Tamara McCoy
Tamara McCoy
BS in Visualization
Stay-At-Home Parent and Counseling Psychology Graduate Student

Why did you choose the bachelor of science program?

I needed somewhere to go to college because my initial plan fell through. I had a friend that went to MCAD and there was something about being there that just felt right. I got my Viewbook, toured the school, and I was hooked. When I came to MCAD, the bachelor of science program was relatively new. It fit my personal skill set very well. In high school, I was heavily involved with our local DECA chapter and did marketing competitions for fun. I loved the problem solving, but I did not like the stiff, business side of things. I wanted to be creative too! It was like a dream come true to find a place allowed me to not only learn both sides, but have a hands-on approach to doing so.

Favorite project you worked on for a client?

While at MCAD, I did my externship for DesignWorks. We worked with the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics on a website and branding. It was my first digital project. While at Periscope, I loved working on all the projects we did for Great Clips. I got to be part of the process in so many different ways and worked really closely with a core team.

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

Vintage 1987 Boston Marathon sweatshirt. One of my favorite past times is thrifting and vintage hunting, so it was a thrill and a treasured piece in my collection!

Briefly describe at least one of your internships.

As I mentioned, I did my externship for DesignWorks. It was cool being the first bachelor of science/project manager intern there. I loved the small group dynamics, the ability to go on press and see projects through their entirety. The ability to hear the designers discuss their process, to see what happens at the printer and present directly to clients was invaluable when going into a job post-college. It set me apart from many other candidates.

Did MCAD prepare you for life after graduation? In what way?

In so many ways. I don't think I can list them all. I learned how to listen to and give critique and how necessary creativity is every single day. There are two things I will never forget, both of which come from Jerry Allan:

  • "Creativity is connecting two things that have seemingly no connection." 
  • Mindfulness

Additionally, MCAD taught me how to quit. I started the post-baccalaureate certificate in graphic design program and as much as I love graphic design and typography, I knew in my heart my passion wasn't the same as my classmates. That is the creative process—listening to your instincts and not being afraid to try a different angle, color, medium, whatever. It also taught me to never go with your first idea, in a very funny way. I took a project management class and was just horrified by how much I disliked it. I thought to myself, "I will NEVER do this." Well, I spent five years as a project manager and I was really good at it. Don't be scared by the things you think you don't like or that aren't exactly what you pictured. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Name your biggest takeaway from the program.

I like to explain my undergrad major as a "choose-your-own-adventure" program when I get asked about it. I was able to craft this little niche for myself as a project manager that had a good understanding and ability in graphic design/typography. This taught me to not be afraid to carve your own path. Remember, creativity is connecting two things that have seemingly no connection.

What advice do you have for current MCAD students?

Spell check EVERYTHING you put out in the world (resume, website, presentations, etc.).

Your future job WILL have parts of it that aren't fun and aren't creative, but it is necessary. I think that surprises a lot of people that get into advertising.

Work on your presentation skills, even if you don't like public speaking.

Describe what you do for work and how you feel about it.

Right now, I stay home with my three-year-old son, Jonas, and I am in the final leg of my counseling psychology master's program. I will soon be joining MCAD as an intern in the counseling department for the 2019-2020 school year. I absolutely love what I am doing and I am excited for what is ahead. My time working in advertising was fun, hard, and stimulating. However, after some personal challenges, I felt drawn to helping others in a more individualized manner.

How did you get your job? 

I got my job in advertising through a friend. Networking and keeping in touch is so important. My first job out of college was not a good fit and I was completely bummed. After a few months of job searching and doing some PR work for a local playwright/artist, I finally got a job in an agency. I stayed there for just about five years. My current job is a result of being laid off, creating a human, and doing a little soul searching.

What inspires you?

Sunshine. Podcasts. Books. People. Thrifting. Vintage. My son.

How do you feel about the Twin Cities?

I absolutely love the Twin Cities. Granted, the weather could be better, but it is home. I am so proud to live and work here.

Current obsession?