As with any job there are ups and downs. I seemed to be riding the down roller coaster this week, struggling with some difficult dynamics.
As a young professional about to go into higher education, I am constantly struggling with the concept of education and industry. While idealistically education should lead to a better job, better lifestyle, etc. That is not always the case. The type of education you receive also influences this road as certain schools can offer professional technical backgrounds to students while others can’t. I am in awe of those people who are in the field of design and can go from doing a bachelor’s straight into the industry. This amazement stems from my own background because my undergraduate university did not even offer a degree in design.
I am also in awe of those people with so much talent that they don’t need a strong education. Taking a look at the trends in design, it almost seems as if you are competent enough to get the job, it is there for the taking. Perhaps because I’m a recent graduate and still a little nervous about the world, I feel as if I can never demonstrate my competency to land a job I would really love. Sometimes the thought “even your best isn’t good enough” is true with the amount of competition out there. Sometimes it becomes a juggle of whether a person wants to be the “best of the worst or the best of the worst”. I definitely felt this struggle in when I was deciding to transfer: was it better to be a special designer at Rice where there weren’t many or to be at the bottom of the food chain at a design school?
I was recently have a conversation with a fellow-designer-friend and she commented on how there is always a tradeoff between confidence, experience, and skills for a designer. I’ve heard this exact same thing in a previous talk by Adam Vollmer at San Francisco Design Week, as he mentioned employing people who are 2 out of the following three characteristics: experienced, passionate, and affordable.
It’s sad to think that there has to be a trade-off, but I guess realistically this is what the career demands.
One of the highlights of my week was talking to a co-worker about the tradeoff of working for a small or large company. While my co-worker had a background in sales, he was very encouraging of working in a medium to large scale organization to gain the most benefits. He said that the benefits of working in a company of size definitely outweighs the negatives and for a young professional starting out, it’s great to have more support from the company than not (working at a startup is a pretty independent job). As a freelancer, this is interesting to hear because I’ve always only worked for myself. I enjoy setting my own schedule, etc which I would not be able to do if I were working for a larger company (where there would be more deadlines, etc).
Another issue that has been brought up has been “creative satisfaction within your career”. I heard a lot about this in the d.talks that I attended in San Francisco. While many professionals encourage designers and artists to get out of the office and/or pursue side projects to keep them interested and sharp, they also said there is a basic need to “have a life”. By “having a life” and exploring, the artist within can also gain some inspiration. With that said, being creatively satisfied in a job is a very intangible thing to explain. One of my friends articulated it as “not wanting to be jealous of anyone else”, that’s the point she wanted to reach and settle in her career. Another thing to keep in mind is that there is always room for growth. I constantly look back at my old designs and think that they are horrible. Growth is eventual and inevitable. But after so many years in the industry, it is also important to still get feedback. While it is easy to get passive and create work in a “style”, it should also be a priority to keep pushing yourself toward the next new thing.
Lessons of the week:
– Copy means text.
– Creating templates is the most wonderful thing you can do for yourself.
– Professionalism is important. Nepotism exists.
– A little positivity in the office goes a long way.
– Your initial idea and final idea will never been the same. Have patience.
– Iterations are inevitable. Don’t fight them.