Like most people, Michelle Quanrud’s career path has not been a straight line. She’s worked in a variety of jobs, but since 2010, she’s worked for SMG Web Design and she recently took time to explain her job and what’s kept her at it for nine years.
“Jason (Sethre) who owns the Fillmore County Journal also started SMG Web Design 10 years ago, and originally I came on just as an admin, just to help manage the accounts. But over the years I have grown into doing everything from meeting with customers to setting up the website, and then after the site is developed, I manage their site for them,” Michelle shares.
In explaining how she got here, Michelle stated, “In high school, I was really into art, and loved drawing, and I actually won a scholarship to go to the Academy of Art College in San Francisco. But then I quickly realized I probably didn’t want to do that as a career.” So she took a job working at a brokerage firm in San Francisco, where she worked for eight years.
In 1994, Michelle moved to Minnesota, and worked at a hedge fund, but eventually went back to school for computer science. While in school, she said, “I worked at IBM Credit Union (now Think Bank) in their investment department,” and after seven years, left to be closer to home and took a job at an insurance agency. Later she felt the urge to find work that wouldn’t require her to be in an office all the time. “Then I thought,” she explained, “why don’t I do web development?” She found that is a job which can be done from anywhere. “I like technical stuff and math and computer science and art, so that’s a great way to combine it,” she stated. So she enrolled in online schooling for web development. At the same time, she was in the midst of running the JEM Theatre in Harmony, which she and her family did for 14 years.
Michelle admitted that when she was hired to work for SMG Web Design, she had still never actually made a website, but she learned on-the-job how to apply everything she learned in school, and hasn’t looked back since. When asked what keeps the job interesting, Michelle said, “Web design is always evolving. There’s different technologies out there. It keeps it exciting… I’m always looking out for new techniques or new features, and how I can apply them for my customers.” Currently, Michelle said, she is managing about 120 websites. Most are local, but some are from far distant parts of the USA, as satisfied customers have spread the word.
Web design, Michelle said, is much more time-consuming than most people realize. She explained that some customers, such as a chamber of commerce, may have a website with 50 or more pages to create and interconnect. But she enjoys the challenge of creating websites that are eye-catching, user-friendly, and which capture the unique flavor of each customer’s business.
When Michelle isn’t working she enjoys camping, gardening and spending time with her husband Stuart, her youngest son Peter, and all her other grown kids and grandkids. Although Michelle primarily works from home, she now comes into the Fillmore County Journal office two days per week to help with the newspaper as well, and she said she enjoys the variety. She also stated that she makes herself available to meet each customer’s goals, whether that means more customers, increased revenue, or whatever the specific customer or business is targeting.
When asked to summarize how she feels about her job, Michelle stated, “I really love working there… I love what I do for a job. I get excited about it. I really just want to put out a good product for my customers.” So despite a number of career twists and turns, it appears that Michelle is finally right where she ought to be.