Tag Archives: career

Six Things I’m Grateful For For My Six Years at Zynga

6. Facilities, Security, and all the departments that have kept HQ running smoothly.

As a person who likes things clean and organized, I have much respect for the women and men who keep the place pleasant to be and work in. They are the true unsung heroes in making things run as smoothly as possible at HQ.

At the start of every morning, I already see the cleaning staff working hard, doing their routine tasks before most of the employees show up. They continue to keep the place looking good throughout the day, regardless of it being a regular workday or after a company party. It constantly makes me much more conscious to do my part to keep the place clean and leave as little extra work for the crew to do as possible.

Even though I don’t know the reach of Facilities’ operations in the building, I know that there are countless behind-the-scenes decisions and actions every day that make our work life more comfortable, allowing us to do our job. On just the things that we could see, thank you for coordinating all the massive desk moves over the years (and doing it efficiently), for responding to our fancy requests for standing desks, keyboard tray attachments, and “Never mind I don’t like it” keyboard tray detachment, for our seemingly conflicting requests to turn up the AC or turn up the heater, and for making possible big (and small) events that we host from time to time (or every other day).

And the security team, the group of people who are often seen quietly doing rounds around the office. I don’t know what you actually do during rounds, but I shouldn’t know anyway, except that I know it has kept the company, the building, the employees, and the equipment safe.

These departments make up the foundation of our awesome HQ. For these and many more reasons, thank you.

5. The culture to experiement

Whether it is experimenting with our products, with our process, or for myself, I have come to embrace the spirit to experiment, to fail fast and learn. As much as I prefer to develop habits, establish routines, and do things a particular way, I have learned that in order to grow and adapt to change, one must experiment and try new things, at least from time to time.

It is well known that we test the heck out of a lot of things in our products. If the cost was cheaper, we would have tested every single pixel and second of our players’ experience. But the fact that we don’t also taught me to be smart about what we test, to recognize that some things in life are more important than others, and I/we have the power to choose what those things are for ourselves.

At work, there is always something new happening. It may be an org change or a new production process or a shift in happy hour scheduling. I’m sure this happens at other companies as well, but, even though this is my first corporate job, I feel that this happens a lot more frequently than other companies. It took me two or three years to catch on; I had learned that at Zynga, practically everything is temporary. In a way, I see everything as an experiment, and if it doesn’t perform well with the employees, they’ll change it up and try something else until something sticks. It lets everyone in the company be more innovative in finding solutions that work best. It taught me be more open to new ideas and be less set in my ways. It’s the Zynga way, and we’re constantly getting better and better at it.

Similarly, on a smaller scale, I have my own experiments with the way I work. Over the years, I have developed and refined a routine and process that work with my work schedule and with my team (This personal routine that I’ve spent years piecing together is actually one of the things I will terribly miss after I leave.) And when my routine or process stop working and start affecting my performance, I experiment with other methods or schedules or apps to find a better way to work. And I feel that the way Zynga is run allows me to do these little experiments on my own so I can get the most out of myself.

It’s this spirit of not being afraid to experiment that has kept Zynga going, that has made working at Zynga infinitely interesting, and that I will carry with me in my personal life and hopefully in my next career adventure. For these and many other more reasons, thank you.

4. The gym

I must recognize the little family from the Zynga gym and mention how much I owe my health to this place and the people who run it.

I was already exercising regularly before the Zynga gym, but I was mainly doing my own thing, piecing together what little I learned in elective PE classes in college and from articles I found online. Through the classes I took with Jodi, JP, Dan, and a few others at the Zynga gym, I added so many new exercises and stretches into my repertoire. Specifically, the care they took to correct my stance and position in class led me to become more aware of my body posture, and effectively make me feel more confident. I still experiment and put together my own program, but the things I learned from them gave me a much better understanding of what is important, correct, and safe.

During the three-month Tough Mudder-themed competition at the gym, I adopted a particular diet that they recommended, and I have been on it ever since. Even though I am still experimenting with parts of it and making it work for my health goals, the basic philosophy of the diet is solid and genuine putting me on the right path to a healthier life.

