Disillusioned Junior Designers

25 Aug 2006 - 7:26am
8 years ago
18 replies
749 reads
Jon Kolko [SCAD]
2005

Hi,

I want to share with the list an email I just received from one of my
students.

==

It's been an extremely bumpy road with [COMPANY]. Irony of ironies, I of
all people ended up at a company that is still primarily focused on
visual design and cute little animations. After a year of beating my
head against the management wall, trying to incorporate interaction
design/research, i can't do it anymore. They've broken promises,
changed directions monthly, and i haven't had a boss or mentor to speak
of the entire time i've been here. (I did finally learn shortcuts in
illustrator though, hooray! :) )

i'm questioning whether i should even be doing this (design) because of
this job, and that's really sad and not ok. some days i feel like i
can't do anything right and it's like they threw me in the pool and
left me to drown. other days i'm so angry that they saw my portfolio,
interviewed me, and were still totally shocked by the skill-set that
they actually hired. the worst part is that my finances are all fucked
up because the salary is just insultingly low, but i believed at the
time that there was so much room for growth that it would be ok for a
few months.

AND I just got a new boss who is a flash-obsessed programmer, outwardly
says he's not a designer. He seems to think i'm 'new' and took half my
responsibilities away. It's like I've been fucking demoted.

every day i try not to just walk out the door. this all may sound a
little dramatic, but it's like the reality of professional design has
come crashing in so hard that i'm worried I might lose my belief that
it can exist as something more thoughtful and meaningful.

I don't want to be jaded :(

==

The individual above is a strong designer and an intellectual individual;
she had no trouble getting her first job, which is at a relatively well
known consultancy.

The frequency with which I receive emails like this from alumni is
incredible; this type of situation is the norm, not the exception, with
junior Interaction Designers. I certainly make an effort to talk about
evangelizing and educating others about Interaction Design in my classroom -
and how most people won't have a clue what it is that they do when they
graduate - but I'm obviously not doing enough to warn my students of the
pain that is Real Life.

I'm curious how other educators handle this.

I'm also interested to find out how the rest of this list feels about this
negative or completely barren public perception of Interaction Design. I'm
starting to think that, while Interaction Design has certainly come a long
ways, perhaps we haven't really begun to do the entrenchment work necessary
to really make a difference in business.

Thanks,

Jon Kolko
Professor, Industrial & Interaction Design
Savannah College of Art and Design

http://facultypages.scad.edu/~jkolko
AOL IM// jkolkoSCAD

Comments

25 Aug 2006 - 8:58am
Josh Seiden
2003

Jon,

This is a great post (despite the fact that it's based
on frustration). Thank you for sharing it with the
group.

My first thought on reading this was, "send her my
way!" Seriously, the problem here cuts both ways.
Interaction designers have trouble finding each other,
whether they are looking for work or looking to hire.
In my role as a hiring manager, I can't tell you how
many resumes I see from Art Directors, Creative
Directors, HTML Gurus, CSS Mavens, Javascript Lords,
Flash Goddesses, etc. (No offense! I love you all.
Really. I just wish I saw more resumes from people
that demonstrated an understanding of IxD.)

I do believe that one of the goals of IxDA is to
change this situation--by building ways for those of
us in the community can find one another, and by
evangelizing to those outside of the community.

Regarding your student, I encourage her to find (or
form) a nearby IxDA F2F. She'll find other like-minded
souls, and perhaps make connections that will lead
directly to another job. (Which it's clear to me that
she needs--immediately.)

Regarding educators... I hope that our schools are
teaching both technical and career skills. I have no
idea what your curriculum looks like, so I'll just
share with you some thoughts about the career issues I
see as important for designers.

First, I think we all need to be able to discern good
job environments from bad ones. This is difficult to
do without experience and without a model of what
makes a good work environment.

For my money, there are two books on the subject that
should be required reading: "Peopleware" (Demarco and
Lister) and "First Break All the Rules" (Buckingham
and Coffman.) Although both are ostensibly aimed at
managers, both do an excellent job of describing the
differences between good and bad workplaces. They have
helped me create a model of what I'm looking for in
the workplace and of the type of workplaces I seek to
create.

For example, "First Break..." offers a list of
questions that predict great working environments.
They include:

1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do
my work right?
3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do
best every day?
4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition
or praise for doing good work.
5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to
care about me as a person?
6. Is there someone at work who encourages my
development?

