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Fresh Faced Friends: HOW Conference Interview Series

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Navigating your way through the HOW Conference can be particularly overwhelming, especially if it is your first time.  We reached out to our social media friends to learn about three different first timers reactions to the conference.


Part one of our interview series has us introducing you to Emily Carlton, Graphic Designer for Texas A&M University. Read her story here:

Reason for attending HOW:

I signed up when I still lived in Colorado without job prospects. I thought it would be good for networking, inspiration and professional development. Oh, and FOR FUN!

Your first time at HOW Conference can be a little intimidating. Did you attend alone or as part of a group?

A little bit of both. I just started at A&M two weeks ago and hadn’t met any of the other designers yet. (We’re more individual in-house designers partnered with specific colleges and departments rather than a whole) I met two of them for coffee the week before to introduce myself and I did hang out with them a bit during the conference. I also spent time with the designers I used to work with at the University of Northern Colorado. I divided my time between going solo, A&M and UNC.

If your company sponsored you, did you have to sell it to your boss or were they open to you attending?

When I was interviewing for my position at A&M I had already registered and asked that if I were to get the position would my attendance would still be possible, and they said it would be no problem. My supervisor was incredibly supportive of my attendance and was gracious to let me leave after being there for such a short time. I was able to take time off without it counting as vacation and I was also very grateful to receive some professional development money. It was only enough to cover my flights, but even with paying for everything else out-of-pocket this conference was well worth it. You can’t put a price on an experience like that.

What were your first thoughts as you walked through the doors of the Resource Center on Opening Night?

I was joking with the people around me how it was like a designer’s Black Friday (only I don’t think anyone was trampled?). We’re all standing there crammed into this space up against the doors trying to see where the best booths are and how to get there first. I thought it was crazy and great! I was one of the first 75 or so inside and was given a Neenah bag right off the bat, which quickly became my schwag bag.

What was your favorite session/speaker at the conference?

Hard to pick a favorite! I gained a lot from Creating Five-Alarm Concepts with Von Glitschka as someone with just under 2 years experience in the design field.

Did you happen to buy any of the books from the HOW bookstore as a result of hearing a speaker?

I wrote the names down for later. I price checked and although some books were cheap in the bookstore, most were cheaper on Amazon. Sorry! I also didn’t want to mail heavy boxes back.

Did you do anything in Denver outside of attending the conference- any sight-seeing, shopping or partying?  

Not particularly since Colorado has been my playground for the past 20 years. It was nice to go back to some of my favorite restaurants (Crepes’n Crepes, Rialto Cafe) and shops downtown, but I wish I had more time to go to the DAM again. I had a fun time at the White Party, but I’m probably the only designer in the world that can’t stay awake past 10:30pm so I left early (comparatively).

Did you meet anyone interesting or anyone you feel like you will keep in touch with after the conference?

I “met” some people over Twitter beforehand by using the #HOWconf hashtag and then actually met some of them in person at the conference. I also met a lot of great people at the networking reception, even some of the speakers. I was meeting people up until I got off the plane at home. I struck up conversation with some HOWies in the terminal (can’t miss someone with a kern zip-up!) and sat next to someone on the plane I will definitely be collaborating with in the future.

How do you plan to keep your inspiration alive or put information to good use after the HOW Conference?

I’m in a town that isn’t quite on the same page of art appreciation as Colorado, so in addition to lots of internet reading/research and online interactions, I’m planning to spend time discovering and exploring places around me such as Austin. Hopefully I’ll get to go to other places, but I also believe you can be inspired in the most unlikely of places if you have an open mind and the right attitude.

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    Woody Myers said:

    You go, Emily! Good luck in Texas! – Woody