I love design because it’s a way to communicate visually. To capture ideas, tell captivating stories, push and pull on emotions – yet it can also be interpreted differently across nations. Be it design that is digital, formal, physical products or the illusions we create design is amazing.
When I was in college course we took ranged from fine art – the foundations of drawing and illustration, to digital art like Photoshop and illustrator, and 3D like solid works rhino, and CAD. My course load was often anywhere between 18 to 21 credits, along with working a part-time job. Luckily I managed to find the jobs that would allowed me to do additional work while in class – like note taking for the Deaf students, or checking people in at the front desk.
My internal struggle upon graduation was feeling that I didn’t know enough, that my portfolio wasn’t good enough and that there are people out there that’s better than me. fast forward five point something years and here I am working for a design company – getting paid as a professional yet the same feelings arise from time to time. You know, that moment you realize you submitted work that had a mistake? Your supervisor comes and points it out in a way that makes you feel small. Is this the way to approach mistakes at work? How do you recover from that? perhaps my feelings are displaced to begin with.
Lets rewind a little bit. I didn’t get my start as a paid designer until three years post graduating from college. once getting hired, I figured I would go in and learn from the experts. Yet what I’ve found is that the experts are so far removed from what its like being a beginner. they have been doing the work for ten plus years and cannot relate to the learning curves – or better yet the learning styles that people are accustomed to. The little nuances that should be communicated and taught are over looked. Or you’re thrown in to figure it out – by yourself – which then leads to mistakes, errors and being seen as incompetent. For certain that is one thing that I am not.
One of my biggest fears is being fired from my job. While I wasn’t “fired” I was let go from an agency without reason or cause. And when I did ask for a reason it was because work was slow. A few months had passed and they called me to go back. In my eyes and in my mouth the distaste had already set in. There was no reason for me to return and work with someone who would call me up while I am waiting outside to enter the work place and tell me, “we don’t need you today, work is slow. We’ll call you when it picks back up”.
Since then, it’s made me not want to work for or with agencies. Sure, at the time I made the decision to leave a part-time job. For me it felt soul sucking and brain numbing – it lacked mental stimuli and just wasn’t for me. The work was repetitive and EVERYTHING was spelled out. I don’t want to go no I can’t back to a place of feeling worthless, depressed, and have my bills piling up to the ceiling. (Yes I’m still salty about it).
You would think though that just as I would need to give a two weeks notice, there would be some type of warning, message, consideration even? for me to better prepare and make arrangements to search for another place of work. For many companies it’s a race to the bottom, survival of the fittest, and to be seen as the best.
I, for one am interested in doing work that matters. I want to do work that impacts people’s lives. I want others to see my life and feel inspired to engage ask questions of why I do what I do, how I’ve chosen to do it and that they see my life’s work as a reflection of my ultimate beliefs.
In my research, there are very few companies that are sincerely interested and invested in their employees lives and well-being. Some will say they want you to do your best work, and yes there are circumstances of which we cannot control in and out of work – but the ones that can, should actually follow through on implementing it. I don’t say that from the thinking of entitlement. I say that from the perspective of duty. An employer builds a business and hires employees. Why not invest in their lives to continue to get the best work from them. Otherwise its just a job, not a career – not a path of building a body of life’s work.
It is our duty to leave behind a legacy. Yet most of us are too fearful to jump that ship.