(There are 6 more---buy the book!)

Second, I think it's VERY important for young
designers to avoid the evangelism business if they
can. It's hard enough to learn one's craft in a good
context. Having to be an evangelist implies that one
is not working in a the right context. (This is not to
say that we shouldn't be good evangelists, just that
we shouldn't expect that to be a healthy part of an
entry-level role.) When I see young designers working
in a vacuum--that is, when they have to be their own
support system--I always want to encourage them to
move on.

JS

--- "Jon Kolko [SCAD]" <jkolko at scad.edu> wrote:

> I want to share with the list an email I just
> received from one of my
> students.
...

> I'm curious how other educators handle this.
...

> I'm also interested to find out how the rest of this
> list feels ...

25 Aug 2006 - 9:05am
Brad Bonham
2006

I'd sent the below to Jon, but meant to send it to the whole list (I'm
new here!), and echoes some of what Josh just mentioned.

My first question would be why doesn't this person look for a new job?
I'm sure there are probably some life constraints that make jumping ship
difficult, but the best solution to an intensely unsatisfying job is to
find another one. If she got a job quickly to begin with, she's probably
very marketable.

I would suggest that there has never been a more exciting time to be a
designer. Interaction design is *still* being defined on the web; sure,
there are some growing pains in terms of how the discipline is executed
and how it is perceived and received within the corporate world, but the
time is ripe for good people to have profound (I don't use the word
lightly) influence for how people use software, particularly web-based
software.

When I finished grad school 3 years ago, the landscape for design seemed
very bleak to me. To me it seemed like the dot com bust had made any
web-based venture seem like speculative folly, and usability had become
over-priced dead weight for many organizations. That may or not be an
accurate state of affairs, but at least that's how it *seemed* to me.

Everything I had done in grad school had prepared me for a career in
interface design and usability, but when the one job that seemed to fit
my skills actually came open, I was too disillusioned with the job
market at the time to even apply for it. A professor had to nudge me,
and the rest is history, and where I work now, junior designers have a
tremendous amount of influence over the design of products. It's
exciting! And now I'm seeing dozens of job postings a month from
companies that have presumably recognized the need for interaction
designers as a new era of interaction is sweeping across the web, almost
uncontrollably. All around I see opportunity!

I'm not an educator, but what I'd suggest to students (because I was one
not long ago) is that the landscape is young, sometimes scary, sometimes
exciting. Be willing to change fast, and try to find an organization
that recognizes the importance of design and user experience, and be
quick to leave ones that won't get the picture.

==

It's been an extremely bumpy road with [COMPANY]. Irony of ironies, I of
all people ended up at a company that is still primarily focused on
visual design and cute little animations. After a year of beating my
head against the management wall, trying to incorporate interaction
design/research, i can't do it anymore. They've broken promises, changed
directions monthly, and i haven't had a boss or mentor to speak of the
entire time i've been here. (I did finally learn shortcuts in
illustrator though, hooray! :) )

i'm questioning whether i should even be doing this (design) because of
this job, and that's really sad and not ok. some days i feel like i
can't do anything right and it's like they threw me in the pool and left
me to drown. other days i'm so angry that they saw my portfolio,
interviewed me, and were still totally shocked by the skill-set that
they actually hired. the worst part is that my finances are all fucked
up because the salary is just insultingly low, but i believed at the
time that there was so much room for growth that it would be ok for a
few months.

AND I just got a new boss who is a flash-obsessed programmer, outwardly
says he's not a designer. He seems to think i'm 'new' and took half my
responsibilities away. It's like I've been fucking demoted.

every day i try not to just walk out the door. this all may sound a
little dramatic, but it's like the reality of professional design has
come crashing in so hard that i'm worried I might lose my belief that it
can exist as something more thoughtful and meaningful.

I don't want to be jaded :(

==

The individual above is a strong designer and an intellectual
individual; she had no trouble getting her first job, which is at a
relatively well known consultancy.

The frequency with which I receive emails like this from alumni is
incredible; this type of situation is the norm, not the exception, with
junior Interaction Designers. I certainly make an effort to talk about
evangelizing and educating others about Interaction Design in my
classroom - and how most people won't have a clue what it is that they
do when they graduate - but I'm obviously not doing enough to warn my
students of the pain that is Real Life.

I'm curious how other educators handle this.