The availability and access to massages, reflexology, and acupuncture were also great. Having these services reminds me how stressed out we often get and how important it is to take care of our health.

Finally, I had the opportunity to 1) travel to Nicaragua and 2) stayed in a “boutique hotel” near the beach for 3) a weeklong surf trip with Derek, JP and a few other Zyngites. It was a taste of a different lifestyle that I never thought I could experience. It was also one of the catalysts for my world trip a few years later.
Since many of my coworkers casually pointed out my dedication and consistent workout schedule, I often ask myself whether I spend too much time at the gym, potentially feeling guilty about being away from the office. But I would often reason (with myself) that 1) I care for and am actively taking responsibility for my health, 2) exercising definitely helps me relieve stress for the day, allowing me to come back refreshed and do better work, and 3) stepping away from my desk and from the problem of the day often unlock the solution while I’m running or doing sets. So with both personal and professional benefits, I would say my time at the gym is actually a good investment.

The Zynga gym has helped me grow for the past few years, both physically and mentally. For these and many more reasons, thank you.

3. The food

Zynga Culinary has done an amazing job providing food for the people at HQ. I am always impressed by both the variety and the amount of food it produces every day, not just for regular meals, but also for catering special meetings and events.
I have yet to consider myself a foodie, but I am really picky about what I eat, especially after I adopted the diet from the Zynga Tough competition. But that is totally okay, because Culinary offers the awesome Nirvana line, where the dishes are simple, nutritious, and clean. It’s my default line at lunch; I rarely have to look at the daily menu email because the Nirvana line’s weekly menu is more or less the same, just the way I like it.

It’s a little ironic/unusual that when people rave about the food at Zynga, they’re referring to the fancy or hearty dishes at the Expo line or the main line, or the dangerously good desserts they bring out from time to time, but I love the food at Zynga because of the healthy choices that they offer. I’m even more impressed that they are able to offer the healthy choices along with the “foodie” choices. They could easily and exclusively cater to people’s cravings and sweet tooth by making just deliciously heavy dishes and desserts, but they have people’s health-conscious lifestyles in mind and decided to provide for both, and I admire and appreciate that.

Like the regular meals, the food stocked in the kitchens near the offices is also wonderful. Again, there’s a wide variety of guilty foods along with healthier snacks, with me naturally gravitating toward the healthy stuff. And even then, it was mainly just one item for breakfast: first, it was greek yogurt, and after I began my diet, it was hard-boiled eggs. I feel so fortunate to have breakfast consistently taken care of and provided every day, that even when the batch of hard-boiled eggs that week turned out to be less than peelable, I remind myself of this first world problem and am grateful that there’s even food at all to begin with.

Making all this food and coordinating the operation of it all is not an easy or simple task. I don’t know what and how much they do behind the scenes (a lot, I’m sure), but from what I’ve seen at front of house, where I see the cooks dodge the smoke from the grill of sizzling salmon filets or gourmet burgers, or the servers pace around the floor carrying large trays of hot food, or the staff push shelves of plates and silverware or heavy machines to different spots across the always-rearranging cafe floor, these folks are just incredible, incredible people.

And even though the scale of the Friday brunch service has been reduced over the years, it remains to be something I look forward to every week. After I leave Zynga, I will continue to think about it and miss it, along with all the free food I would have every week. So Culinary, for these and many more reasons, thank you.

2. My managers and the creative teams

I came to Zynga as a graphic/web designer working on UI, became an asset manager, then worked my way from associate user experience designer to senior user experience designer. Every step of the way, I had the support and guidance of my direct managers all in their uniquely wonderful ways.

JC is the most positive, zen, and nurturing person I have ever met. Combined with his expertise in user experience and games, a brief chat with him would make me feel optimistic and motivated for the rest of the day.

Walter is a very creative guy, always coming up with ideas and helping to make my job easier. Very friendly and approachable, he would often crack jokes (and plenty of puns), keeping the mood in the office light and easy-going.

Gunthar’s energetic presence often gave me the motivation and confidence I needed to get the best ideas out of my brain and make them real. Along with the rest of the design team, he welcomed me into the world of professional design and set me up for significant growth and experience in a short amount of time, thanks to the numerous hands-on firefighting exercises that was ZDC.

In addition to already being a talented designer, Spencer was a thoughtful and dedicated manager. He cared a lot about the success and happiness of his designers, and worked with each one of us to take advantage of our strengths and offered practical advice to tackle our weaknesses.

Rhi, Rhi, Rhi. She has done so much for me, so much so that I cannot describe in a few sentences. I am so lucky that she saw potential in me as a designer when I joined the ZDC team, and had since assigned me multiple features and projects that she knew I could both handle and challenge myself with, essentially training me to become an ever better designer.

Nick M. and I share a sharp eye for pixel precision, and it made me feel more normal to have someone as detail-oriented (or more!) as I am. As both my colleague and then manager, Mr. Linens inspired me every day to always stay on my toes and keep fighting the good (design) fight.

Nick G. has only been my manager for less than two months, but in that short time, he’s managed to light up something inside everyone on the design team, motivating us to continue the success of our work and bring more delight to our players. I wish I had met him earlier so I could learn more from him.

Along with these great managers were the teams of truly talented and creatively diverse artists and designers that I had the privilege of working with. Having coworkers in the same discipline just made the entire experience much more valuable, educational, enjoyable. There were so many whom I admire, adore, and wish I could have worked with more. I earnestly hope our paths will cross in the future.

For these and many more reasons, thank you.

1. Everyone who has ever worked for Zynga.

Whether you were my managers, fellow designers, squad mates, teammates, division mates, or fellow Zyngites at HQ or around the world, thank you. Even if we have never met, there’s probably two or three degrees of separation where your good work has influenced my job, and vice versa.

As I mentioned in my letter of resignation, it honestly never ceases to amaze me how many talented people have worked at this company. And I have been fortunate enough to work with so many of them. I learned so much about business, tech, culture, processes, etc. from everyone over the years that it inevitably made me a more well-rounded and thoughtful designer.

In addition, practically all of the people I’ve worked with have been incredibly kind and generous, both with their hearts and with their time. I was taught to do things I would not have thought I would do in my career, like running stats queries, pushing code on Hudson, and working with outsourced vendors. I was also taught things that helped me become a better designer, like preparing specs and assets for delivery, owning the design for many projects and features, and drawing flows and wireframes that everyone could understand.

And specifically, I am extremely grateful that so many people have been patient with me and putting up with my neuroses and special ways of doing things. I love working in an environment where everyone’s unique quirks are embraced as strengths and used to the advantage of the team and the product.

One of the reasons I look forward to work every morning is to be in the company of such great people. To sneak a semi-pun, it is pretty much working with friends. But with my departure, all I could do is to cherish the unbelievable experience and think about all the amazing friends I’ve made along the way.

For these and endlessly more reasons, thank you.

2287 Characters for 2287 Days of Zynga

Dear XXXX,

After more than six years at Zynga, I have decided that it is time for me to move on and pursue other interests. Please accept this message as my resignation from Zynga as a Senior Experience Designer. My last day of employment is Friday, December 18, 2015. I plan to spend a period of time after my departure to explore my options and career paths.

I want to thank you for the support you have given me already in the short time that we got to work together. I am also grateful for the guidance you have provided to the design team to continue to be motivated and inspired in doing our best work and delivering the best experience for our players.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank Zynga for the incredible experience I have had for the past six years. During this time, I have learned an unbelievable amount, not just for my skill set as a designer, but also with product management, data analysis, game design, engineering frameworks, market research, business strategies, teamwork and collaboration, production processes, culture building, vision- and goal-setting, startup mentality, work-life balance, and so on. I am leaving this company with a lot more life and career experience than I could have ever imagined.

I am also thankful and amazed every day by the amount of talented people who work at this company. I have witnessed many times that when the right talents come together with a clear, common vision, greatness and success follow. I’m immensely honored to have worked with so many of these talented individuals in my journey through PetVille, Studio Platinum, ZDC, MSC, and the With Friends division. But I think I am most grateful, fortunate, and inspired to have the privilege to work for and with my direct managers throughout the years, all of whom have been unbelievably kind, approachable, smart, and enlightening, a combination of which I believe is rare.

For the remainder of my time here, I plan to continue my role and workload while preparing for a knowledge transfer with the design team. Please let me know if there’s anything else I can do to ensure the smoothest transition.

It has been an honor, a privilege, and a thrill to work at Zynga.

With endless gratitude,

Ivan W. Lam
Senior Experience Designer, Words With Friends

“First Post” for Live Your Legend

I’m a single, thirty-year-old Chinese-American male and I’m a trained visual designer living in San Francisco, with professional experience in print, web, UI and UX design. I’m also interested in math and geometry, astronomy, technology, front-end programming, puzzles, films and story-telling, organizing, learning things, education, languages, traveling, nutrition, fitness, the Olympics, the environment and sustainability, equality and social rights, humanitarian efforts, and self-improvement.

This post is prompted by the Live Your Legend movement. I’m doing this because I want to figure out from which of my interests I should make a career out of next. I still enjoy graphic design and experience design, but perhaps I can pair that with a subject I’m passionate about and find immense value in my life. Or I could do something totally different. I am trusting my heart to know what’s right.

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Always Keep Learning

Good Advice

By my senior year of college, I was beginning to keep up with the graphic design industry through blogs and podcasts. Occasionally, I would come across interviews of well-known designers talking about their design philosophies, including advice for new designers coming out of college. One advice that kept coming up from different designers was to always keep learning, even after school.

In their experience, sometimes newly graduated designers have the tendency to assume they know everything just because they completed their training at school and thought that they could take on any project and immediately excel at it. Even with just a few years of real-world experience myself, I would agree with the general sentiment as well. There is already so much I had discovered and experienced between graduation and now that I look at new grads the same way, sort of like how most adults feel about teenagers: foolish and naive. At the same time, I’m still relatively young (fortunately), so I’m sure more experienced professionals would probably feel similar about me (and rightly so).

So Many Things to Learn

Regardless of what stage you are in life, the important thing is to always have the appetite to learn. The subject matter could be an extension of what you studied or what your job needs, like new software and tools, or it could be a side passion of yours that you now have more time to explore, like cooking or new sports. It could even be as simple as consuming information, like following certain blogs, podcasts, or talks. Whatever it is, I believe that learning new things helps one become a more well-rounded member of society.

For me, since the last time I had been in school, I continued to teach myself programming languages, partly to set up my website for my career and partly for fun; I continued to work on improving my health by finding the right exercises and diet for my goals; I started learning new sports like surfing and snowboarding; I tried out different language learning programs in an attempt to be fluent in more foreign languages; and I explored my dancing abilities by joining local flash mob groups and performing in public spaces and planned events, including a wedding.

New Opportunities

The benefits of learning something new goes beyond just that thing you’re learning. It opens you up to opportunities to learn more things. Earlier in my college career, the teacher from one of my design classes shared with us a student discount for the subscription to the graphic design magazine Communication Arts. Subscribing to it led me to an article about the online personality Ze Frank. I became a fan of his creative, multimedia work, particularly his year-long vlog The Show. One of his episodes mentioned attending South by Southwest (SXSW), so I subscribed to the SXSW podcast and discovered a session covering the productivity methodology Getting Things Done (GTD). It revolutionized the way I work, and I now approach life with a better sense of purpose.

Also through Communication Arts, I encountered the article about Stefan Sagmeister’s class that focused on emotional connection through design. This helped shape the idea for the “thesis” project “Why Don’t We Care?” for one of my senior design classes. In the project, I also referenced Ze Frank and The Show.

At a higher level, I probably would have learned about some of these things in other ways, but it’s the progression of discoveries and the potential for serendipity that make this experience special and exciting. It also probably would have taken longer to discover.

Learning is Ongoing

It is worth noting that learning is always ongoing. New content may surface, existing information may become less important, and longstanding opinion may change. This is overall a good thing, because it usually means whatever you’re learning is improving itself, and by keeping up with it, you are improving as well.

This is important to me because 1) I often feel like I know the least out of everyone in most situation, and 2) I’m naturally curious and want to learn as much as I can about things that have the most of my attention. The fact that learning is ongoing sort of levels the playing field so those who are behind can try to catch up, and it helps satisfy my curiosity and feed my mind with more and newer content.

See

2, 3, 7, 11.

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Early Start

I had been interested in graphic design at a very young age. I remember taking a stab at typography in the first grade when I used the gridded lines from a spare school workbook to draw out the letters of some phrase like “HAPPY NEW YEAR” to put up on the classroom wall. I spent a good amount of time on it (as much time as a six-year-old can) and was really proud of the quality. But when I showed it to my teacher in front of the class, she appreciated my work but said it could be better. After looking at it with fresh eyes, I agreed. It was clear I struggled with a few letters. I had trouble deciding how far out the tail of the R would go: having it flush with the curve would make it look top-heavy, having it go out just one grid block farther would make it look huge. Another dilemma was determining how wide the diagonal strokes of the Y and W should reach: having them closer together would force narrower strokes and look inconsistent; having them out more would make the letters too wide. These were the challenges I faced as a six-year-old, and I loved it. I knew then already that I want to keep doing stuff like this as much as I can.

Life with Design

Since then, I had always done something related to design. When my family moved and I got my own room for the first time, I would rearrange the furniture many times a year. When I learned what the Olympics was, I started to become fascinated by the logos, marketing campaigns, pictograms, and the designs of the medal, the torch and the cauldron from each Games. When I learned web design in the sixth grade, I created many personal websites, redesigning them every so often and incorporating new visual techniques and coding patterns I had learned through the years. When I was a senior in high school, I was the Design Editor for the school yearbook and touched practically every page, stressing over every square inch.

So at the height of my design major in my junior year of college, I was in my element and really enjoying it. I got to work with different physical and digital mediums, and learned a lot about design philosophy (ex. the grid and the golden ratio), history (ex. the Bauhaus and de Stijl movements) and figures (ex. Josef Muller-Brockmann and Stefan Sagmeister, who are my two favorite designers, for very different reasons). With so much knowledge and coursework thrown at me, it was a challenge to do everything and do it well. But because this was my passion (and I was a pro of the all-nighter), the thrill and joy that come out of doing something I loved outweighed any stress and fatigue that I experienced.

Moving to UX

In the five-plus years I’ve been at my current job, I went from a purely graphic/UI designer to a UI-slash-UX designer, with an ever-growing lean towards the latter. I owe this partly to the experience I gained from working with product managers, addressing business goals in addition to making things pixel-perfect. I feel like my design consciousness had gone from the surface level of stressing over visual details to a deeper level of examining the nuances of modern human experiences. It’s opened up a new field of design for me to learn and to grow. It’s more than just driving less clicks or taps, or showing less copy or secondary content on a particular screen; it’s about honestly answering “Why do we want this?”, “How does this help our goals?”, and “Is this the best solution for this specific problem?” In addition to questions about colors, fonts, and sizes, there are now a greater number and wider range of questions for me to consider. As a result, the trick now is to ask the right ones that get to the core of the problem. When that is done correctly, I am rewarded with the clearest, simplest, and presumably the best answers.

Design in My Future

Even though my interest in design is slowly shifting from visual to experiential, I still enjoy all aspects of design. That’s because fundamentally, design is about problem solving. It just happens to be a special form where it mixes logic (which I love) with emotion and experience, and sometimes something visual. It was the case when I drew out “HAPPY NEW YEAR” on a grid; it was the case when I co-created a convertible cardboard bench/table-and-stools (called the “Collabench”) for a design student showcase in college, and it was the case when I adapted and optimized a mobile game at work to the web platform.

I used to worry that my skills and interest in graphic design would become irrelevant as I get older. But with this slow shift to UX, I know now that what I really love and am good at is solving problems, and graphic design just happened to be the vehicle in which I did it. So as long as there are problems in the world, I will have a way to make a living doing what I love.

See

4, 5, 11, 15, 17, 22.

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Don’t Reinvent the Wheel.

