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FIDM Graduate Krislam Chin poses on the red carpet at the Oscars

Grad is Creative Manager at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Krislam Chin, who hails from Los Angeles, first heard about FIDM while attending Colony High School. “A representative from FIDM came into my Graphic Design III class and spoke about the design program over at FIDM,” she explained. “I was immediately hooked because of all the classes they offered and their connections in the industry.” After receiving an A.A. in Graphic Design from FIDM in 2011, Krislam spent seven years in the design industry before deciding to return to the college to get a B.S. in Business Management. Her career experience includes being lead designer at the Hypothesis Group, senior graphic designer of internal communications at TechStyle Fashion Group (formerly JustFab), and running a successful freelance business. Today, she’s the creative manager at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences — best known for its Academy Awards — and is in the Master of Science in Integrated Design, Business, and Technology program at USC's Iovine and Young Academy. We caught up with Krislam to learn more about her journey to FIDM, career in the industry, and her ultimate goals.

How did you become interested in studying Graphic Design? When I was younger, you'd always find me playing with Photoshop 7.0, creating my newest MySpace layout. I really enjoyed designing the graphics and wanted to learn more. I enrolled in graphic design as an elective when I was a sophomore in high school, and from there, my love for graphic design was taken to a whole new level. In that class with my favorite teacher (who I still talk to), Mr. Michael Dahms, I learned that graphic design was something I could build my career in. He supported me through all my elective classes and was always available for advice even after graduating high school. 

What led you to continue in the Business Management program? By the time I decided to go back and get my Business Management degree, I had already spent seven years in the design industry. I knew I wanted to go back for something else to make myself more well-rounded. I found an interest in business when I worked with several executives on their pitch decks. I fell in love with creating presentations and enjoyed marrying storytelling with design and business. However, I had always seen words like "OPEX, EBITDA, Asset, Cash Flow, etc." and sort of knew what those words meant. Still, I knew that if I wanted to expand on my presentation design/strategy business, I'd have to learn more about business. I reviewed the Business Management curriculum at FIDM and knew that was the program for me.

Can you summarize your professional career since graduating from FIDM? Just two months after I graduated from FIDM, I got a job at a market research firm called Hypothesis in DTLA. Before I graduated, my portfolio was selected to be a part of an industry review panel hosted by FIDM. That's where the folks at Hypothesis (and other prominent industry leaders) found me. I have always been thankful to FIDM for having to jump-start my career. I spent a little over two years at Hypothesis before I moved to TechStyle. 

I began my career at TechStyle Fashion Group back when it was still called JustFab Inc. I was a jr. graphic designer for the JustFab marketing team, creating digital marketing assets for their e-commerce platform. After two years, I expanded my role. I moved to the People Team (Human Resources) as a senior graphic designer, global internal communications. It was really in that role that I learned so much about interpersonal/EQ skills that really changed my life and career for the better. 

In terms of my own business, I began freelancing the moment I graduated. I believe it's essential to diversify your revenue stream and always have a side hustle, no matter how small or big. It's a great way to expand your skills and meet new people. In 2017, I took a significant leap of faith and began freelancing full-time. It was the most challenging but exhilarating two years of my life and career. I learned so much in those two years than I had total in all my years in the industry. I'm thankful that I created that space for myself to grow. 

How did FIDM help prepare you for your career? FIDM had a studio-like environment where we were very hands-on and treated as professionals. I remember the courses being very rigorous and pushing us to create work ready for the industry. 

What are your responsibilities as a creative manager at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences? I'm celebrating two years with them this September and headed into my third award season. AMPAS has events all year round surrounding the Oscars. My role during that time is supporting and leading the creative initiatives. These events include The Student Academy Awards, The Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, Scientific and Technical Awards, the GOLD Rising Summer Internship, and more. During Oscar season, I manage all printed and digital assets for the show, ensuring that everything is aligned with our brand and makes it to the finish line. 

Tell us about your current program at USC and what led you to continue with your education there. I'm in the Master of Science in Integrated Design, Business, and Technology program at USC's Iovine and Young Academy. I always dreamt of pursuing higher education, and this program perfectly marries both of my degrees. My ultimate career goal is to become a professor.

What are your ultimate career goals? Becoming a professor and expanding my design business. 

Anything else you'd like to share? It goes without saying, and it sounds a little cliché, but network, network, network! 

Learn more online at krislamchin.com.

Categories:  Business Management Graphic Design Alumni