I'm also interested to find out how the rest of this list feels about
this negative or completely barren public perception of Interaction
Design. I'm starting to think that, while Interaction Design has
certainly come a long ways, perhaps we haven't really begun to do the
entrenchment work necessary to really make a difference in business.

Thanks,

Jon Kolko

Professor, Industrial & Interaction Design Savannah College of Art and
Design

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25 Aug 2006 - 9:36am
Dave Malouf
2005

The only thing I would like to add to this thread is that ...

1. Job hunting skills should be included in any IxD cirriculum. What
does this mean?
I think the obvious stuff is how to present a portfolio ... shoot, I'm
still learning this.
But also how to interview your interviewer. Jared Spool in helping me
think about a recent spat of interviews said, "First sell yourself, and
then have them sell you." ... I think this is relevant regardless of sr
or jr.
I think screening your upcoming work environment needs to be added to
this skill set in today's design landscape, but part of this is
analyzing deeply what type of environment you like and work well in.

2. Mentors, Mentors, Mentors
The best candidates I have seen lately are the ones that have deep
mentors (or any mentors) in their on going life that is not tied to
their job. Great to have Mentors at your job, but better in a way to
grow a resource pool of mentorship and peership outside of your direct
work environment.
I think that Josh's suggestion about starting and finding an IxD
face2face group is really a big part of this. I would not have the deep
pool of Mentors and peer connections that I have today if it were not
for the work I do with IxDA. Of course there are other orgs and other
means of finding mentors, but this one just stands out to me.

As to the state of the design environment in general, I'm not sure I
agree with this total disillusionment. I have a lot of disillusionment
in my current employ and have been generally frustrated upon entry in my
last positions, but I think that the tide is turning in many
organizations. There are still many more bad places than good places,
but I am confident that we are moving in the right direction.

I also agree with Josh that "evangelism" should not be part of any
junior designer's roles.

-- dave

25 Aug 2006 - 10:10am
Chris McLay
2005

Hi Jon, Everyone,

I'm not sure if this is specific to interaction design, but the
"newness" of the field probably makes it worse...

* A junior designer is not likely to be able to instigate change

They are a junior designer for a reason, and while they may be
talented and well trained, they are unlikely to have the skills to
communicate / demonstrate / lead change in a team or business
environment. This type of change is hard work, and young designers
expect to change the world - when it doesn't change it can be heart
breaking.

* Graduates expectations are often sky high

In every field this is the case, especially these days. My wife works
in government and regularly tells stories of new graduate staff who
complain about having to photocopy reports or do mail outs themselves
- they have better skills than that! But the reality is that we all
have to do menial tasks in order to to the chunkier more challenging
tasks we'd like to do. I hate having to check through hundred of
photo's, check off hundreds of documents, keep time sheets, write
reports, but someone has to do it, and most companies can't afford to
keep photocopy boys or mail girls and everyone has to muck in to get
the job done.

* Design is hard and "Real Life" is a pain

I'm sure I don't need to explain this here, except to say that I love
being a designer and I have a great life. All these thing are true,
and being hard and painful is probably necessary for me to love it so
much. I think this is a lesson for experience, and won't work in a
class room. I think it's something that only designers (in the broad
sense) truly understand.

I'm not sure that any of this can be taught in advance, but it comes
from experience. Maybe students can be warned - but many don't listen
anyway. Maybe they can be given coping skills? Staying a part of a
broader design community always helps, and hopefully many can find
mentors and friends outside their work environments who can
understand their pain and help them through the tough times. Focus on
the bigger picture, this is the first job of many, in the first years
of a 40+ year career.

Maybe it's just part of learning to be a designer - the client is not
always right, but you're always working for them.

Good luck,
Chris

--
Chris McLay ...// interaction & visual designer

Email chris at eeoh.com.au
Web http://www.eeoh.com.au/chris/

25 Aug 2006 - 3:07pm
Dan Saffer
2003

A couple of people have touched on this, but I am going to pound it
home by flatly stating that no junior interaction designer should
ever join a company without a more senior interaction designer there.
I'm sure there are exceptions to this, and I'm sure some of these
senior designers aren't the best mentors, but as a general rule, I'm
certain this is true. Especially new designers fresh out of design
school need mentoring and more training--often to unlearn or re-learn
the stuff they learned at school.

