Equipped to Lead and Succeed

On the Cover

Design major Sarah Hamilton '20 landed a role as brand designer at Chronicle Books. Here's how.

by Annie Breen

Why did you choose to major in design at USF?

First and foremost, the city of San Francisco. This city offers an unparalleled blend of food, art, culture, and nature, and from the first time I visited in 2017, I could tell this was a place I would thrive. Being immersed in such an inspiring environment fuels my creativity and expands my perspective, and it’s why I still live here four years after graduating! Additionally, I was excited to be a part of a diverse community of people studying a variety of things that I knew nothing about. And lastly, a big factor in my decision to attend USF was the stellar student/teacher ratio it offers – I knew developing relationships with my professors would be critical to my future success as a designer.

What is one of your favorite memories from the design program?

As part of my Design Activism class, I had the opportunity to partner with the Point Bonita YMCA to create promotional videos for the organization highlighting their work with equity, inclusion, and diversity in the outdoors. We got to do several site visits to Point Bonita to shoot interviews and talk in person with our clients, and our whole design class was invited to do an overnight trip, sleeping in bunk beds – it brought back childhood memories of summer camp and was an experience I’ll always remember.

How'd you end up at your current job?

I ended up at my current job through a series of determined efforts and serendipitous moments. It began when I took a tour of Chronicle Books with my professor and former Chronicle Books Creative Director Michael Carabetta for a Publication Design class. As a lifelong lover of books, the experience sparked my interest, and I decided that this was where I wanted to work. Chronicle offers a year-long fellowship to designers who are beginning their careers, and I was certain I would be selected. But after making it to the final round of interviews, I wasn’t picked. At first I was devastated and I was sure this meant the end of my design career. Eventually I came back to reality, and only three months later a full-time brand designer position opened up, which I applied for and landed. It's been two-and-a-half years now since I joined Chronicle, and looking back, I'm immensely grateful that I didn't give up after facing rejection. I would tell my former self that the right opportunity will come to you at the right time, and that your self worth is not dictated by your job.

What is your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part of my job is my amazing peers. Chronicle is home to many exceptionally creative people, and I am always inspired by the work they do! The office itself is a treasure trove of beautiful books, toys, random art projects, and other wonderful miscellaneous things. And of course, the free books are a nice perk!

What's one of the most interesting projects you've worked on?

The first thing that comes to mind is the wacky stop-motion video I created for the holidays in collaboration with our brand photographer. It was inspired by crafty holiday DIYs, which never seem to turn out as nicely as the pictures look. Shooting this was pretty physically challenging (crouching under a tripod, trying to avoid bumping any props in the shot, being careful not to get my head in the frame…) but the experience was a lot of fun and I love how the video turned out.

Any advice you'd give to an incoming Don considering joining the design program?

From day one, start thinking about your portfolio – how can you leverage the frameworks of your assignments to create projects that showcase your skills to potential clients and employers? The work I made in classes at USF was crucial to landing my current job.