A piece of advice that Ryan, a creative director at Listen, gave early on was to put myself in situations that I don’t belong in. Navigating new surroundings and office climate it’s not hard to bring this advice to life.
One of the phrases they use in the Listen office is “raising your hand.” At first this notion seemed juvenile and intimidating - I was accustomed to this in school settings, asking questions and receiving advice came so naturally - I don't know why it is a stumbling block in work culture. Perhaps this might stem from feeling that in a professional setting I need to know the path/direction, all the answers, and how to use software now that I am out of school. The vulnerability of asking “a superior” and the fear that I might look lacking is intimidating.
I have had to become more and more aware, asking questions, asking for clarification, and trying to break from being meek. I need to keep reminding myself that my creative directors have ten plus years of design experience than I do and some designer out there has ten plus more years than they do. I have so many more years to be honing my craft, figuring things out, failing, and learning through the process. I am transforming, getting stronger, and looking challenges dead in the eye. Through this experience at WGI I have the ability to grow as a designer and learn how to assert my voice, adapt to workplace dynamics, and be vulnerable - all of these lessons will make me a better employee.
Walking into work one morning I spotted a man teetering on tall scaffolding, arm raised high over his head and in his hand was a spray can. Each morning I pass walls and walls of colorful graffiti on the way to work but I had never seen any local graffiti artists in the action. The stretches of graffiti, each with their own character, style, and story greet me every day. Each artist has something they want to show the world and want to believe their tag has permanence and meaning. As we are coming to a close here at Listen in Chicago, I have been thinking about how will I leave my mark in the design world, this community, and life in general.
As I look closer, each piece of graffiti evolves and blends into the next. The man with outstretched arm is covering up the graffiti under his new piece. The good thing about street art and creating “lasting” marks is that it can be renewed/revamped/reworked and spray-painted over. In my career I’ll have a new thing I want to share in every leg of my life...maybe daily. Ask me again in ten years and my “tags” will have evolved every time I raise my hand and grow.
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