Dan

Dan Saffer
book http://www.designingforinteraction.com
work http://www.adaptivepath.com
site http://www.odannyboy.com

25 Aug 2006 - 3:34pm
Mark Schraad
2006

User and customer centered orientations for product and service
offerings must be initiated or at least have full support from the
very top of the executive group. That is why designers MUST learn to
speak the business language. Design (as well as sales, marketing,
customer service) are all systemic functions when done right. As a
lower level employee, you just do not have the clout to make this
happen.

"Right facing" or "180 degree thinking" means turning the org chart
upside down for anything to do with the customer.

Mark

On Aug 25, 2006, at 9:26 AM, Jon Kolko [SCAD] wrote:

> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> Hi,
>
> I want to share with the list an email I just received from one of my
> students.
>
> ==
>
> It's been an extremely bumpy road with [COMPANY]. Irony of ironies,
> I of
> all people ended up at a company that is still primarily focused on
> visual design and cute little animations. After a year of beating my
> head against the management wall, trying to incorporate interaction
> design/research, i can't do it anymore. They've broken promises,
> changed directions monthly, and i haven't had a boss or mentor to
> speak
> of the entire time i've been here. (I did finally learn shortcuts in
> illustrator though, hooray! :) )
>
> i'm questioning whether i should even be doing this (design)
> because of
> this job, and that's really sad and not ok. some days i feel like i
> can't do anything right and it's like they threw me in the pool and
> left me to drown. other days i'm so angry that they saw my portfolio,
> interviewed me, and were still totally shocked by the skill-set that
> they actually hired. the worst part is that my finances are all fucked
> up because the salary is just insultingly low, but i believed at the
> time that there was so much room for growth that it would be ok for a
> few months.
>
> AND I just got a new boss who is a flash-obsessed programmer,
> outwardly
> says he's not a designer. He seems to think i'm 'new' and took half my
> responsibilities away. It's like I've been fucking demoted.
>
> every day i try not to just walk out the door. this all may sound a
> little dramatic, but it's like the reality of professional design has
> come crashing in so hard that i'm worried I might lose my belief that
> it can exist as something more thoughtful and meaningful.
>
> I don't want to be jaded :(
>
> ==
>
> The individual above is a strong designer and an intellectual
> individual;
> she had no trouble getting her first job, which is at a relatively
> well
> known consultancy.
>
> The frequency with which I receive emails like this from alumni is
> incredible; this type of situation is the norm, not the exception,
> with
> junior Interaction Designers. I certainly make an effort to talk about
> evangelizing and educating others about Interaction Design in my
> classroom -
> and how most people won't have a clue what it is that they do when
> they
> graduate - but I'm obviously not doing enough to warn my students
> of the
> pain that is Real Life.
>
> I'm curious how other educators handle this.
>
> I'm also interested to find out how the rest of this list feels
> about this
> negative or completely barren public perception of Interaction
> Design. I'm
> starting to think that, while Interaction Design has certainly come
> a long
> ways, perhaps we haven't really begun to do the entrenchment work
> necessary
> to really make a difference in business.
>
>
> Thanks,
>
>
> Jon Kolko
> Professor, Industrial & Interaction Design
> Savannah College of Art and Design
>
> http://facultypages.scad.edu/~jkolko
> AOL IM// jkolkoSCAD
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org

26 Aug 2006 - 12:32am
Gabriel White
2005

My recommendation to graduates who want work in IxD is to look for a
company that clearly understands that interaction design is distinct
role / activity:

- Do they have a person / team whose role is exclusively interaction design?
- Do they talk about interaction design as a distinct component of the
design process (and probe them on what that actually means - make sure
it's not just lip service)?
- Is interaction design part of what is sold to customers (is the
value being communicated)?
- How important is interaction design to the business generally? How
does it integrate with their other activities? When are interaction
designers engaged in the work process?

I agree that as a junior it's very difficult to change things, and
also it's critical to work with other senior people (hey, it's always
critical to work with other interaction designers, doesn't matter how
experienced you are).

Gabe

26 Aug 2006 - 6:17am
jbellis
2005

Gabe,
Each of your bullet items properly distinguishes good Ux environments, but
the sum of your letter's parts presuposes that recent graduates (or most of
us for that matter) choose our employer. For most folks, that was barely
even the case in 2000 at the height of the 'employee's market.'

Being a US-East-Coast-er, I'm constantly impressed by the abundance of
sophisticated Ux job posts from the Bay Area, but surely that is not an
accurate measure of the "long tail" that comprises most of us scratching and
clawing to do Ux work.

-Jack
----- Original Message -----
From: "Gabriel White" <gabrielwhite at gmail.com>
>
> My recommendation to graduates who want work in IxD is to look for a
> company that ...

26 Aug 2006 - 8:40am
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

Successful interaction designers are organization hubs, they *have* to
interact with variety of people across organization. Therefore an important
and unavoidable part of interaction design is politics. I don't think
political skills are taught in design schools. To make matters worse, not
every personality type is adept in social interactions.

"First Break All the Rules" (good book) describes environment in well-run
companies. It touches on, but doesn't cover in detail internal politics,
especially those in not-so-well run companies, where managers do not read
insightful managerial books.

-------------------------------

Let's see... Useful personality traits for interaction designers: analysis,
creativity, social skills (communication, assertiveness, amiability) +
technical knowledge. Taken singly these personal traits can be found
relatively easy. All together, in one body - not very common combination.
Moreover this is the same combination often found among entrepreneurs - a
drain on the pool of employable designers.

--
Oleh Kovalchuke
Interaction Design is Design of Time
http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm

On 8/25/06, Josh Seiden <joshseiden at yahoo.com> wrote:
>
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> Jon,
>
> This is a great post (despite the fact that it's based
> on frustration). Thank you for sharing it with the
> group.
>
> My first thought on reading this was, "send her my
> way!" Seriously, the problem here cuts both ways.
> Interaction designers have trouble finding each other,
> whether they are looking for work or looking to hire.
> In my role as a hiring manager, I can't tell you how
> many resumes I see from Art Directors, Creative
> Directors, HTML Gurus, CSS Mavens, Javascript Lords,
> Flash Goddesses, etc. (No offense! I love you all.
> Really. I just wish I saw more resumes from people
> that demonstrated an understanding of IxD.)
>
> I do believe that one of the goals of IxDA is to
> change this situation--by building ways for those of
> us in the community can find one another, and by
> evangelizing to those outside of the community.
>
> Regarding your student, I encourage her to find (or
> form) a nearby IxDA F2F. She'll find other like-minded
> souls, and perhaps make connections that will lead
> directly to another job. (Which it's clear to me that
> she needs--immediately.)
>
> Regarding educators... I hope that our schools are
> teaching both technical and career skills. I have no
> idea what your curriculum looks like, so I'll just
> share with you some thoughts about the career issues I
> see as important for designers.
>
> First, I think we all need to be able to discern good
> job environments from bad ones. This is difficult to
> do without experience and without a model of what
> makes a good work environment.
>
> For my money, there are two books on the subject that
> should be required reading: "Peopleware" (Demarco and
> Lister) and "First Break All the Rules" (Buckingham
> and Coffman.) Although both are ostensibly aimed at
> managers, both do an excellent job of describing the
> differences between good and bad workplaces. They have
> helped me create a model of what I'm looking for in
> the workplace and of the type of workplaces I seek to
> create.
>
> For example, "First Break..." offers a list of
> questions that predict great working environments.
> They include:
>
> 1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
> 2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do
> my work right?
> 3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do
> best every day?
> 4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition
> or praise for doing good work.
> 5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to
> care about me as a person?
> 6. Is there someone at work who encourages my
> development?
>
> (There are 6 more---buy the book!)
>
> Second, I think it's VERY important for young
> designers to avoid the evangelism business if they
> can. It's hard enough to learn one's craft in a good
> context. Having to be an evangelist implies that one
> is not working in a the right context. (This is not to
> say that we shouldn't be good evangelists, just that
> we shouldn't expect that to be a healthy part of an
> entry-level role.) When I see young designers working
> in a vacuum--that is, when they have to be their own
> support system--I always want to encourage them to
> move on.
>
> JS
>
> --- "Jon Kolko [SCAD]" <jkolko at scad.edu> wrote:
>
> > I want to share with the list an email I just
> > received from one of my
> > students.
> ...
>
> > I'm curious how other educators handle this.
> ...
>
> > I'm also interested to find out how the rest of this
> > list feels ...
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

26 Aug 2006 - 1:14pm
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

>The useful personality traits for interaction designers: analytical,
creative, socially adept
>(communicative, assertive, amicable, perceptive of group dynamics) +
technically
>knowledgeable. Taken singly these personal traits can be found with
relative ease...

Hm. Add good sense of humour and you have someone almost good enough to take
out for dinner and long walks on a beach...

