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5 in 5! with Kelli, Creative Director at LuxeYard

July 12, 2012 logoLuxeYard (@LuxeYard) is a members-only flash sale site for luxury home furnishings, decor and fashion that offers access to unique products sourced by a seasoned team of buyers at a fraction of retail prices. Learn about their internships.

Kelli McDonald is the Creative Director for A graduate of the University of Southern California, Kelli has worked in digital media and design for over a decade. From art direction, copy writing, design, branding expertise, front end programming, social media strategy and marketing, Kelli’s previous clients have included well-known institutions such as Honda, The State of California, The Kellogg Company and the global billion dollar firm of ValleyCrest Companies. Over the course of her career, she has produced photo shoots, web sites, events, public relations initiatives and advertising campaigns totaling in the millions.

1. How did you get started in the industry?

Kelli McDonald, LuxeYard Creative Director

Kelli McDonald, Creative Director

I got my start as a graphic designer for one of the largest public relations firm in Los Angeles. We had a staff of about 120 people and countless clients, and I was the sole designer. It was a challenging job but I learned so much about marketing, art direction and design, public relations, writing, advertising, campaign development, client management and project management. The experiences I gained from working on so many aspects of a client’s account really helped me get to where I am now a lot quicker than if I’d worked in a slower paced environment.

2. How can someone who is interested in your work get started?

Employers nowadays value a multitude of skillsets rather than specialization in one area. They want to know they you’re adaptable and willing to whatever it takes to get the job done well. I would recommend getting exposure to as many areas of marketing, design, PR, social media, internet marketing etc. as possible, even if it’s not your area of expertise or outside of your comfort zone. It not only demonstrates your willingness to go above and beyond, but creates an added value to your resume that can help set you apart from other candidates. And learn a programming language such as HTML if you can. That small skill on its own can mean the difference of thousands of dollars more when you negotiate for your salary.

3. What’s the future of your industry or job?

E-commerce is constantly changing, as is the fashion and design world. Our industry incorporates so many different components: social media, programming, style, design…you name it. The time where high-end style directly meets with computers is here and one cannot exist without the other these days. Brick and mortar retail stores are still important but simultaneously will have a difficult time succeeding without pursuing an e-commerce component to their business. Everything is so integrated right now and will be even more so the more that social media becomes monetized. It goes back to my point earlier that exposure to as many different components as possible will help you get an edge in your application process.

4. What do you look for when you hire an intern or entry-level candidate?

I look for someone who is genuinely enthusiastic about being part of something bigger than they are and who wants to learn new things. I’ll give an intern or new hire as much as they want to handle without overloading them and setting them up for failure. Remember, I want you to succeed. I couldn’t have gotten where I am without my mentors and people that took an interest in me but I also made sure that I didn’t let them down and did everything I could to make the relationship work. I am still very close friends with the people that helped me on my path to success. The worst thing you could do would be to take an internship out of obligation to fulfill a class requirement: your lack of passion for the job will show and you’ll ultimately end up wasting both your time and the company’s time.

5. What is one thing an intern can do to make a favorable impression?

Speak up. You’d be honestly be surprised at the amount of interns I have seen that are scared to vocalize their opinions or new ideas for fear of…what? I don’t know. If you think you have a better way of doing it, I want to hear it. I want to know that you’re looking around and seeing things and forming your own opinions. Don’t settle into a routine just because that’s the way it’s always been done before. You’re not here to fetch coffee or run errands (though sometimes that might be part of the process!), you’re here to help make things more efficient, bring new ideas and a fresh perspective to the table. Every employee’s opinion counts—even our interns’!

Thank you Kelli for the excellent advice! Interns, do you have any questions for Kelli? Leave ’em in the comments below, and check out LuxeYard internships.

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