Mikaela Albright

Credentials: Crowell & Moring

Position title: Graphic Design & Branding Specialist

Photo of Mikaela Albright

Major: Art (emphasis in Graphic Design)

Certificate: Digital Studies & Entrepreneurship

Graduation Date: May 2016

How did you end up at Crowell & Moring?

After graduating from UW in the spring of 2016 I moved to the Twin Cities for an internship. I always knew I wanted to live in the cities after graduating and there were so many opportunities available for designers there due to the plethora of Fortune 500 companies. After I finished the internship, I was hired by UnitedHealth Group,which was truly an amazing place to start my career. Working on the marketing team allowed me to wear many hats. Not only was I designing the marketing collateral, but I was also in annual planning meetings, on site helping with photo shoots, in calls developing global campaign concepts and more.

In the summer of 2019, I moved to Washington, D.C. and continued working for UHG fully remote until I decided to pursue other opportunities in the spring of 2020. Right as the pandemic hit in full swing in the US, I started a job at Porter Novelli’s D.C. office. I was drawn to continuing to work for a global company but wanted to see what the agency life was like and gain a wider breadth of experience. While there, I worked on projects for a variety of different industries including public health, government, pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, and environmental conservation. The CDC was one of my biggest clients for 2020 and as you might imagine, that kept me pretty busy!

I recently left Porter Novelli this winter for an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up at Crowell & Moring. We have some very exciting projects in the works that will be announced later this year. In the meantime, I have really enjoyed transitioning into this role and continuing my work on a global scale.

What does a typical day in the office look like for you?

I recently started a new position at Crowell & Moring so I don’t have the best idea of what my  day-to-day will be like long term. Some projects that I have been working on so far are creating ads, sell sheets, digital graphics (for social, web, and email), event collateral, presentations, and annual reports. We have a couple of large and very exciting projects that I will be starting on within the next couple of months that will occupy a large amount of my time and alter my current day-to-day work load for the foreseeable future.

How has Digital Studies influenced your career path?

I think the Digital Studies Program helped make me a more well rounded designer. It was important for me to see how my designs could be utilized in the real world and offered me more life-like experiences than my design classes did, such as working for real and theoretical clients, conducting market research, creating campaigns, pitching ideas, and more.

Did you have a favorite Digital Studies class?

Don Stanley’s class was the best and I always learned a lot from his guest speakers as well. One of the speakers was Nate Moll, a social media specialist at UW and while social media isn’t always related to design, I gained more knowledge about the field and how design is often used. To this day, social media marketing/advertising campaigns and initiatives along with company rebrands are some of my favorite projects and I think that stems largely from not only Professor Stanley’s class but from my Digital Studies experience as a whole.

Do you have any advice for current students?

Try your best to have a good balance on the three S’s of college: Study, Socialize, and Sleep (frankly, your physical and mental wellbeing as a whole). You’re at Madison so obviously I don’t have to tell you that good grades are important, but it’s not what the entire experience is about. Honestly, I think I have only been asked for my GPA on a couple of job applications since graduating.

Networking is extremely important and something I wish I would have done even more of during my time at UW. Force yourself to find events – they aren’t always going to present themselves to you. When you’re at those events, get out of your comfort zone and have quality conversations with people. It might even be a good idea to go by yourself to see what it will be like in the real world at a new job, a conference, or something where you don’t know anybody.

Lastly, make time for yourself to get adequate sleep, eat healthier, workout, and find healthy ways to help you unwind. Don’t forget to get some fresh air at the terrace, enjoy the occasional basket of cheese curds and Babcock ice cream while watching those beautiful sunsets over the lake! Also, if possible, get off campus and experience what else Madison has to offer. Try volunteering in the community (not associated with a student organization, just on your own), go to the farmer’s market, check out the other lakes, etc. Madison is such a unique place and odds are you won’t live there forever so soak it up while you can.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career thus far?

I am most proud of creating the first ever UnitedHealth Group Snapchat lens for Pride month in 2019. I saw the project from pitch through completion. I conducted market research to ensure the lens followed both platform and design best practices while also taking note of other Fortune 100 companies successful campaigns to see how they implemented their branding within the lens. I then led the pitch to senior leadership and was given the opportunity to create a pilot in two test markets. Once I gained approval, I taught myself how to use the unique software that Snapchat uses to create lenses, ran testing, and worked with a representative from the company to get the lens up and running in time for Pride. The lens performed remarkably well, surpassing both industry benchmarks and metrics from our previous campaigns where we used Snapchat filters.