--
Oleh Kovalchuke
Interaction Design is Design of Time
http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm

26 Aug 2006 - 3:38pm
Phillip Hunter
2006

I think Gabe's points are much more critical to hold on to than the
desperation of waiting to be picked out of the kickball team selection line.
Patience and flexibility are the keys to picking your employee. And, at the
very least, one should carefully pick the companies applied to. If you are
not getting a sense through prior research or during the interview process
of how Gabe's points apply to a certain company, you are doing yourself a
grave career and personal disservice. If you do find out, you still need to
be willing to say "no" and work towards finding the right company. Scary?
Maybe. Far more fulfilling? Absolutely.

Phillip

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
jackbellis.com
Sent: Saturday, August 26, 2006 6:17 AM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Disillusioned Junior Designers

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]

Gabe,
Each of your bullet items properly distinguishes good Ux environments, but
the sum of your letter's parts presuposes that recent graduates (or most of
us for that matter) choose our employer. For most folks, that was barely
even the case in 2000 at the height of the 'employee's market.'

Being a US-East-Coast-er, I'm constantly impressed by the abundance of
sophisticated Ux job posts from the Bay Area, but surely that is not an
accurate measure of the "long tail" that comprises most of us scratching and

clawing to do Ux work.

-Jack
----- Original Message -----
From: "Gabriel White" <gabrielwhite at gmail.com>
>
> My recommendation to graduates who want work in IxD is to look for a
> company that ...

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26 Aug 2006 - 3:51pm
Phillip Hunter
2006

I want to reinforce that some of these lessons pointed out by Chris:

"* A junior designer is not likely to be able to instigate change

* Graduates expectations are often sky high

* Design is hard and "Real Life" is a pain

* the client is not always right, but you're always working for them."

Are difficultly but valuably learned at companies that "don't get it". I
haven't been able to see that there is an exemption to this. And I have
definitely seen the downside of not learning these lessons, both in new
grads and employees coming from sheltered companies.

I would challenge someone who "is a strong designer and an intellectual
individual" in a bad situation to put a check on the frustration for a bit
and try to understand some of the things they are learning. Answers to
everything from "what do I want in a new job/company?" to "How would I
design differently if I could?" to "What arguments for change could I
intelligently make if I had the chance?" will make them a better designer, a
better employee, and maybe even a better person. Time will dull the
negatives of the experience yet increase the value and power of the answers.

Phillip

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Chris
McLay
Sent: Friday, August 25, 2006 10:10 AM
To: Jon Kolko [SCAD]
Cc: discuss at lists.interactiondesigners.com
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Disillusioned Junior Designers

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]

Hi Jon, Everyone,

I'm not sure if this is specific to interaction design, but the

"newness" of the field probably makes it worse...

* A junior designer is not likely to be able to instigate change

* Graduates expectations are often sky high

* Design is hard and "Real Life" is a pain

Maybe it's just part of learning to be a designer - the client is not

always right, but you're always working for them.

Good luck,

Chris

--

Chris McLay ...// interaction & visual designer

Email chris at eeoh.com.au

Web http://www.eeoh.com.au/chris/

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27 Aug 2006 - 7:25am
Gabriel White
2005

Jack,

Understand your point.

The guidelines I suggested should probably be used to help evaluate
potential employers, not as set of minimum necessary requirements.

But also, I'd strongly encourage graduates to at least find a
workplace which has other experienced and passionate interaction
designers. Even if the organisation is screwed up, there will
hopefully be opportunities to learn from experienced practitioners.
Without that it's going to be a much longer road to travel.

Gabe

On 8/26/06, jackbellis.com <jackbellis at hotmail.com> wrote:
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
> Gabe,
> Each of your bullet items properly distinguishes good Ux environments, but
> the sum of your letter's parts presuposes that recent graduates (or most of
> us for that matter) choose our employer. For most folks, that was barely
> even the case in 2000 at the height of the 'employee's market.'
>
> Being a US-East-Coast-er, I'm constantly impressed by the abundance of
> sophisticated Ux job posts from the Bay Area, but surely that is not an
> accurate measure of the "long tail" that comprises most of us scratching and
> clawing to do Ux work.
>
> -Jack
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Gabriel White" <gabrielwhite at gmail.com>
> >
> > My recommendation to graduates who want work in IxD is to look for a
> > company that ...
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

29 Aug 2006 - 1:42am
Tommy Eskelinen
2004

Hello,
Here's my word of advice for young people ;-)

- Being new in any company means you have to gain the trust of your
co-workers to be heard. As a junior, you have to prove that on-site, bit by
bit. As a Senior you probably have a good track-record that helps you along
the way. For me this means that as a junior you should try to do change in
small quantities in order to build up that trust.

