February 6, 2019No Comments

Why to Seek Unfamiliarity in Your Next Full-Time Job

As of when I am writing this, I am starting my first day at my new job tomorrow. I’ll be starting as a Product Designer at Dave, a financial tech company based in Los Angeles.

While looking for the next place to call home for my work life, culture was one of the biggest deciding factors for me. I believe that working with folks you can also call your friends outside of a work setting makes for the best outcome and work ethic at a company.

However, outside of culture, I was also looking for a role that was slightly out of my grasp and knowledge of prior experience. I was looking for something unfamiliar and that I hadn’t yet mastered. I’ve learned over my time in the industry that the best way to stay happy and challenged at a job is to work on things you haven’t had the exact experience with. It keeps you on your toes, keeps you learning, and keeps you yearning to get even better at what you do. You quickly realize you aren’t a master at your field, yet you can be a master at managing and improving how you approach each of these unique experiences.

Dave for me was a great step in the right direction for my career. At Dave I’ll be working on designing the future of finance as someone who has never designed specifically for this field, and for a change my job won’t only rely on what is looked at on screens. I’ll be working on designing real life experiences from brand to packaging and more. On top of that, I’m the first designer to be full-time at the company besides the CPO. As a result I’ll be working on developing a process around how design works with other parts of the company and probably even hiring and leading other designers as we begin to grow the team.

How this applies to your career and how you work can go many different ways, but I think the overall guidance of looking for something you feel confident yet unfamiliar with is a good place to start. The exciting part of life are the times we apply ourselves to overcome new obstacles, leading to a better you. Having the foundational skills for the job to rely on while using the rest of your skillset to learn and adapt I have found to be the best teacher in life, no matter how many mentors I have or books I read.

September 7, 2018No Comments

Finding Purpose in Life Outside of Your Work

Design, code, and the pursuit of being better at each was all I lived and breathed in college. It’s all I ever thought about, to the point of me daydreaming in class about what I was working on the night before and how I would continue it later that day. I sacrificed time with friends, with my significant other, and even time for my health because of how much I wanted the goals I had in life.

This is incredibly important still, and should be for you as well, but it’s in a completely different way and balance than before.

Back then I would wish I had made time to work on music, or to go to the gym and focus on well-being, or to pick up a new hobby, but I wouldn’t act on those feelings. I’d brush them off and put my head back down and continue to grind away at design and code. They’d remain afterthoughts, pushed to the back of my mind while still being a subconscious yearning to pursue.

Almost a year has gone by since I felt the way I did above.

I’ve had some career changes that shifted my free time from wanting to work on design to needing decompression from a full-time design job. I started to get worried (and still do sometimes to be honest) that I wasn’t a “productive” person anymore. I didn’t come home anxious to work on my next side project and ship something on my own, living on the constant high of being that person that never sleeps.

I slowly but surely transferred my free time to finding other pursuits in life that didn’t revolve around the same topic as my full-time work. I was able to explore other mediums of creativity, expression, and decompression that weren’t design or code.

An appropriate quote I came across in the book Rest:

If your work is your self, when you cease to work, you cease to exist.

Rest by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

This quote made me take a step back and think about how much my life was reliant on the outcome of my work. I felt that if I didn’t have my work or what I do full-time, I didn’t really have much to offer and wanted to re-evaluate why and where this came from.

It turns out that I got my confidence from my work. I was confident in my ability to design, code, and illustrate for clients at a high level, was proud of the amount of income I had gotten to, what that income was able to buy me, and how proud I was of myself. While these are all very much valid and present feelings, I’ve been able to shift that mentality and confidence to a more widespread set of skills and personality traits.

With four albums under my belt I have a creative outlet I didn’t have before. I recognize I’m compassionate, understanding, and a great support system to others and have invested more time for my friends and coworkers to take that into account. I’ve been working out and eating better for 6 months straight and am much more comfortable with how I dress and how I feel about my body. I’m starting to learn about finances and on my way to being able to buy my first place within a year or two. I play video games almost every day and love the time I have to forget about everything else in the world. I just moved and have invested in making my apartment what I want to call home and express myself.

I’ve always thought I had a balance in life in the past, but am recently realizing the divide and bringing the ratio back to 50:50 between life and work. I’ve been able to find a deeper purpose and meaning for what I want out of life and better visualize and encompass the approach to my goals and strengths.

Think about the quote above and think about how you balance priorities in personal and professional life. They can even be working towards similar goals, but it’s worth thinking about how you currently spend and block off your free time vs your work time.

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