Career | Making a Change, Part 1

Well hello, my long-neglected blog! Not long after my last post, I embarked on the journey that is changing jobs, and now that I’m 30+ days into my new role, I thought now would be a good time to reflect on everything that went into that change.

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Back in October, I was invited to speak on a panel discussion at my alma mater, Marymount University, about how to transition from student designer to professional designer. I had a surprising amount of things I wanted to (and did) talk about, but thought I’d highlight a few of my more job search-centric items here.

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I’ve been on both sides of the interview table within the past year, and have been taking mental notes about what appeals to me as an interviewer, and what to incorporate as an interviewee. A lot of these will probably seem obvious to seasoned professionals, but might be useful to those of you who are rusty at interviewing or are just going into the job market.

  1. Have your portfolio and resume in front of you during phone interviews. Even if this means keeping a print copy with you and having a PDF of your portfolio on your phone that you can reference, you need to be prepared to know exactly what your interviewer is referring to without relying on your memory.
  2. Always be at least 10 minutes early for an on-site interview. Don’t expect to start the interview early, but it’s a good idea to give yourself time to get to the right place, get your bearings, and breathe.
  3. Ask for their business cards. Always get your interviewer’s business card(s) so you can send a follow up thank you email!
  4. Make yourself memorable. Before the interview ends, make sure you’ve left something memorable behind—your business card, your resume, or maybe a unique print piece. Send a thank you email to your interviewers—same day is best.
  5. Don’t be afraid to follow up. If it’s been 1-2 weeks since your in person interview and you haven’t heard a peep, it’s okay to follow up with your main point of contact. Keep it polite, use proper email etiquette, remind them who you are and what position you’re interested in, and spell check before you send.

For those of you job searching, if you’re a fan of spreadsheets like me and looking for a way to track your applications, feel free to make a copy of my Job Application Tracker.

Any other tips you’d include for job searching and interviewing?

Thoughts | Growth Over Comfort

Like everyone’s been saying, I can’t believe it’s November already—so close to the end of the year! October was a busy month for me, with a lot of new experiences, which has been making me think about growth and the struggles of pushing out of your comfort zone.

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Margie Warrell at Wrike Collaborate

At the beginning of October I was able to attend the Wrike Collaborate conference in Nashville, TN. It was a really great conference, but what stuck with me most was the opening keynote by Margie Warrell, and it was about choosing growth over comfort. She talked about how to be brave in every day instances, not just the big moments in life. As an introvert, being at a conference by myself was ‘brave’ for me, and definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone—but I surprised myself, and not only learned a lot but even made some new connections.

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The most appropriate quote for a session on change management.

It was nice to be amongst a new group of people—fellow project management nerds! I came back with so much energy and so many new ideas that I don’t think I would’ve had if I hadn’t gone to that conference and outside of my comfort zone. I also discovered that change management is a ‘thing’ and it’s much more complicated than I anticipated—and the idea of it makes me uncomfortable and creates tension, but that’s how you grow. I think that’s why ‘digital transformation’ has become such a big buzzword in the past few years—it’s change management in new words that sound more exciting and way less scary.

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In continuing my month of pushing myself out of my comfort zone, I attended the AIGA DC/Women Talk Design ‘Design Your Talk Topic’ event. I didn’t know anyone else attending, it was a two hour workshop at the end of a work day, and it was raining—if I’d been following what was comfortable, I wouldn’t have gone. But I told myself I needed to, and I was so glad I did. I learned a lot and met some great fellow designers who have some great experiences to share. I was very rewarded for pushing myself out of my comfort zone, and it made me realize that the things I want to speak about are valuable to people, and valid.

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This was nicely followed up by a speaking opportunity! At the end of the month I spoke on a panel at my alma mater, Marymount University in Arlington, about transitioning from student to professional designer. Part of me was thinking, what useful information could I possibly share? I was one panelist of five, and there were many years of experience between the five of us. But if I was invited to speak, I must have had something interesting to share, right? I’m not terribly inexperienced with public speaking (on a small scale), but this was a different environment. I decided this was good practice to be brave and get outside of my comfort zone. I had a great time with my fellow panelists, and somehow filled up all my speaking time! (Thank you again to my former advisor and chair of the Design department, Bridget Murphy, for the invitation!)

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Kyle Bogucki, Jennifer Wong, Raksa Yin, myself, and Beth Singer.

I’m looking forward to continuing to choose growth over comfort in different ways. And as I said at the end of my panel time, thank you for coming to my TED talk.