I was cleaning out old boxes at home and saw my notes from when I just graduated from college and began preparing for my job search. Seeing them reminded me of how I went through countless iterations of résumé layout designs. Since many of my school assignments were to redesign logos, websites, and other works, I naturally thought I needed to do the same with résumés. I know now that it was excessive; of all the places I should exhibit my design sensibilities and talent, the résumé was hardly the first.

With the portfolio, however, I had more freedom to express myself, though that may be a challenge as well. Ever since I was young, I learned to code web pages from scratch. Using the same approach, I tried to build my web site and portfolio by hand-coding everything so I could also display my skills outside of visual design. I created many custom one-off functions and scripts even though there were better versions out there. In the end, I realized that the necessary code was more complex than I could handle, so I had to leverage the existing web-building platforms out there to take care of the back-end and allow myself to focus on the visual portion of the site.

Now with a few years into my career, I’ve learned that the best solutions to tasks like these should have a balance between being effective and being efficient. As a UX designer in a gaming company, I always try to approach problems by critically looking at the fundamental issue and work my way up to a low-cost, high-reward solution. Sometimes, that may be seem excessive for the more minor problems, where the best solution may just be the obvious one. But this approach more accurately determines whether I need to come up with an innovative solution, or if I could use existing, proven work and save time from reinventing the wheel.

See

11, 18, 25.

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In the past few years, I’ve strived to be a more positive person, and in doing so, I’ve become very thankful (and more frequently) for practically everything that exists in the world. In addition to the usual things most people are thankful for, like family and health, which are important, I am also thankful for the experiences and opportunities that I’ve had in my life so far. I am glad to have grown up in a culture of many freedoms, including independent thinking, and I’m glad to have had the exposure earlier in my childhood to a different culture where such freedoms are limited or lacking.

I am thankful to have the ability to live independently in a place and in a city that fit my needs and style. I am thankful for where I’ve gotten in my young career so far, to be working in a profession that I’m passionate about and to do it with people I enjoy working with. And I am thankful for the opportunity, the resources, the support, and the courage to go on a little world trip the way I wanted and return safely and with the desire to do more trips like this in the future.

My trip around the world has shown me more clearly the things I am most thankful for and the things I’ve taken for granted. Honestly, there are lists of sublists of things to thank, which I will share at another time, but the general categories are: my gear, the people, the places, and the countless events that make the trip go the way it did. So, as I’ve mentioned before, it’s practically everything.

Being thankful reminds me of all the things I have had and have experienced in my life up to this point as well as the things that I can have and experience in the future. Seeing how far I’ve gotten so far gives me hope that anything is possible; it makes me optimistic and it motivates me about all the other things I could accomplish and experience.

See

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15 11 15 21 8 13 23 12 1 8 18 19 4 13 3 14 23 26 26 11 8 19

  1. I’ve always loved num_ers.
  2. They _onsistently make the most sense to me and bring order to my life.
  3. I love how such a simple concept creates so many _ifferent properties (Primes, Pythagorean, Pascal, just to name a basic few).
  4. Numbers equ_lizes _nd democr_tizes society.
  5. The more one understands powers, the more power and opportunities they get in li_e.
  6. Numbers connect with nature and science, like chemistry and physics, a_ain, to name the very basic few.
  7. It’s practically a universal language, as in a language of t_e universe!
  8. So is g_om_try, which is pack_d with numb_rs and probably how I got int_r_st_d in graphic d_sign.
  9. I’m a _unkie of numbers, and I’ve got time, quantities, rankings, lists, etc. on my mind.
  10. I group life’s moments in bus arrival estimates, the lunch hour, tabatas, wee_ends, seasons, birthdays, Olympics, anniversaries, etc.
  11. I design with screen reso_utions, tab_e ce__s, pixe_s, dynamic spacing, etc.
  12. I _onitor weights, sets, reps, percentages, and averages, etc.
  13. I ask i_ my head, “How old will I be/was I whe_ they’re my age?” a_d “How old do I _eed to be to be twice, or thrice, or half, or a third of their age?
  14. I com_are gains and losses against inflation and tax rates.
  15. _t’s an As_an stereotype that _ fully l_ve up to.
  16. Similarly, I l_ve puzzles.
  17. They work my brain and make me feel _uite smart.
  18. I enjoy the jou_ney f_om total myste_y to “It all makes sense!”
  19. Puzzle_ are ju_t a form of problem-_olving.
  20. Being a UI/UX designer is an excellen_ example of _ha_.
  21. And life is all about problem-sol_ing.
  22. I naturally try to solve life’s problems _ith numbers as much as I can.
  23. I often s_spect that I might be a robot.
  24. At the same time, I know that some things e_ceeds what math and formulas are capable of.
  25. And _et I still tr_.
  26. I just have to find the balance between numbers and pu__les.

