Hannah Murray ’13 graduated from the Honors College in spring with dual degrees in computer science and computing in the arts and moved to New York City a shortly after. As the assistant web developer for Time Inc., Murray optimizes parts of the website for interactivity. In her position she uses skills she picked up in her major and by customizing electives.
In the whirlwind final weeks of her senior year, Murray applied for the Time Inc. position online through Time Warner in March, interviewed in April, graduated in May and started work in June.
Q: What sparked your interest in coding?
A: I have always been interested in technology, especially computers, and my degree in Computer Science really introduced me to coding. It was the Computing in the Arts major at the College that helped me realize my interest in graphic design and art as well, so the major allowed me to combine both aspects of Studio Art and Computer science to have more of a package of skills, and to look for jobs in both areas.
I’ve been really interested in user experience and I figured I could impact that as a designer or a web developer. Being a part of the brand and affecting how users interpret it has been exciting.
Q: How did you find out about your current position?
A: I knew I wanted to be in New York because I had spent the last summer here interning for Comedy Central. So I was looking for jobs at large entertainment companies because I enjoyed my experience with Viacom in summer 2012 and figured larger companies would be more likely to consider someone who was willing to relocate from South Carolina since I had prior experience in New York.
I came across the position, which was actually “Associate Web Developer” on the website and applied and heard back a few weeks later to schedule a phone interview. They immediately noticed my beginner level skills with web development, but felt I was a good match so they actually changed the position from Associate to Assistant to meet my experience level.
Q: What do you do in a typical day?
A: I work on the online subscription forms for the Time Inc. publication websites like Time Magazine, People, Entertainment Weekly and InStyle among others. I build out and maintain these forms to ensure that they’re responsive, functional, and easy to use.
In a typical day I’ll receive the subscription form mock up from our promotions team and build from their code to make the form function properly. Certain forms can have up to four different pages to include up-sells, cross-sells, digital login pages, and an e-greeting for people sending subscriptions as gifts. Also, if you look on the People or Entertainment Weekly websites, you can see a small rectangular ad unit at the top. If it mentions subscribing or downloading the magazine or giving it as a gift, chances are my team built it.
We pay close attention to what we think consumers look for when subscribing to our magazines, making sure not to have crazy long forms where people lose interest in filling it out halfway through or get confused. It’s a small part of the overall experience, but an important part because retaining someone’s attention long enough to subscribe is crucial to the magazines. I also work on the ad units on the websites, which typically click through to these subscription forms.
Q: Do you enjoy living in New York City?
A: Yes I love it! I live in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. It’s very different than Charleston and Myrtle Beach where I grew up, so I think my internship in 2012 was a great learning experience as far as what it’s like to live and work here.
Q: What do you think will come next in your career?
A: I am still really interested in design. I love my company and I want to stay as long as I can, but I’d like to incorporate more design into my work, so I’d probably look more for web designer or front end developer positions in the future. Now that I’ve been working in my position for a little more than six months I’m getting more comfortable with web development so I look forward to continually challenging myself with that as well.
Q: What advice would you give to current students interested in web development or moving to a big city?
A: I’d recommend finding web development and web design classes in the Department of Computer Science at the College and taking them as electives. I’d also definitely recommend looking into Code Academy, it’s free and it lets you get as advanced as you want to. For someone interested in design as a whole I’d recommend taking a class at the College like Electronic Publishing & Design and then you can access the computer labs to play around with Adobe programs and familiarize yourself.
For anyone interested in moving to a big city, I would recommend applying for internships in that area. It’s the perfect opportunity to decide if you like working and living in a big city, if only for a few months. I think my summer here gave me an accurate sense of how I’d do living here year-round, so that was an incredibly helpful experience. Not to mention, interning in general helped me prepare for a full-time job and build skillsets that still benefit me today. I think Time Inc. took me more seriously as a candidate when they saw I had interned for a large entertainment company and that I had previously lived in New York.