Meet Our Intern: Sarah McLean

As a local design professional and alum of Maine College of Art, I am delighted to be a regular guest at design critiques and reviews. When we decided to start bringing paid interns to Might & Main, I knew exactly where to look. 

I talked to design faculty at MECA and kept my eyes peeled at the junior / senior mid term reviews. Here at Might & Main, we tend to lead with our typography, so I was really looking out for someone with a great sense of composition and scale, a good grasp of writing, and a strong typographic eye. There was a lot of killer design on the walls that day, but Sarah’s work really fit the bill, and was quite impressive, especially as a junior. She’s doing great work here, and I would highly recommend looking to MECA for well trained design interns. 

– Sean

What drew you to the field of graphic design? Did you consider any other areas of study?

I've been interested in graphic design since I was a sophomore in high school. I actually took an entry-level class at the community college in my hometown that year and fell in love with the things I could do with the computer programs. I think what most drew me to graphic design was the power of being given a problem to solve. I realized that I'm most creative once I've been handed something that needs fixing. Honestly, I haven't considered another area of study since about age nine when I still wanted to be an astronaut-veterinarian.

What attracted you to MECA and to Portland? What about to an internship at Might & Main?

MECA was actually my second art school. I transferred there from Ringling College of Art + Design my sophomore year. I found that MECA had a really developed community. Being in the heart of downtown Portland makes it really great to be a student, and MECA's graphic design program definitely seemed to link up with what I had already learned at Ringling. I've been able to build up my portfolio a lot with the combination of school and my internship and it's been a really exciting process of creating a body of work to share and promote myself with. I was thrilled when I got the chance to apply for the internship here at Might & Main. I was looking for an opportunity to get hands-on experience and work with talented graphic designers, and so far, that's exactly what it's been. I'm really happy that I've been so able to incorporate what I've learned at MECA into the work at Might & Main.

Sarah's work as a student at MECA

Sarah's work as a student at MECA

As a junior, do you feel like you're starting to figure out what you want to be when you grow up? What's your ideal career path look like?

I do think I'm starting to discover what I'd like to do as I get older. Being in school and coming to my internship in the city of Portland has been an incredible time, and what I've learned about the work here definitely interests me. The work I've done at Might & Main is definitely my ideal starting path for the work I hope to do when I graduate. I hope to accumulate similar experiences and continue to grow from what I learn, and eventually create my own place in the graphic design world.

Sarah hanging around at MECA

Sarah hanging around at MECA

What inspires you when you're running dry on ideas?

If I'm out of ideas, sometimes it takes me an entire day and night of thinking and pondering and procrastination before I strike gold. But more often than not, I pop on a TED Talk and some kind of innovative idea will spark something in me. Also, never underestimate the power of a coffee break.

How does the internship experience compare with your expectations? Anything you've been surprised to learn?

Actually, this experience has completely exceeded my expectations. I had no idea I'd get to actually meet clients and sit-in on meetings and conference calls. Being exposed to those parts of the design process has taught me so much about my career path and has really helped me understand how real-life graphic design works. Also, I never thought that my own work as an intern would actually make it to the production end of the process, but I've been lucky enough to see my own designs up online, and that's a really rewarding feeling, no matter how large or small scale the work is.

We're really focused on process at Might & Main–from research through concepts through execution through follow-up. What's your favorite part of the design process? Least favorite?

My favorite part of the design process is probably the execution aspect of it. I like when all the hard work of research and concept development begins to come together and you can start to see what the work has potential of becoming. I don't really have a least favorite part of the design process, but I do tend to jump the gun during the research stage. I know the importance of collecting as many ideas as possible and as early as possible, but sometimes I get so excited about actually starting the project that I cut research short. I'm still working on that.

Any words of advice for future interns at Might & Main or elsewhere?

My best advice for Might & Main's next intern is to know the value of time management and organization. I definitely owe some appreciation to my obsessive folder labeling and organizing. When you're juggling art school, an internship and a weekend job, it pays to know where every last file lives, and to always have backups.