Saturday, May 17, 2014

Senior Profile: Shuang Li ’14

Photography had nothing to do with her major or the job description for her first internship, but Shuang Li ’14 saw an opportunity to apply her interest in the art to her work for a jewelry store. Her determination to do that led to a job offer before she graduated.

After Li’s graduation from Randolph College this weekend, she will begin a full-time job at Bowen Jewelry Company in Lynchburg, where she has had an internship for more than a year.

Shuang Li ’14 looks over jewelry advertising ideas with Biff Bowen, president of
Bowen Jewelry Company, during her internship with the company in 2013.
Coming from Beijing, China, Li majored in business at Randolph. In her junior year, she heard that Bowen Jewelry wanted a student for a marketing internship. Li began working there for a few hours on two days each week.

“When I first came in, they just needed me to do social media,” Li said. “They had never had a person to manage all their social media and keep it active.”

Li noticed that pictures on Facebook tended to drive more engagement than text updates did. So she started focusing more of her time on creating more stunning images of the jewelry.

“The jewelry industry is very image based,” Li said. “People don’t go into different stores and look at a lot of products and then decide. They decide what they want before they leave their house. They decide online.”

Taking a picture of jewelry is more complicated than it might seem. Li did a lot of research about settings on her camera, how to position jewelry so that it seems to be suspended in mid-air, and how to arrange lights around the setting. She convinced her employers to purchase some equipment. Soon, she had an image that they liked and used in a print ad, which turned out to be very successful.

Last summer, Li was working for the College’s summer paint crew and continuing the internship two days a week. Then her internship supervisors offered to hire her full-time to work on marketing for them.

Biff Bowen, President of Bowen Jewelry Company, said he was impressed by Li’s determination to master jewelry photography. When she encountered obstacles, she saw them as learning opportunities and kept trying until she could create the images she was after.

When her senior year started, Li continued working in a part-time internship at the jewelry shop, but the store offered to hire her full-time upon graduation.

Li said one reason behind her success is the advice she heard from Maryam Brown ’02, Randolph’s internship coordinator, about being professional and making a good impression: “Your job is to make your boss's job easier.”

“I've been trying to reach that,” Li said. “I will do as much as I can do to make their job easier and to save them time.”

“It is my responsibility to just finish and get that job done, no matter what,” she added. “I’m learning and growing, and I hope I can bring more to Bowen Jewelry.”