Every year since beginning college I have had the opportunity to attend a design conference held in Toronto by the Association of Registered Graphic Designers (RGD). This group is made up of more than thousands of members who all pursue an education or career in the design community. This years theme was Speak the Truth; I sat in front of many designers who discussed their past and present experiences.
Connecting with other designers is always such a fun and exciting way to spend a day (or 2). And this event is always eye opening — to which I end up meeting and listening to creative people of all crafts talk design. There is discussion, reflection, and celebration around how design is being used to create new and exciting things, to innovate, and to produce unique solutions to problems. These efforts are impacting people and society in pretty cool ways and during Design Thinkers I get the chance to see and hear all about it.
Each year I return with more knowledge on what I love and a better taste for what I want out of my career. Plus as a student I am evermore eager to be inspired by talented people that push this field forward. This year stood out to me personally because I recently had the opportunity to a work as a UX/UI designer at Scotiabank’s FactoryU in Waterloo. This past Co-op term has been exciting and challenging as I’ve been learning User Experience design and software while challenging myself to flex creatively. It was especially cool to be at the conference and sit in the crowd as a working professional — I could more-than-ever relate to designers speaking to their work and the teams involved behind each. I also took note of UX/UI focused keynotes in order to bring back some valuable knowledge.
During the conference I constantly get to sit in front of people who transform old ways of thinking into newer design strategies and systems, while listen to others talk of what it is they have set out to accomplish. Having access to this kind of environment so early on in my career has played a huge role in my development as a designer by allowing me to channel so many different pathways while connecting with people I otherwise, would not have. There is also endless opportunity to network — and since talking to someone you don’t know about a shared interest doesn’t always come naturally, I believe this is the perfect place to start. I’m thankful for Design Thinkers, the network that surrounds it, and everything is has given me (and I’m not just talking to all the free stuff). It continues to leave a lasting impression on me as student and as a young adult who is eager to begin her career.
These two days away always affect the approach I take to my work, and this year specifically towards my teams project by reminding me that everyone experiences stopping points from time to time when trying to solve a problem. Lots of designers spoke to the challenges they face every day and going once again this year was an accurate reminder that crumpling paper is a natural part of the process. This conference and the four months I spent at FactoryU have taught me that there will always be iteration, learning opportunities, and constant combat. When faced with challenges you can only choose to strive forward as a team, and the insight I received this year was a great reminder that ideas can be marvellous, but it takes time and effort to produce truly amazing things. It was motivating to return to the drawing board with a fresh set of eyes and a reminder that hard work and dedication pays off.