Taking a Chance
“Don’t count yourself out from something because you are younger or less qualified; you never know what people are thinking or looking for. You may just score something, so take the chance.”
This is the advice from Macklin Frazier, who believes that taking chances led him to where he is today. Frazier is a senior who is double-majoring in Graphic Design at the College of Design and Art Studies at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHASS). He began in Art Studies before he made the transition to the College of Design. “Art Studies is a mix between creative and analytical disciplines; the formal qualities of art and the impact on the word,” says Frazier. “And the two are very related.”
Frazier began at the University in the First Year Program and was exposed to all the different colleges. He believes this experience gives students insight into what each of the colleges offers and what they are about in order to choose a direction for their pursuits. “I had the intent of being an electrical engineer and decided it was not the path for me. I then transferred into CHASS, but I always had my eye on the College of Design,” he comments. “When I was touring or fielding each of the colleges, the College of Design was by far the most appealing to me with its unique atmosphere. Not just the people, but the environment – there is an air of creativity and the people are just great.”
Frazier applied three times and got denied three times, but, by chance, when someone transferred out of the College, he was called and invited to take the spot. “I was in my junior year, and transferring to the College with a possibility of four more years wasn’t the best situation. However, it was worth the chance. I am currently in my 13th semester here at the University,” he states without apprehension. It may have taken a bit longer to acquire a degree that is best suited for him, but this December, Frazier will graduate, and he has already secured a UX Design position with SAS.
In his sophomore year, his determination to take chances provided another opportunity when he was selected for an internship with SAS. Historically, internships with companies such as SAS would have been made available only to incoming juniors and seniors within the College. However, the notice was sent to all design students. Frazier isn’t sure if this was by accident or design. He applied and was the only sophomore among the selected interns. This past year, SAS sent out another call for internships, and Frazier spoke with Professor of Industrial Design and Graphic Design and Head of the Department of Graphic Design Tsai Lu Liu and recommended that the email be sent to all design students so that perhaps an underclassman might also have the opportunity to benefit as he did.
While interning at SAS, Frazier worked on real-world projects that resulted in implementation that has made a difference. One of his first assignments began with research and documentation of wire framing patterns of the UX design team. In the team’s work process, there was a lot of repetition and duplication of efforts. Frazier evaluated the process and built a system of files to help improve proficiency in wire framing. He created assets in digital formats that the team could then drag and drop to speed up their workflow.
More recently, Frazier had the opportunity to evaluate and change the log-on screen and authentication process for SAS employees and customers. You many think this is an easy task, but it’s the ability to provide and deliver a seamless experience for the user while integrating function and design. “You have to think about all the ways someone uses this application, what challenges they may have, what back-end constraints are there, and the project was a rather complex assignment that turned out successful,” Frazier says. “When all SAS employees and customers log-in, they are using my designs, and that’s pretty cool.”
Frazier sees many similarities between his internship with SAS and his student life. He believes the quality of work produced by students in the College is great, and if someone is looking for a challenge or to prove himself, this is the place to be. “The College provides the tools, and you have the opportunity to apply them,” Frazier says. “SAS is also an amazing environment with many challenges and opportunities.” Both environments include collaboration and interaction with others, making sure everyone is on the same page. He sees that both require passion or pride in one’s work. At SAS, he speaks about having “breathing room” for creative freedom from the start of a project. He also believes one of the differentiators at the College is that there is a lot of practice, honing of skills, and repetitive drills. “In the professional world, you use and apply what you learned at school,” Frazier says. The College of Design teaches design thinking in an interdisciplinary environment that makes sense of the world for the benefit of the public. The College integrates practical, ethical, and aesthetic thought and action to enhance the meaning and quality of life through the creation of knowledge informing the critical study of artifacts and places. In the most simplistic of terms, the College teaches, “design for life.”
SAS had provided Frazier with unprecedented personal opportunities to become a better designer and to collaborate with some talented individuals. Having landed such a remarkable position is what he refers to as, “just icing on the cake.” “The facilities are great, the people are remarkable. They are insightful, sharp, and some of the most intelligent folk I’ve ever met. I have learned so much from them, and I am thrilled to be part of the team,” he emphatically states. And many of his peers would probably be just as excited. To already have landed a great position, prior to graduation, is a dream situation for many students. Frazier is among many graduating seniors within the College of Design who have already secured an opportunity for employment.
Professor Liu believes that the Graphic Design programs at NC State have been very successful at preparing the students for not only their first jobs in influential companies or institutions but also in their careers as leading professionals. “I am really excited by all these wonderful opportunities that our students are offered from a wide spectrum of well-respected companies such as IBM, SAS Institute, IDEO, and such. I am sure that the students will excel and make a significant difference in their new roles,” states Liu.
One thing Frazier is certain about is his plan to one day become a mentor. He has benefitted from some great mentors who have influenced him tremendously. “Whether I’m a manager or not, I want to mentor younger individuals and emerging professionals. I don’t want to teach. I want to be a mentor – to be a role model to someone that can make such a huge impact,” he states. Two people that have influenced him are Professor Emerita of Graphic Design Meredith Davis and Assistant Professor Sara Queen. Frazier took Davis’s Graphic Design Theory class and remembers how she inspired him to really think about design. He has taken several courses taught by Queen and reflects on how she instilled confidence in him. “She is so appropriate to new and inexperienced designers. She has a brilliant blend of philosophy for teaching and design. Even her explanation of how to use an exact-o blade was relevant and thoughtful,” he says.
View works from Macklin: