. It’s all about how the human brain works and how we respond to advertising. It has been so beneficial and informative to me as a designer,” says Eble.
Recently, Eble was invited to interview with IBM for a UX design position. A phone call led to an invitation to go to Austin, TX for a three-day intense meet-and-greet along with 15 other prospective hires. Three days before her departure, Eble received a design project to complete as part of the interview process. The intent of the project was to see how applicants documented their design process and how they developed solutions. Eble was asked to submit the project within two days and present it on the final day of her interview.
For three days during the interview, Eble had the opportunity to meet, ask questions, and learn about the culture of IBM through various interactions with current employees from various departments within the company. “It was amazing. We (all the interviewees) met with so many people and had the opportunity to see if we would fit within the culture of IBM. They (IBM) really cultivate good employees through a process such as this. I learned a lot from this experience – it was about people skills – and I will definitely use this experience and grow from it,” she says. Eble may not have landed the job with IBM, but her takeaway and experience provided a far greater benefit. She learned how to prepare for interviews, how to navigate through the process, and how to respond to questions.
When asked about the College of Design, Eble does not hesitate: “I love the emphasis that they place on the experience of ‘everything.’ It is not about getting the project done or getting it done on time; it’s about becoming a better designer. About looking at the strengths and weaknesses of yourself and those you may be collaborating with. They are teaching us such valuable things – to look at the experience, to look at those around you with open eyes. They do a good job about teaching things that are un-teachable – to find yourself.” And it seems Eble has found herself in all that she has done and accomplished here at NC State. “There is a genuine connection of helpful, heartwarming people here and so many opportunities – NC State does an amazing job preparing you for the real world – and definitely gave me the confidence I need for my future,” Eble says with passion.