See

11, 14, 15.

What Am I Doing? (March 2010)

Debbie Millman

For a few hours last week, I managed to return to the land of graphic design and AIGA when I attended a lecture by Debbie Millman at Adobe SF about Why We Buy and Why We Brand. It was a nice step-back look at the greater design world outside of Zynga and see where I stand in the grand scheme of things.

iPad

The new gadget just became available for pre-order two days ago, and I believe I will be getting one. I just haven’t decided which one to get, but I have decided that I will decide after it comes out and hear what other people are saying.

Dreams and Work

I don’t know if this happens at later stages in one’s career, but I find myself re-evaluating my career path more or less on a regular basis as I weed out elements of a career that I don’t enjoy and include those that I do.

Flush.

The Process of Making Progress

You can accomplish a lot if you work a lot in a short amount of time. You can probably also accomplish the same amount if you spread that out over a bit longer period of time.

Or to put it another way, you can accomplish a lot with less people but they have to work really hard. And you can accomplish the same amount with more people and they would be working comfortably hard.

The question is, which way do you prefer to work on a regular basis?

Flush.

Wisdom and Experience

I don’t know if anyone else has seriously thought about this, but for those who are just starting out in the working world and adult life, have you ever wonder what people who are older than you wish they knew when they were our age?

The expression “Youth is wasted on the young.” is often mentioned to make the point that older people (whom I’ll refer to as “Wiser People”) know what life is all about (at least more so than us youngins). I, at the same time, often look back and wish I could redo some things in my teenage and college years, had I known what I know now, so no doubt the Wiser People wish they could do the same for when they were in their twenties.

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Advice for (Design) Students 2009

Thus begins another school year for my alma mater. For the past two years, I gave some advice to design students (2007, 2008), whether they just started, or that they’re one year from graduating. I reviewed the previous entries recently and noticed that they still all apply. Whether you should follow what I say based on my current career status is another thing.

Nonetheless, I will add onto the list, though since I sort of ran out of design-related tips for design students, I’m going to instead offer advice from my post-graduation experience to all students.

Never Stop Learning

I mentioned variations of this in the previous lists, but it’s important to be explicit about this one, especially since I really believe in it. Schooling may end after graduation, but you never stop learning. As a side advice, don’t assume you know everything, because you don’t. Be humble and ask the right questions when you don’t know. I’ve never actually seen recent graduates get cocky in jobs, but I’ve heard that it happens quite frequently.

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What Am I Doing? (September 2009)

Contract/Freelance

Near the end of August, one of my good designer friends from college contacted me about a contract job in the Visual/Signage Team at her workplace at a Pottery Barn corporate office. Not only was it great to see her again, but it was also refreshing to be in a working environment that is different from the one that I have been in.

Without getting too much into the details, I’ll just say that the job is to put together a seasonal guide book for internal use, and it allows the opportunity for me to be asked back and work for future seasons. They also had a bunch of little tasks that need an extra hand with, so I helped the team out with those, too.

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What Am I Doing? (June 2009)

Site and Experiments Section

If you couldn’t tell from my posts for the past month, I’ve been crazy working on my website, especially the Experiments section. I’m just about finished with that section before I move on to the remaining areas of this site.

Programming Experiments screenshot

My latest addition is the Programming Experiments section. This is really important for me as I want to share and document my mini-coding experiments as I work on this site and future sites. These experiments won’t have the tutorial type of posts, but they will show as much of the related code that I use as possible. It’s not perfect right now, but it can be.

