Back in May of 2020 my company interviewed me and several other of my female colleagues for Women in Tech month. You can check out the interview below!

We are celebrating uTest’s 5th annual Women in Tech Month with a series of special spotlight interviews with Applause employees and uTest community members throughout the month of May!

Today we are proud to introduce you to Karley Searles, Interactive Designer and important member of the Applause Marketing’s Creative Services team since February 2018. Karley’s creative touches have been making more appearances around lately – from graphic buttons and banners to fresh email templates! So, let’s learn a bit more about her.

Hello Karley! Tell us about where you are from.
I am from Hudson, MA, a small town not too far away from Applause HQ.

Where did you attend school, and what did you study?
I have a BFA in Graphic Design from UMass Dartmouth (also a minor in Art History)!

Tell us a bit about your current role with Applause and the career path that led you here.
I am an interactive designer for Applause where I support the creative needs of the marketing department. I create assets from printed material to social posts, landing pages, email templates, branding and more. Previously I worked for Staples, Inc. in their internal design agency. Prior to that, I was working for a very small e-commerce company that sold pet-related giftware.

I was interested in working for Applause because I wanted to work in the tech industry. Moreover, I think the work that Applause and uTest does is innovative, exciting and important – and being a part of it is awesome.

Have you ever struggled with impostor syndrome? If so, how did you overcome it?
Yes, I have. The creative process can be quite a roller coaster – there’s a lot of back and forth critique that tends to make me second-guess myself and wonder if my work is really good enough. I think it’s important to be open to criticism and to understand that everyone has a different perspective and way of interpreting creative work. Don’t take negative feedback personally.

What is the most important training that you’ve ever received? Why was it so valuable?
Over the last year, I’ve been learning about accessibility in design. It's important for us to put out designs that are accessible for all, especially because accessibility testing is a large part of what we do! I didn’t think about accessibility too much before I worked here and will now use what I’ve learned in my career going forward.

Has there been a pivotal moment in your career to date?
I think working in an agency environment at Staples was huge. I worked with a lot of great designers, creative directors, copywriters and project managers who I learned so much from in the short 3 years that I worked there.

Who has been your most impactful mentor or inspiration, whether personally or professionally?
My parents – they embraced my creative side when I was a child, and when I decided to study graphic design in college they were incredibly supportive. I always go to them for advice and they’ve guided me through a lot of choices that I’ve made to help me get to where I am today.

Is there a professional skill you’d like to master? And if so, could you share your plan for tackling it?
Some skills that specifically come to mind are to improve my presentation skills, become better and more comfortable with video editing, and to learn more about user experience. I get opportunities to practice each at Applause, which is awesome!

When it comes to your career, what achievement are you most proud of?
I think that just being able to get a job in the creative field alone has been an achievement for me. There were many times when I doubted myself especially when I first graduated from college. I’m so thankful that I can do what I love every day!

What are some changes that you’ve seen within your field in the last few years?
There are so many different devices and screen resolutions to design for these days. I’ve realized how important it is to understand the user’s journey through different media channels and devices.

Is there a particular designer whose work you follow or admire?
Jessica Hische – she is more of an illustrator and hand letterer, but I adore her work!

What do you think is the best way to approach or set a goal?
I usually make a checklist of smaller tasks or goals that’ll help me achieve a larger goal in my sketchbook. Checking off a task is so satisfying!

Can you share with us a goal that you recently achieved?
One professional goal I’ve had was to work on my video editing skills. I’ve edited video footage here and there but never regularly. We’ve increased our webinar production in the last few months so I’ve gotten really comfortable with video editing now. I still want to learn more and get into motion graphics, but I feel like I’m on the right track!

If you could spend all day doing one non-work hobby, what would it be and why?
I would spend the day trying to learn a new song on piano – I took lessons as a kid but haven’t played much at all in the last decade or so. I’m definitely a little rusty.

Do you have a book that you’d recommend?
Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kelon – it’s a short and sweet book full of tips on how to unlock your creativity.

What are some small things that make your day better?
Spending time with my dog, a mid-day iced coffee, and listening to some music!

What could you give a 40-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?
I could probably spend a good 40 minutes talking about typography fundamentals.

Give us your hot take  : What is your favorite font type and which font type needs to be retired immediately and never used again?
Avenir is a nice clean geometric sans serif that I’ve been into for a while now – I love the clean look. I absolutely loathe Papyrus – it almost gives me physical pain to see major brands use it.

(We would have sworn you were going to say Comic Sans.) What’s your favorite design project that you’ve worked on so far at Applause?
A fun little project I recently did was an Applause sock design.

Where is your favorite place in the world?
Tumbledown Mountain in Weld, Maine. I found the mountain by accident a few years ago when I was looking for hikes to do. It’s about a 2-hour hike to the top where you’re met with a beautiful pond and an amazing view of the surrounding mountains.

What’s the “geekiest” thing you’ve ever done?
My roommate from college and I are obsessed with a sculpture series called Bird in Space by Constantin Brancusi. Together we’ve traveled to museums in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York City to see Brancusi’s work. We’re art nerds!

Could you give us three random facts about yourself?

  • I worked part-time as a librarian for 14 years in my hometown.
  • Two-thirds of my college coursework were fine art classes. I took classes like sculpting, figure drawing, and bookbinding. Instead of textbooks I had to buy art supplies!
  • The only country that I’ve traveled to outside of US/Canada/Mexico is Russia to visit one of my best friends who was an exchange student at my high school. I hope to see more of the world in the future!