Tuesday, May 06, 2008

To design or not to design?

That is the question, indeed. As I’ve said in my profile, I graduated as an industrial designer. However, in my career I’ve never worked with product design. What have I been doing all these years, then? Read on to find out.

When I graduated I landed a job as “designer” for a big multinational company. The job entitled working with digital files of packaging and doing prepress processes. I wasn’t too crazy about it, but I enjoyed the work.

A few months later, I was promoted to head of the department, with one person reporting to me. So now I was in charge not only of the technical aspect of the work, but also of the administrative aspect of the work. Budgets, deadlines, processes, procedures, policies, internal communications, suppliers, staff development, you name it.

And I loved it.

Was it stressful? Hell, yeah! But I really enjoyed that part of the business.

After that job I went on to work in several other companies, doing business or design process related things, but never actually designing. And there came a point when I just admitted that I enjoyed the business aspect of design, more than designing itself. Not only that, I didn’t miss industrial design per se, at all. It could be graphic design or branding.

Where am I going with this, you ask? Bear with me a bit more…

A couple of weeks ago Oprah Winfrey did a show on women who hated their jobs. The special guest was Marcus Buckingham, a career expert from England. Marcus designed a workshop to help people determine a plan to make the best of their professional lives, be it figuring out how to make your job match your strengths, or having the guts to quit it once and for all.

The workshop focuses on figuring out what your strengths and weaknesses are, but seeing these two concepts under a different light, which I thought was very interesting.

Strengths are defined as activities that you do, that invigorate you. How do you know? Because when you’re doing them you get really focused, it’s easy for you to concentrate and you look forward to doing them.

Weaknesses are defined as activities that you do, that drain you. How do you know? Because when you do them, it’s hard to concentrate, you’re always coming up with excuses not to do them, you dread going to work to do them and you feel like they take away your energy.

Pretty easy, huh?

Well, I took the workshop and came to realizations that I was reluctant to admit, but that will help me in the decisions I’m going to make about where I want to go with my career. Maybe I will tell you about those conclusions in another article sometime.

But my point is that just because you graduated from college with a certain degree, doesn’t mean that that’s who you are or what you’re supposed to do for a living. And as Wayne Dyer would say: “Who would trust a seventeen year old with career choices?”.

Maybe I don’t want to be a designer… maybe I want to move to other design related areas like management or teaching… Or maybe I want to try a different design discipline like graphic or interior design, who knows? The future is not written!

And only you can figure out what it is that strengthen or weaken you. I suggest you take the workshop . It’s free!

All the best!

No comments: