Life in the funnel

Peyton Spangler

Peyton Spangler (Experience Design, 2023)

A former coworker once told me that she felt like her career was a funnel. Starting out wide, she studied many things and had a lot of varying interests. All of which led her down the funnel into one job after another. She knew the end of the funnel contained her dream job, even if she didn’t know what that job would precisely look like. And at any point in time, she couldn’t tell you where in the funnel she was. All she knew was that she was sifting—learning more about herself and getting closer and closer to where she wanted to be.

As a person who has never figured out what she wants to be when she grows up, that analogy really resonated with me.

My background is in architecture, which I chose because I liked math and art. However, as I studied architecture throughout college, I realized that I didn’t love buildings. I found them interesting to some degree, but I wasn’t fangirling over Le Corbusier. I was fascinated by design more generally. Similar to art, design is beautiful, yet it’s also useful. It can influence behavior, shape the way people interact, and solve real problems. Sometimes design takes the form of a building, but what about all the times it looks like something else?

Graduating college, I knew I probably didn’t want to be an architect. I applied to design jobs outside the realm of architecture but mainly encountered rejection and confusion at my degree. I didn’t know what I was qualified for or how to explain to people how my skillset translated outside of the field of architecture. Thus, I eventually just took a job at an architecture firm.

After a year at the firm, I realized I needed to either return to school to become a licensed architect or do something else. As a Richmond native, I had heard about the Brandcenter, but didn’t know much about it. So I came to visit and spoke with a friend who was a current student at the time. I didn’t know anything about advertising or if I even liked advertising, but I loved hearing about what Brandcenter students were getting to learn and do. I saw (through my internet sleuthing) where graduates were going and the careers that were available to them. And I knew this was the next spot in my funnel.

Now, in my second year, I couldn’t be happier with my decision. In some regards, attending the Brandcenter was a career pivot. But I’ve seen the way my architectural background paved the way to this path. I’m still solving problems and visualizing the user interacting with my designs, but the form of my solutions is more varied. And I get to integrate more aspects of myself. What other school would allow me to create a semester-long video project on my hate-love relationship with 7-Eleven?

The Brandcenter has shown me the range of jobs available to me and has given me the skills, knowledge, and language to succeed at them. I still don’t know what the end of my funnel looks like, but the Brandcenter has given me the ability to get there.