- In any company you will have politics. As a newcomer with a broad
knowledge you might pose a threat to some of the other employees, be this in
the graphical design area, be this in the marketing area, therefore people
don't trust you. As a senior you usually are higher up in the hierarchy, and
are considered more of a leader and therefore have more trust. For me this
means you need to keep a quite low profile and speak up in terms like "Could
we do like this...?" and also pick your fights, don't try to win every
battle (I guess this goes for all levels)

- Get to know all the details of the product/company you work for, listen to
the old people. Not many companies welcome change easily, my guess is that
many companies are risk averse. Why risk losing 50% in sales to gain 20%% in
sales. This is why the product development process many times is done in
baby-steps. For me this means that I try to listen to all people in a
company to understand how the company makes money, and find innovative
solutions for things that would add value to the core product or for things
that could develop into a money maker in addition to the core product. There
will come a time for when you will get to do that major change that you look
for.

I guess it all renders down to patience and hard work, or maybe I'm just a
manipulative son of a female dog.

Thanks,
tommy

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Gabriel
White
Sent: Sunday, August 27, 2006 3:26 PM
To: jackbellis.com
Cc: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Disillusioned Junior Designers

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]

Jack,

Understand your point.

The guidelines I suggested should probably be used to help evaluate
potential employers, not as set of minimum necessary requirements.

But also, I'd strongly encourage graduates to at least find a
workplace which has other experienced and passionate interaction
designers. Even if the organisation is screwed up, there will
hopefully be opportunities to learn from experienced practitioners.
Without that it's going to be a much longer road to travel.

Gabe

On 8/26/06, jackbellis.com <jackbellis at hotmail.com> wrote:
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
material.]
>
> Gabe,
> Each of your bullet items properly distinguishes good Ux environments, but
> the sum of your letter's parts presuposes that recent graduates (or most
of
> us for that matter) choose our employer. For most folks, that was barely
> even the case in 2000 at the height of the 'employee's market.'
>
> Being a US-East-Coast-er, I'm constantly impressed by the abundance of
> sophisticated Ux job posts from the Bay Area, but surely that is not an
> accurate measure of the "long tail" that comprises most of us scratching
and
> clawing to do Ux work.
>
> -Jack
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Gabriel White" <gabrielwhite at gmail.com>
> >
> > My recommendation to graduates who want work in IxD is to look for a
> > company that ...
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
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29 Aug 2006 - 7:24am
Juan Lanus
2005

On 8/29/06, Tommy Eskelinen <tommy at eskelinen.net> wrote:
> ... Not many companies welcome change easily, ...

This is the essence of like, ant it's a good thing. This is not to say
that knee-jerk management is the goal, read more.

The same as living species defend themselves of degeneration by
resisting evolution, other forms of life like companies do behave in a
similar way.
Living species defend from degeneration by having children that are
very similar to their parents, generation after generation. This
happens biologically, and among people it also happens culturally
when, for example, a family of one culture in not very happy to see
one of its members marrying to a member of other culture. And I'm not
talking about enemies: it may be any combination.

Companies that are operating have a product and a continuity. Clients
who chose the product valorate the continuity bacause it saves them
making decisions each time, think of one who buys Ford cars across the
years because he trusts the brand.

The brand is built on continuity, not in abrupt change (like the Edsel).

This resistance to change is the inner manifestation of branding. It's
what injects confidence in the buyer's minds. It's made of the push of
the innovators and the resistance of the conservatives.

