Profiles with Ivy Yu
As you may or may not know, the CompletEats team is a small female-owned company based in San Francisco. We've spent most of this year highlighting some amazing women, but I think it's time to introduce you to the team. First up: our graphic design intern, Ivy Yu!
CE: Hi Ivy! So let’s get the intro stuff out of the way early so we can get to know you a bit more. I hear you just graduated from college. First of all, congratulations! That’s a huge accomplishment. Where did you go to school and what’s your degree?
Ivy: Thank you! I graduated three months ago from the Academy of Art University, with a Web Design & New Media Master of Arts degree.
CE: How did you find this opportunity? Internships are pretty hard to find nowadays.
Ivy: I agree. I definitely feel the competition among new graduates. A lot of the bigger companies that we would love to get our foot into are not always looking for junior-level designers. So when I started looking for internship opportunities last year, I applied to big and small companies alike. One tool I really like to use that my peers sometimes overlooked is my university’s job board. While job hunting, I found this 10-people venture capital firm called 137 Ventures in need of a refreshed look for their website, which is my specialty in graphic design. After two rounds of interviews, I got an offer and started working for them in the summer.
You’re probably like, “So, what does all that have to do with CompletEats?” (Wait for it, it’s coming, I promise.) A few weeks into my internship, the founder of 137 Ventures asked me if I could also work for his wife on redesigning her business website.That person was Lauren, the founder of CompletEats! That’s when I started working for her as a design intern on our new website, social media assets, and sometimes on print materials. The power of connections—you never know if your next job is one referral away.
CE: Let’s go back to the beginning. How did you start as a graphic designer?
Ivy: I’ve always been a more visual person. My ideas come to me in a more visual form than most and I’m also a visual learner. But by the time I started college, I still didn’t know how to utilize this trait as an advantage in pursuing a career. Four years later, I graduated from college with a business administration degree, which at the time seemed to me and my family a more general, and safer choice for landing a job after school. But business is such a big umbrella term–was I interested in finance? Marketing? Maybe accounting? The answer turned out to be none of them. I didn’t have passion in any of those subjects. Along the way, I thought to myself, “There must be a better way. I need to find something that I’m actually interested in, something I have a talent for but also challenging at the same time.”
And then comes in the school flyer. Yup, back when I was still in college, I learned about a new minor program offered at our school called Digital Studies. So besides Business Presentation class and Business Operation 101, I also learned how to do a bit of video editing, web coding, how to use Adobe Suites from this minor program I ended up taking on a whim.
Sounds like I was finally off to a good start, I know, but the training was far from enough to land me a designer job. After briefly working as an executive assistant, and a lot of thinking, researching and late-night talks with my family and my boyfriend, I went back to school. This time for a degree in design, which I turned out to like a lot more, and feel more fulfilling with the work I’m doing.
"The power of connections—you never know if your next job is one referral away. "
CE: Sounds like you found the right path for you. Can you tell us what inspires you and what makes you want to rip out your hair when it comes to your profession?
Ivy: My peers really inspire me in many different ways. One friend of mine makes beautiful, beautiful designs, and she pays attention to the smallest details. After looking at her work, I’m always like, “Wow, got to push myself harder!” A few of my classmates are moms of little children, and they still manage to come early, take good notes, and hand in their best work.
Some of my teachers are great inspirations to me as well. My final portfolio instructor works full time as a senior UX designer while teaching three separate three-hour-long classes every week. I’ve always been amazed by how energetic she was every time she walked into the class. Speaking of multitasking, my web coding teacher is also a master at it. Aside from specializing in web coding, he uses his free time to write blog posts, make his own web-based tools and mini-games, learn to 3-D print, and to draw. Last year, he even published a book of his portrait illustrations. He really makes me think of how I should better use my time.
What makes me want to pull my hair out? Hmm. Well, hopefully, this doesn’t offend anyone, but I have to say it’s when I have to convert my final designs to commonly used formats, a.k.a Microsoft Word/Doc/PowerPoint. And when I say convert, it means to first have an Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop file export to PDF, and then PDF to Word Doc. And who knows, in the limbo of that conversion world, perfectly good images get squashed, elements get misplaced, types flying all around, and the page size don’t end up right… Gahhhhh… It’s kind of like how you spend hours putting on delicate makeup, ready to present to the world, and all of a sudden your makeup gets destroyed by pouring rain. At this point, you really have no one to blame and you have to do everything from scratch again.
CE: Wow, that sounds like a nightmare. But I’m curious about your process as a graphic designer, mainly because it utilizes both technical skills and endless visual creativity to convey a message to consumers. How do you balance those two aspects of your job?
Ivy: That’s a great question. There’re a lot of different kinds of designers. Some work with more traditional media, like printing and packaging. Some are more illustration focused, and some work more with and for the screens, etc. I have to be honest, I don’t even draw that well. From the very beginning, it was technology that helped bring my visual creativity alive. It was through Adobe Illustrator that my wobbly sketches became a real business logo that someone would actually use. So yeah, I wouldn’t necessarily say that I need to balance the technology aspect and the creative aspect when I work, but more like having and perfecting these technical skills is an essential part of me growing as a visual designer.
The same goes for learning front-end web coding—once I have enough knowledge of what coding can do and how far it can go, I can better shape my design to cater to its capabilities as well as limitations.
CE: Let’s shift over to the good stuff: the food! What’s your favorite way to eat a CompletEats cookie? Do you have a favorite flavor?
I like to eat a CompletEats cookie just on its own. It’s flavorful and filling enough to be the only thing I eat for breakfast, especially when I run late to class. I also eat it as an afternoon snack just one small chunk at a time. Keeps me from getting hungry while on the go.
Currently, my favorite flavor is the Mocha Chip. I love its hint of coffee flavor, which goes perfectly with the sweetness of the chocolate chips.
CE: Other than drinking a bunch of coffee, do you have any advice for college students or new college grads looking for internships and new opportunities?
Ivy: Well, I’m still figuring things myself. But one thing I noticed from my peers, is that some of them tend to talk themselves down when facing potential work/learning opportunities. For example, “This job requires a minimum of three years of experience. I’m not qualified.”Or “It’s an internship in the food industry, but I know nothing about it! They will never hire me.” True, as a new grad, we may not have the most experience or mastered all the skills required by certain industries, but the least we want to do is to discourage ourselves from taking actions. It won’t hurt applying for a job that requires three-year experience but otherwise a great fit. It may be a long shot, but at least you tried, and by trying, you increase your chance to a dream job, even by just a little. If you don’t go for it, nothing would happen. You simply missed out. The same goes with certain skill sets you don’t acquire or not familiar with. If it’s not rocket science to you, say you’re open to learning on the job if necessary and actually do learn it.
CE: Do you have a website/social media pages that we can shout-out for future work?
Ivy: Yes, thanks for asking. My personal website is ivyyu.me. You can find my past works and all the contact info there.
CE: Awesome!Thanks so much for speaking with me and best of luck! We are really excited to see how you’ll grow from this experience.