Bash Isai, a veteran designer who pursued UQ's MID joined us today, and I thought it would be good to consider what I reflected on while hearing the Q&A.
A point of interest to me was that when the class in general was asked... no one said they wanted to be a UX designer or interaction designer, a fact I know isn't true because I've spoken to coursemates and heard of their aspirations before. I think the quietness from this portion of the session was because people weren't expecting the question. Personally, I didn't raise my hand either as I was afraid of becoming Mad Man, but an equally valid reason could have been that in a room full of people who had different balances to what they bring to the table, can anyone truly be said to be suitable to be one? What is UX?
On a lighter note, I posit that it's far more enjoyable to sink into the background unnoticed in general, the primary reason why my complete outfit is always entirely black. I've even gone to such lengths as to have 5 sets of the same outfit, like a childrens cartoon character, opening their wardrobe to see just duplicates of the same thing.
Recruiters, Apparently the Best Friend You Haven't Had
Bash highlighted the need to have a network of recruiters - including the fact that you have to have a personal relationship with a recruiter... I suppose an intimidating consideration, perhaps the reason I've failed to obtain any positons I've applied to in the past year is because I've been trying to do it all myself?
But a relationship based on trust like so... it's hard to come by. It's hard to stay consistently concerned about a large number of people, particularly when you're interacting with dozens of people every day. There's only so many tribesman you can have. Does your recruiter get elevated above other people, simply because through them, you become able to be "a guy" from the phrase "I know a guy who knows a guy" to someone?
For interviews... he said to not just accept a position a recruiter gives you talk to them, show your portfolio and so on... so perhaps its a whole discussion... This portion I could agree with, you're showing off what you can do, everything needs to be on the table, or you're going to be undervalued. It certainly feels a little depressing that finding the right place to get a job involves a middleman however.
Figure Out How Much You Need Before Job Search
I would argue this extends beyond the monetary value you require from the job, it's the experience you're looking for, and also the potential morals you have to compromise. How far should one be willing to go if asked to do something questionable?
Plenty of people feel the ability to live comfortably merits not thinking too hard about the ethical implications of their job, I think. Bash mentions how people value their 9 - 5's, so it's not a stretch that there's individuals whose entire lives are go in, fix a problem, address the challenge, and leave the office at 5 pm. Sure, there's care and effort going into creating whatever that thing is, but depending on the situation there isn't enough time in the world to consider edge case scenarios that lead to extreme harm... and as a result many creators are reactive about reducing harm, rather than proactive.
You're Not Good Enough if You're Not Hired
I can't find any reason to disagree with this even when Bash claimed it was untrue. Whenever I apply to something and get rejected - my default reaction is just that "I must have done something wrong or made a mistake somewhere".
There's a standard I'm not reaching perhaps? But how can one know the standards? It feels like when people think fo UX Designers, they want either software engineers who read medium.com, or someone to design their poster or website. Expectations are different everywhere and it feels like its possible to burn out just trying to keep up sometimes.
"What Can You Do For Me?"
Some would say the Interview question to always expect. Bash says you need to be able to say "I'm gonna make your life easier"... but to me it just feels like for this generation - it's no longer about raising the plants right so they bear fruit, the fruit needs to be ripe and of a good quality before you even see it - when it comes to having a job. All the questions revolve around how the new burdens can contribute a larger bottom line for the company, and it's not a collaborative effort where the company benefits from new ideas and perspectives coming in.
Putting that aside, a job can be great, but there's only so much ... how do I say this politely... shenanigans, one should put up with. It's possible the people at your workplace might not be the best to work with, I've had experiences with colleagues using slurs or spitting at the floor when I walk into the room, back in Malaysia. In this case, what can I actually do for the company? It would be wearing me down just to have interactions with such people, let alone completing complex tasks.
There's also the reality that unpaid internships seem to be the dream of every other manager or recruiter. "You're working for exposure / experience" is frequently touted at places that offer neither of those things in sufficient quantity, where someone joining the team actually costs the recruit money. Some may argue these internships are an opportunity to build relationships and get people to like you so that you get future opportunities.
