Software Development
Design / Workplace culture

Work Hacks: 22-year-old designer Pauline Rubin

Pauline Rubin recently moved from New York City to Newark, Del. Fresh out of college, the web and graphic designer is already working on large-scale projects, achieving Inbox Zero and avoiding complacency.

Pauline Rubin graduated, with honors, from the Pratt Institute in 2013 with a BFA in Communications Design. Since then, she’s moved to Newark to be with her fiancé, who works as an engineer for DuPont.
Rubin, 22, works as a graphic and web designer for Remline Corp., a marketing agency in Newark. She designs a range of materials — brochures, newsletters, annual reports, newspaper ads, billboards, bus wraps, displays, newsletters — for transportation projects in Delaware and Maryland.
The work she’s most proud of, though, is building websites from scratch — like she did for the Susquehanna River Rail Bridge project.
In the short time since graduation, things have moved quickly for Rubin.
She credits Wilmington coworking space The Loft, where Rubin is a member, with helping her get acclimated to the First State. “It’s a great place to start because everyone there has been so encouraging,” she said.
We asked Rubin to be our guinea pig in a soon-to-be recurring feature, “How I Work,” which we’ve graciously “borrowed” from Baltimore and Brooklyn.
“How I Work” is us asking a well-regarded person in the community a few questions about their day-to-day — some answers to which will apply more to industry colleagues while others will help just about anyone trying to get more done.


What’s the first thing you do every day before doing any startup-related work?
Before I work on any project, I love to do research. I do this in two steps: first I do some research about whatever the topic is I’m working on. I think it’s really important to have some knowledge about the client you’re working for and the audience they’re after in order to create an effective design for them.
The next step is some design and development research: looking at other websites and how they’re handling the same type of information, saving images of elements or colors I think could be incorporated, etc. I make a research folder where I save anything I think could be useful later.
How often do you check your e-mail, and do you use any program to get to ‘Inbox Zero’?
Working at such a fast-paced job, I constantly get e-mails for jobs that need to be done immediately, so I’ve gotten in the habit of checking my emails as soon as I see them. If it’s something I can do right then, I will do it and get it over with. Then I can move the e-mail out of my Inbox and into the appropriate folder based on which client it is for.
If it’s something that I cannot do right then, then I leave it in my Inbox and write down a note on my to-do list to get it done. And anything that I won’t need gets deleted. My goal is to always have my Inbox as clear as possible, and by the end of the day, I usually do.
When you need to take a break, what are you turning to?
When I need a quick break from work, I tend to go on Twitter or some of my favorite design or tech websites because it still keeps me in the work mindset, but I’m still taking a break from the project itself. I also love to go rock climbing or to go for a walk after work because focusing on something physical, away from the computer, clears my head from everything that went on that day. Then I’m refreshed and ready to start working on personal projects or freelance work when I get home.
What’s your gear?
Where I work uses Windows, but I prefer to work on Mac. So at home I have a desktop computer that dual boots Mac and Windows, which gives me the freedom to switch between both sides. I’m also buying a new MacBook Pro next week to replace my old laptop from college.
As far as programs, I use the Adobe Creative Suite for design and Brackets or Sublime Text for coding. I also recently learned Git so I could improve my workflow and am looking into setting up a server on a Raspberry Pi to host my Git repositories.
And of course, I have a Moleskine to sketch, jot down ideas, research, etc.
What’s one way in which you believe your day-to-day work is better now than it has been? Is there something you do now (or don’t do) that you didn’t do before (or did) that has made a big difference?
One thing that I’ve realized over the past year is that if I want to grow and evolve as a designer and developer, I need to actively pursue that goal. When you’re in college, you’re constantly surrounded by new ideas, exciting projects and feedback from all kinds of people.
Being in a full-time job, you’re working the same amount of time you were in college but you’re constantly doing the same type of work over and over and working with the same people over and over.
I think it’s easy to become complacent and stagnant in the position you’re in. So you need to make it a priority to push yourself personally, even if the job doesn’t demand it of you. I’ve started setting goals (short-term and long-term) for skills I want to learn, the type of clients I want to work with, where I want to be in 5, 10, 20 years, etc.
I’ve also started to surround myself with other creatives, such as those at The Loft, so I have people who I can bounce ideas off and who can provide feedback on my work. It keeps me excited and energized to keep pushing myself.

Companies: The Loft

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