Lauryn Harriford ’20

Lauryn Harriford was not used to the snow.

In January 2022, she moved to New York City to join MSNBC as a graphics production assistant, and just a week later, the city experienced a “massive blizzard.” Harriford — a Columbia, South Carolina, native and former Atlanta resident — was awed by the feet of snow outside her apartment door. A snowman was in order.

“I looked around and realized nobody else was playing in the snow except for me,” she laughs.

When Harriford first applied for the position at MSNBC in 2021, she’d thought of it as a shot in the dark, unsure if she was really qualified for the position. She was surprised when she was offered the job. And she was even more surprised to learn that, thanks to a return-to-office initiative, she would have to make her way to the Big Apple in just two short weeks.

“That sort of flipped everything upside down, and I had to hustle to see how in the world I could get an apartment in New York,” she says. “But I just feel like it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I absolutely love New York. I love my job.”

Suddenly, Harriford found herself in the MSNBC newsroom, meeting with producers and creating graphics for a plethora of dayside programs like Morning Joe and Hallie Jackson Reports.

“I work hand in hand with the segment producers, who write the scripts for our anchors, and they also play a big role in brainstorming how we can visualize things,” Harriford says.

After meeting with the segment producers, Harriford gets to work on her graphics assignments for the day, which might entail collaborating with the art department, especially for more complicated designs. But the real pressure comes from the possibility of breaking news, when Harriford must produce graphics in a matter of seconds.

For example, if there’s a major update on Russia’s war in Ukraine, “that’s when everybody’s looking at me and saying, ‘Lauryn, we need a graphic that says this, this and this, and we need it in 30 seconds.’ There are many, many times where I will make something, drop it in the rundown and two seconds later, I’ll see it on live TV.”

Especially on these occasions, Harriford relies on the skills she developed in Clemson’s graphic communications program, where she cut her teeth using Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign and also gained a broad knowledge of photography, videography, web design, marketing and print production.

When she graduated in 2020, Harriford found a job at a small Atlanta-based marketing company as an account creator. She learned a lot, but she missed creating. She missed designing.

“I’ve realized I want to stick with graphics,” Harriford says, reflecting on her career. “I think that’s why I enjoy it so much because I feel like I’m pretty good at it, and people have told me I’m pretty good at it.”

It’s a good thing she applied for that graphics position at a news channel in New York City that she never thought she’d get.

“What do they say? ‘You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take,’” Harriford muses. “That’s very much true.”

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