Alumna’s Career Takes a Turn After Graduation

Autumn Hauer graduated from Michigan State University in 2015 with an Apparel, Textile, and Design degree. She recently was promoted to Project Manager at Sugarpill Cosmetics in Los Angeles, California. Previously, she had worked as the company’s Brand and Social Media Manager. We recently caught up with Hauer and asked her about her new position and the career path that led her there.

What does a typical work day look like for you?

I’ve been in this role as Project Manager for Sugarpill Cosmetics for about a month, so I’m still trying to get my footing. A typical day for me includes going through tasks that need to be completed and assigning them, overseeing projects we have coming up in the upcoming weeks and months, and making sure everyone in the office is on time with their tasks.

How did you get to where you are now career-wise?

I was in the fashion design program at MSU and I thought the next step for me after graduation was to go to New York City just because that’s what everyone was doing and New York City is the hub in the United States for fashion. I ended up coming out to Los Angeles for the first time to work on a short film where I was doing costuming and makeup. It was just supposed to be a quick, fun summer job before I moved to New York. When I came [to LA], I realized that New York didn’t really fit me, and on the other hand, LA did. I felt very at home in LA, while anytime I visited New York it never really felt like home. I decided at the last minute that instead of going to New York I was going to pack my stuff up and move to LA. So, I drove in my car cross-country without a job or anything lined up and just a place to crash.

When I got to LA, I tried really hard to find a job in fashion because that’s what I had my degree in and went to school for. Nothing I saw listed felt fulfilling to me, though. Every job description I was reading and applying for didn’t feel right and didn’t excite me despite me being excited in school. Instead, I made a list of companies in LA that have qualities that I really want in the company I work for. Sugarpill was at the top of my list because I knew I liked the products, the owners, and the ethics. So, it was a trifecta for me and I’m thankful for the position I’m in, but it’s not what I thought I was going to do. Looking back, I don’t know if I would be as happy in a fashion role in New York as I am here in LA in a completely different role.

How do you think your time at MSU influenced your success at your current job?

I consider myself an artist before anything else, so when I was applying for schools I was looking into art schools. In the end, I thought that MSU was the best choice for me, and it ended up exceeding my expectations in making sure I was well rounded. I didn’t want to go to an art school and forfeit having a higher education. Being at MSU allowed me to broaden my horizons and continue my studies in the arts. Overall, it has led me to connect with more people and given me more knowledge about a broader area of topics beyond the artistic world. 

MSU definitely allowed me to make connections with people in completely different roles outside of the art world. It’s amazing because you think you’re going to be in this little art bubble, but you end up working with so many people who are not artists no matter what field you go into. So, it’s really useful to have those connections to students who are in law school, medical school, or people who are engineers. In fact, in my current job, we work with a lot of chemists because of the cosmetics we produce. So, having these connections readily available has been incredibly useful for me. 

Were you a part of any organizations at MSU? 

I was involved with the Student Design Organization on campus and was on the board for the club. We organized trips outside of Michigan to visit with designers, which allowed students to make connections in the design industry. The club prepared students for the future they wanted and was an outlet to create with each other and to learn how to work with a team since a lot of our class projects were solo. We were able to explore different options that we possibly wouldn’t have gotten through our classes.

What advice would you give students who have recently graduated? 

When you go into the work force, don’t have too much expectation on what you think you’re supposed to do next. As long as students know that they are getting a great education that’s going to offer them a lot of opportunity, that they definitely shouldn’t put themselves in a box as to where their degree will take them. They should look for opportunities outside of what they think they’re supposed to do because those opportunities might end up being more fulfilling than their original plan.