Now, there is the other side of the coin. The dinosaur, the species
that did not evolute in time and got caught by the wave.
In short, I'm trying to say that change is a must, and also is a must
that it doesn't happen overnight.
--
Juan Lanus
TECNOAOL
Argentina

29 Aug 2006 - 5:07pm
Katie Albers
2005

At 9:42 AM +0200 8/29/06, Tommy Eskelinen wrote:
>[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>

<snip>

>- Get to know all the details of the product/company you work for, listen to
>the old people. Not many companies welcome change easily, my guess is that
>many companies are risk averse. Why risk losing 50% in sales to gain 20%% in
>sales. This is why the product development process many times is done in
>baby-steps. For me this means that I try to listen to all people in a
>company to understand how the company makes money, and find innovative
>solutions for things that would add value to the core product or for things
>that could develop into a money maker in addition to the core product. There
>will come a time for when you will get to do that major change that you look
>for.
>
>I guess it all renders down to patience and hard work, or maybe I'm just a
>manipulative son of a female dog.
>
>Thanks,
>tommy

Generally, Tommy, I agree with your points, but I think you
understated this one....Many (if not most) companies are so risk
averse that they will not take an action that will risk losing 20% in
sales to gain 50% in sales. They wouldn't do it if Charlton Heston
came down from a mountain carrying stone tablets engraved with that
information.

"We've always done it this way" is a virtually unbeatable argument in
many companies. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" runs a close
second, and "It *is* broke" is not considered an adequate response.

Basically, when you start out, consider any small step you manage to
take towards Doing Things Right to be a major achievement and don't
beat yourself up when your efforts in that direction aren't welcomed.

From one who's still trying to learn that lesson, after many many
years in the field,

Katie

29 Aug 2006 - 7:34pm
Michele Marut
2005

There's been lots of great advice on this topic already - just wanted to add
this one book to the list

*They Don't Teach Corporate in
College*<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1564147657/ref=ase_theydontteach-20/102-0564366-5047344?v=glance&s=books>
by Alexandra Levit<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-url/index=books&field-author=Levit%2C%20Alexandra/102-0564366-5047344>

Although geared towards new grads to read before doing a job search or
starting out, I think it might make more sense to those who have been
working for a short time as they can better relate to some of the situations
in the book.

2 Sep 2006 - 11:52pm
Chris Dame
2006

Great points brought up by everyone so far on this. These are valid issues
for most people entering the workforce, but especially so in our field in
the current climate. The field has changed a lot since I entered it nearly
a decade ago, growing and solidifying into something more established and
defined. However, I think this is a bit of an indicator about the current
state of the field as a whole. I have established IxD groups in several
different companies now, and as such i have seen a lot of the different
expectations about what companies have for "User Experience" and
Designers. Also, this thread intrigued me enough that I spoke to a few
recent grads, specifically from the SCAD IxD program.

It feels like IxD is in a state of transition right now, and is
experiencing growing pains. The field is quickly becoming well-known and
desired, and the practitioners in the field are happy to join in the fray.
Almost everyone I have met in the field has been very enthusiastic and
excited about the work they do, and very eager to spread the word and make
the world a better and more usable place. This is true with students
especially, and we have a great community to share resources and
enthusiasm here, which adds to the fire.

However, it feels like we haven't reached critical mass yet. Business
magazines and other left-brain organizations are realizing and publishing
articles that the user experience is extremely important, and the space is
opening within companies for our field to come in. There seems to be a lot
of "Okay, add user experience to this, but make it quick. I don't want a
high-risk ROI", which leads to a lot of frustration and feeling
undervalued on the side of the IxD. This isn't exactly a conducive
environment to establishing proper procedures for IxD through research and
iteration, which requires time and patience. Drastically changing existing
procedures to accommodate yourself isn't something people like to do when
first joining a company, especially fresh out of college.

Now, this certainly isn't the case everywhere, and there are definitely
examples where it has been done right. Unfortunately, the odds of a recent
graduate finding these places are pretty slim, as they focus on getting
more experienced people through networking, not scouting colleges for
fresh young faces. So the promising young people go to the places they see
available, and are thrown into an existing project with no real hope of
changing the environment to allow them to do their job, much less giving
them enough room to learn and practice.

In all, I think we are on the right track. We have people who are excited
and enthusiastic. We have learning institutions set up that give people a
solid education on how to do their job. Now we just need to get our best
practices out there and known by the greater community. Once the people in
companies recognize that IxD isn't something you can hire a head on and
call it done, but instead requires several iterations of research and user
testing, then implementation of new findings from these tests, we will
have the context available for students to be able to easily apply their
skills and focus on more important things than the evangelizing we've
become so accustomed to.

-Chris Dame
http://theusabilityofthings.com

--- "Jon Kolko [SCAD]" <jkolko at scad.edu> wrote:

I want to share with the list an email I just
received from one of my
students.
...

I'm curious how other educators handle this.
...

I'm also interested to find out how the rest of this
list feels ...

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