I’ve decided to resume the job hunt in earnest, for several reasons. Top-most is that I have a deep (and unsatisfied) desire to work with a company that values design as a vital part of its identity and face, is interested in design innovation, and has a deliberate method for the development of concept through execution.
To say that my company is lacking these things is an understatement, though I don’t think they’d admit to it. I was hired initially for Marketing, but because I have over nine years’ experience as a designer, and they knew that, I find myself 90% of the time, creating graphic design items and doing PowerPoint layouts. It’s not what I wanted for myself, it’s not challenging or interesting anymore, and aside from what I learn on my own, I’m not exposed to much in the way of professional growth. Throw in a dash of sexism and a total confusion of process which leads to undermining by unrelated departments, I think I’m done.
I was done last fall really, but I didn’t know what I didn’t know about job searching in the User Experience Design field then and I did it poorly. In the last two weeks, I’ve gathered my work and put it into a much better (albeit temporary) portfolio and have shopped it around carefully. The biggest lesson I learned last fall, is to keep my information out of the hands of recruiters save for one or two, as the majority of them simply don’t know the field enough to know what is valuable and what isn’t, and I eventually stopped trusting them as a whole. I believe they see most people as potential bonuses or paychecks rather than actual humans who seek a career change. Don’t get me started on the exclusivity requests.
UX is a growing design field to the point that most confuse “User Experience Design” with “User Interface Design”, including recruiters. Put simply, one is bones and one is outfit. I’ve spent my whole professional design life designing the outfits but once I discovered the thrill of the human-centric analytical bones, I fell in love with it. And quite accidentally at that, I was at an e-commerce conference and wound up killing time in a session that discussed UX and that was that. It spoke to me and I knew that’s what I needed to pursue. My boss gave me two large projects that were so UX/UI-centered, they’re now in my portfolio. But that’s all he’s had so far, and doesn’t have plans nor is he able to give me more. He knows it’s what I want, but I’m not sure he knows it feels as urgent as it does.
The difficulty, much like dating while lonely, is resisting the urge to jump at the first outfit who shows interest. Someone contacted me on Slack to ask if I was interested in speaking about a UX position he’s looking to fill. I followed up, twice, he followed up over a week later with an apology that he’d dropped the ball, cc’d his UX-focused coworker…. And then nothing. Silence. That was five days ago. Yesterday I sat there looking at my email and debated a follow up, then I thought about what it was like to wonder about a date who was supposed to call days later but never did (or did with a flimsy excuse). And also, what it’s like to work for a company that drags its feet, is highly unorganized, and leaps before it looks. I deleted the email and decided to be smarter about who I pursue this time around. Much like with people, I believe we are shown early who we’re dealing with, and it’s up to us to see them with clear eyes*.
Dylan and I have plans, places to go, things to do. He’s working at home these days for a startup and really loves it, they keep giving him more hours and training, and he can work anywhere he hangs his hat. I need to be able to work remote from time to time and that means we can go almost anywhere one day. UX is a profitable field and would allow for so much more freedom than we have now, our debts would be paid, we’d have options for travel and various life upgrades. That is of course, not the main draw but it certainly doesn’t hurt. As it stands, for example, I’d be looking at an average of about a 30% income bump, so… yes, I’ll pick up the check.
So tonight, I will four-wheel drive home in our freshly-fallen 9” of lake effect snow and plop down in front of job sites to see what’s out there, and pray my one year of UX & UI experience is enough to get me in a door. Wish me luck, a change is badly needed.
* If I’d have dismissed Dylan based on our first dating attempt, I’d have royally missed out. So not everything is black and white…