I have to admit, it takes a lot of work and time to build this “complete” website that I had dreamed of for many years, a site that is supposed to be representative of the public side of my life, including my career as well as my passions. Even though it’s taking longer than I expected, I have enjoyed the journey. I wake up every day excited and wondering if I would be coding and designing that day. I even considered making a shirt that just says something like, “I would code all day if I could.” Programming for me evokes so many ideas and possibilities, it’s mind-blowing!

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Mae Jemison on teaching arts and sciences together | Video on TED.com

Mae Jemison on teaching arts and sciences together | Video on TED.com.

(Testing WordPress’s “Press This” bookmarklet app.)

Today I watched a TED presentation (link above) of Ms. Jemison speaking about art and science as two seemingly opposite fields that stem from one human characteristic: creativity. Basically both involve thinking and using our minds to arrive at certain outcomes.

That’s a really interesting way of looking at these two fields, as it makes me feel more comfortable about my interests and passions in design and science. The video is worth the watch if you’re interested in both.

Incomparable Comparison of Life Accomplishments

During the presentation, she mentions her academic experience in college, where she was studying all these physics courses with complicated sounding names while putting together a dance show that she was also passionate about. After that she mentioned that she went to space, which made her super impressive in my book.

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What Have I Done? (Anniversary Review 2008)

Today marks the first anniversary of Flush. A year ago, I “soft opened” this blog, and believe it or not, I still haven’t “grand opened” it, although I’m not sure if I really need to anyway.

Flash Review

The past year has been a bumpy ride. I finished my last undergrad class, got sucked into the world of Sim City 3000 and Sims 2 as I prepped for my job search, started my beta site, got a job at Peet’s, went to see Sagmeister speak, skipped out on Alumni Day (I’m sorry!), worked on a freelance project for my aunt’s business, bought a new printer, watched the impressive production of the Beijing Olympics, resumed working on my portfolio and site, and rekindled my passion for web developing.

My attitude on design has changed, and that has helped me narrow down the types of careers that I would like to pursue. And every day, I’m getting closer to that job and that career. Working on my site almost every day excites me and motivates me because 1) I’ve grown to enjoy coding and designing, and 2) I can’t wait to share with the world what I’ve done.

Prediction for the Next Twelve Months

I don’t know.

Nobody does, and I’ve been wrong enough times about where I would be right now to not make any more general predictions. But I will always have hope, I will always have my expectations, and I will always believe in the future.

A year from now, I may or may not be a designer, and I may or may not enjoy coding still/anymore, and I may completely change my mind about this site and start a brand new one, or career. And that’s perfectly okay, as long as I am okay with it and it’s for the better. I may not reach my current desired destination, but that may or may not be as important as the journey to get there. I mean, I totally wish I were rich already and not have to work but become a philanthropist and help starving children in Africa or save the rain forest in South America, but it would probably mean more to me if I actually pay my dues, work my way up, meet interesting people, and learn about the issues to get there.

Flush.

Career Routes: Web Developing and “Green” Companies

In the past few weeks, as I have been working on my portfolio site and learning PHP and Ajax, I re-found my excitement and fascination in coding, and I could imagine myself working on it as a full-time gig, despite the hairsplitting troubleshooting (but when it works, it works beautifully!) At the same time, my interest in environmentalism and sustainability still exists. Not so much, though, is visual design, at least as a career. Therefore, I now have narrowed my choices down to two: web developing and “green” jobs.

I don’t know which is more correct, web “developing” or web “programming,” but I know what I want to do. The problem is that a quick job search online shows that most of those jobs require multiple years of experience, which I don’t have professionally.

And with green jobs, I still don’t know where to start, because I don’t know what my education in (mostly visual) design can contribute to the organizations. But I’m sure there is a future and potential for growth for the entire industry, so I’m not too worried; there’s something to do for everyone.

Therefore, the perfect job right now would be to combine both: to code the website or whatever for a “green” company, letting me contribute to my passion of changing/saving the world by doing what I enjoy doing.

This is not too far-fetched of a dream, compared to my other ones. If I have to pay more dues by working for a year or two somewhere to get there, I just might do it.

Flush.