The #32Under32 awards ceremony is almost here. Colle+McVoy is our Gold sponsor this year. They asked their four finalists—Allyson Sprain, Malek Draoui, Matthew Ulstad (10 Thousand Design) and Tara Niebling (Exponent PR)—to share their top tips and secrets to success in this wild and crazy industry. Read on to learn more!
What’s one thing in your career that you’re most proud of?
Developing and maintaining a strong knowledge of my clients’ businesses. Understanding their specific industries and intricacies has been crucial to effectively anticipate and support their needs. – AS
I’m proud of the opportunity to switch career paths a few years ago and do something completely different. It’s made me a strong believer in change, unafraid of new challenges (big and small) and has shown me how important it is to keep learning. – MD
My work for the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota. Creating meaningful work for a truly meaningful client is the best combination. – MU
Helping to tell the stories of those who don’t have the resources to, or those who otherwise couldn’t. Through my career and volunteer opportunities, I’ve brought attention to obscure causes, organizations I support, and people and communities in need. – TN
What are some of the rock star skills that young people should have in order to succeed in the industry?
Being proactive and visionary. In addition to managing day-to-day projects, you need to know where the work is headed. Keep those long-term goals in mind, because that will help bring forth innovative solutions and new opportunities for advancing client business. – AS
Work hard, be nice, learn and do everything with passion. Even if it’s pulling stock photography for your supervisor, try to exceed expectations, because the next time they’re going to trust you with more and more. – MD
Learning how to learn is vital. Know how to ask questions and don’t assume someone else will take initiative. Don’t hide your personality. – MU
The ability to speak up and to write a banger of a thank you note. – TN
What’s the biggest challenge you face as a young person in the industry?
Confidence. It can be challenging to advocate for your own ideas when senior team members don’t see eye-to-eye with you. It’s easy to back down when an idea doesn’t immediately get traction, but it’s important to trust your own experience and knowledge and share that understanding with your team. – AS
I’m in a fortunate place where I don’t really face challenges attributed to my age or years of experience. I have the trust of so many people around me that sometimes I’m still in shock of the experiences and opportunities I’m having at this stage in my career. – MD
Advocating for process change in a traditional industry. When it comes to design, the root of what we do is actually pretty timeless, but the forms that it takes are constantly evolving. Learning how to make your voice heard is key. – MU
As a young person (so flattering, by the way), finding time to pursue passion projects and volunteer opportunities is challenging. I deeply admire people who invest precious free time into something that matters, versus binge-watching the Great British Baking Show. – TN
What’s one thing you wish you knew before your first job?
Track your time. Just do it. I didn’t realize how valuable my time was until I had to monitor how it was spent. – AS
Your personal interests can probably be used in some sort of career out in the world. Find them and go for it. – MD
Designers don’t “just design.” To design effectively is to also to write, project manage and speak publicly. And that’s awesome. Embrace it. – MU
Look for a job at a company you love, instead of a job you think you love at any old company. – TN
Finally…what’s one thing that most people don’t already know about you?
I love trivia and participate in a weekly pub trivia league. – AS
I lived in Tunisia for four years when I was younger. When I was there, I forgot how to speak English, then came back to the U.S. and had to learn it all over again. – MD
I’ve never experienced a breakup, thereby rendering half of all songs emotionally useless to me. – MU
I was a ski patroller for one winter season. I didn’t save any lives, but did direct plenty of people to the restroom. – TN