Bushwacking a living in Web technology

After studying information technology at RIT, Erin Malone '94 went to Eastman Kodak Company. Of her stint at the Yellow Giant, she says: "We had computer and Internet access and, all of a sudden we're hearing about this thing called the Web. I'm thinking, 'Yes!'"

After teaching herself the technical aspects of Web design, she moved to California, began her own Web-design business, with contracts with some top Internet guns, such as Adobe and America Online. "What I do now didn't even exist at RIT as a major when I was there in the early 1990s," she says. "But everything I learned there helped me to make it work."

Chances are, if you've used the Web, you've seen something that Erin Malone has designed. When Malone moved to California, Adobe Systems, Inc., one of the nation's premiere popular software developers, hired her to develop their Web site. The Web was so new at the time, Malone recalls, that, despite all the techies in the firm, no one knew how to put together a Web site. "They were beginning to see that the Web would be a great marketing resource," she says. "They needed someone new to figure out how to do it for them."

Using the skills she taught herself while at Eastman Kodak, Malone, through her business, EM Design, created Web pages and completed other design projects for Adobe. America Online Greenhouse also contracted with Malone: for example, she designed the first-generation Web site for HouseNet and designed the graphics and structure for SweatNet, a fitness site, and NutriBytes, a nutrition information and food log site.

Two years is about the maximum amount of time a Silicon Valley employee will stay in a job, Malone says. "It's a small world. We all have specialties, so we move around laterally." After her two years at Adobe, she went to work for Zip2 Corporation, where she designed Web-based products. Zip2 creates community-based Web sites that offer information tailored to local needs -- yellow pages, and information on local shopping, arts, entertainment, travel, weather and the like. (Zip2 was later bought by Compaq.) "We did New York Today, for The New York Times, and sites for other community newspapers," she says. Next, Malone worked for Web TV, an organization bought by the infamous Microsoft and renamed MSN TV. "It's the convergence of the Internet and television," she says excitedly of the project, which saw her as part of a creative team that looked for ways to develop interactions between the two media.

"It's more about doing cool work than anything else," Malone says of her career. "What I've enjoyed about every one of my jobs is that they all say, 'Here's the subject matter, do whatever you need to get it done.'"

The University Magazine, Spring 1999