A damaging mentality mirroring an abusive relationship. "Hey, they treat me like garbage and my life isn't improving, but maybe some day it'll get better, and sticking with them all this while will have been worth it".
"You Need to Identify What It Is That Makes You Unique"
Before one even gets the job, there's an expectation that they know what to do, which is fine. But uniqueness... cannot be fixed or improved on. One can improve their skills, but not be unique (one of a kind). I'd say I'm not unique, plenty of people can do what I do better. In fact, one can easily find all the contents of this post in the collective minds of the class, there's just a hesitance to share the ideas because of a fear of judgment.
A response I wrote to a prompt on bothersome technology recently made me consider - perhaps in the future once our lives are worth even less to society, before we become a financial drain on the government, we'll have the option to euthanise ourselves after completing our education. I would take the option, because my response to "What makes you unique enough to continue to be alive?" is "nothing". The same arguably applies to jobs as well, I would respond the same way, and by not having the job, am one step closer toward the edge of the metaphorical bridge.
People Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEETs) aren't working toward a job, and as a result, aren't contributing to tribe. Therefore, tribe logic dictates they do not belong to the tribe. They must be removed from tribe. ... The logic that usually wins is the perspective "people with no jobs just shouldn't be allowed to exist" (whether in society or in general). An almost inhumane logic, but not an uncommon opinion.
A depressing realisation, but it's good to be reminded that this is how things are, and there's likely not much to be done to change it.
An activity was part of this talk, everyone had to write 50 words about themselves, then cut to 20, then to 13, 6, 3, and 1, with the one word supposedly representing oneself the best. I would prefer not to go into too much detail on the activity as a whole as I can't say I'm proud of the description I came up with, but unintentionally ended up with "teaching" as my word.
There's teaching myself, improving what I can do by comparing my work to examples. But there's also teaching others... by having explanations I would usually give myself when describing something, and saying them out loud. There's more to it than that of course, but all that makes it quite complex, so we'll leave it at that. This second round was an opportunity to say something once again... but in truth I just thought "teaching" sounded too pretentious to share.
Selling Oneself as a Brand
In a way, everyone is an influencer now, with their own personal brand (representing what they can do). One might not be unique, but perhaps the illusion of being that can be obtained when a certain image of ones self and skills is crafted. Bash says people might not want what you sell (of yourself), and I can imagine that - different people have different jigsaw puzzles, and simply forcing you in when you're not the right fit has some messy consequences.
But on the bright side, the talk about influencers and portfolios... as well as how portfolios are clickbait... reminded me of some of my recent illustrations. A lot of people judge the sum total of your work from a single project, the same way that some people might judge all my art just by the thumbnail of one of my illustrations. as a result, recently I've been working on making almost all of them have... a different flair. They all do something specific, but have recognisable similarities.
Some are based on prompts, some are creatures, others are attempts to try out patterning or shading and still more I just drew candidly. Each has a different function, but because I made them, it can be said they're all "my work"... and I can leverage them to show off the best ones... something I'm actively doing, since even here, these are a selection, rather than every illustration I've shared in the last week on instagram.
So, if I'm influencing peoples opinion of my art by sharing it online, perhaps every time I pull up old projects on my mobile phone, I'm doing the same thing? Perhaps the presentation of projects I've designed is the same way, I show off the cool parts, or at least what worked, and discuss what didn't (arguably the more interesting part). Now the person around me has a better idea of what I can create, and I'm more likely to both... leave an impression, and demonstrate some skills. I've "influenced" them, and now they're a fan of the brand, possibly willing to buy (hire) the product (me).
I suppose there's been a lot to think about here... and with that all in mind, I'll get to reviewing whats coming up next, more thoughts on the group work we got done over today.
Thought Train and Carriages
- Going over what we discussed as a group with a fine toothed come might be worth bullet points instead of paragraphs, cause the charter is already its own document
- team charter - personal thoughts on logic for what worked
- spirit animal megazord
- prep material and ideas
- some thought on collaboration styles and cooperation
- finishing up refinements for the project inspiration...