Written By: Kathryn Hornbeck

When I learned who my UShadow host was, I did what any curious mind would do and Googled the man, Brandon Grom, and the company, Design Miami. The former was easy to understand – he was a recent UMiami graduate with a business degree who worked a series of odd jobs before becoming an exhibit coordinator at Design Miami. The latter, however, flummoxed me. The website was incomprehensible, and for the life of me I could not figure out what it was they actually did.

Not wanting to sound silly for not understanding his company’s purpose, I readily admit that I went to the office, located in the beautiful Design District, during spring break, without a clue as to precisely what it was he did.

The office was no ordinary office; it was essentially a furniture art museum that was spacious and slightly surreal. Brandon cheerfully greeted me and we began to tour the space. Naturally, the first thing he asked me was if I had researched the company – I had, but I was still lost on what it was they did, and said as much.

I learned Design Miami coordinates two major interior design festivals a year, one in Miami and one in Basel, Switzerland. Galleries set up exhibits in the festivals to show off their couture furniture – it is, essentially, IKEA on steroids. Brandon works with each of these galleries to help them with logistics, dates, times, invitations, etc.

We moved on to the informational interview, which was a casual two-way conversation about each other and our respective academics, extra-curriculars, and goals for the future. Brandon was living proof that you never know where you are going to end up – he had never even taken an art course before working for Design Miami, yet there he was, working with some of the biggest names in the design business on a day-to-day basis.

Due to my interest in graphic design, I was able to sit in on a website design meeting between the company’s website programmers and content editors. Twenty minutes was enough for me to decide that it was not something I would consider doing for a living; if I hadn’t attended that meeting, I would not have realized it wasn’t the job for me, so I’m thankful I did!

I stayed at Design Miami until 3 p.m. and was able to speak with marketing coordinators and budget analysts, learn about some software specific to Brandon’s field of work, and take a tour of the Design District.

I am so grateful for the opportunity UShadow afforded – I would never have even thought about art and showcasing before that day, but it turns out to be something I will seriously look into in the future. I plan to stay in touch with Brandon, as he is happy to act as a resource for any future questions or concerns I might have. We are connected on LinkedIn and via e-mail.

Though I went in not sure what to expect from my UShadow experience, I highly recommend it, as you will without a doubt have the opportunity to discover more about your likes, dislikes, interests, and passions, which is all any confused college student can ask for!