Noah Miwa
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BFA in Advertising
2008
Senior User Experience Designer at Optum; Entrepreneur

In a couple sentences, describe what you do for work and how you feel about it.

I am a senior user experience designer at Optum and I love it because I'm able to design great experiences for our consumers drawing from my personal background and my background in healthcare. I'm also an entrepreneur and my latest startup, Belly Up!, keeps me engaged in the local craft beer and cocktail community.

How did you get your job? 

A recruiter reached out to me for a position at Optum and it was a good fit for my skill set. My broad experience and portfolio helped me stand out. 

What was your major and how did you choose it? Was it the right choice?

Advertising. I chose the field after being in fine arts illustration at the now-closed College of Visual Arts in St. Paul. After our annual trip to New York City, I turned to my wife on the plane and told her I want to get into advertising. I'm so happy I had the experiences I had in the field; I've made lifelong friends and have been able to apply my experiences to my businesses and the knowledge to my current job. 

Who was your favorite teacher and why?

Jerry Allan. He has been a mentor and he taught me a different way of thinking. I have been able to apply his teachings throughout my career. 

Tell us about your internship.

I interned with the International Wolf Center and worked with their development director to create several campaigns and fundraising materials. I applied my design and marketing skills to help them raise more money than in previous years. 

Best thing you ever got/saw on the free shelf?

Pair of Nikes.

Name your one biggest takeaway from MCAD?

Concept is king. 

What inspires you/your work?

Making an impact with the work I do. If I can look back and see that I've helped bring the people I work with and the company I work for forward, then I feel that I've accomplished something. 

Has your work evolved since leaving MCAD? How so?

Yes. I was strictly in advertising as a designer/art director. But the advertising landscape has changed dramatically since I graduated. I also wasn't as fulfilled in doing work for an ad agency as I am in other roles. I started in print media and had to quickly learn digital and all that goes with it. I've learned to apply my skills and depth of business knowledge in other ways and have been fortunate to learn as I go.

What advice do you have for current MCAD students?

Follow your heart and passions. What brought you to art school is what will stay with you forever. Plan all you want, but life takes many paths. 

How do you network yourself and your art?

Behance, Instagram, Dribbble, LinkedIn.

Do the Twin Cities offer many opportunities for creatives?

Yes, the best way is to network, be a nice person and work hard. 

Current obsession?

Stranger Things