Featured Alum! Jess Paley
Where are you currently working? (location & company)
EY Design Studio PHL, Philadelphia, PA
What are you currently working on?
Digital transformation for a global pharmaceutical manufacturing brand
What’s your favorite recent project?
I’ve been on the above project since starting with EY (project grew in scale after COVID because of the client & their direct involvement in the pandemic). This project has been so rewarding and challenging. While it’s been slightly draining to be on the same project for a year, the work our team is doing is so impactful and important to the client and it’s been special to see our work make an impact.
How has your job changed with COVID?
We’ve been fully remote since March, and I’ve been working for this company longer remotely than I have in the studio! We’re not able to collaborate like before and I really miss the daily back and forth you would get being in person in the office. Because of COVID, working hours are definitely a more fluid concept now. My client has a lot of international colleagues, so hopping online early or staying online late is a more frequent occurrence than I like to admit. While I’m privileged to have a nice home office setup, I really miss the gorgeous studio space in Manayunk! It’s such an incredible place to work.
What was your favorite KUCD project? What class did you make it in?
That’s tough! But I think the magazine project from Graphics 2 was my favorite. It definitely didn’t start out that way, that class was a beast. However, I’m super happy with the way the final magazine turned out & I ended up using the magazine as a base for some interactive components that ended up in the senior show. It turned into a really well-rounded project.
How did your decision to attend KUCD affect the trajectory of your career?
Choosing KUCD was monumental to the career path and the places it has taken me so far! KUCD teaches you such strong fundamentals for design that it really set me up for anything I’ve been thrown since graduating. Without KUCD I probably would not have had the opportunity to work in the places I have so far, since they were both directly due to connections from the KUCD program and its alumni.
What advice would you give your high school self about choosing a college?
Do what feels right in your gut & don’t let other people’s expectations or remarks keep you from searching for that perfect fit. Also, sometimes those big name schools sounds more exciting and cost more money but don’t actually provide a superior education in the field you want to pursue. Do your own digging and find the best fit for you, regardless of where your friends & family think you should choose.
What is the best part of KUCD?
The professors & students in this program are absolutely the best people, who I greatly admire. The professors consistently push you to do your best and genuinely care about you and your work. I have friendships from the program, both with professors and students, that have greatly impacted me as both a designer and a person.
Any advice for current KUCD students?
Take care of your mental health!! All nighters and stress comes with the program, but don’t let school get in the way of you being a healthy and happy person. I personally struggled with my mental health during my junior and senior years and if I was as kind to myself then as I am now, I would have felt a lot better and probably would have created higher quality work!