Onwards! Seven years at Behance, and what comes next.
I was fresh out of college when I began at Behance. During school, I did a handful of internships — at newspapers, magazines, and on film sets — that I thought would help me find a career I was passionate about. Instead, these internships only served to show me what I didn’t want to do. After graduating, I suddenly found myself dropped into the last thing I expected to find so quickly: a career. It was 2009 — brands were just catching onto Twitter, Instagram didn’t exist, and the Facebook “like” had only existed for a few months (really, look it up!) Life at a small tech start-up (I was hire #10) was everything I’d found missing at my internships. It was fast-paced, DIY, experimental, make-the-rules-as-you-go-along. Like me, my colleagues were hard-working and ambitious as shit.
I can’t say I knew exactly what I was doing when I was hired as Behance’s first Community Manager, but there’s nothing I love more than a steep learning curve and the opportunity to dig in my heels and own something. It wasn’t long before running our Twitter accounts & managing customer support turned into running the blog, sending email newsletters, turning user feedback into product changes, and giving interviews to press. Which soon turned into pitching internal programs, becoming a manager, experimenting with evangelism, A/B tests, product feature roadmaps, engagement analytics, testing out paid advertisements, and speaking on panels. The list goes on, on, on.
When we were acquired by Adobe in 2013, my role continue to expand. I found myself navigating a corporate landscape for the first time and learning from some of the best in the industry. I became Adobe’s User Trust & Safety expert, resource on all things community (Behance by this point had reached 8 Million members), and — I’m proud to say —absorber of every acronym thrown my way (corporate peeps, you know what I’m talking about).
Seven years later, this is my last week at Behance. To say this role has been anything but life-changing would be an almost criminal understatement. I’ll always feel #BLESSED to have worked with the group of insanely intelligent, talented, and fun people I got to surround myself with every day, and equally blessed to have released and honed products and features that our community loved. I’ve absorbed more lessons & skills than I ever thought possible (will post some soon, promise). I couldn’t feel more confident leaving things in the hands of our world-class Community Team (Roxanne, Al, Jackie & Roxanne #2— hai!). One of the coolest things about leaving a team is knowing you get to watch from afar the incredible things they’re going to do next.
What’s next for me:
I’ve always been inspired by change-makers. People with the guts to tackle complex problems by using creative, innovative solutions. People who don’t accept the way things are just because the challenge to change them is too daunting.
Having worked at the intersection of design & technology at Behance, I know first-hand how powerful these tools can be in creating incredible products. Behance’s mission to empower creative professionals and help them find opportunities and spread their work will always resonate with me. Unlike so many other tech companies who claim to “make the world a better place,” but really just make our lives more convenient, Behance provides a specific & un-selfish service to a group of people I care about.
But I’m ready to put my efforts toward teams who use design & technology to address the big problems. Not problems whose solutions will make life more comfortable or fun, but problems whose solutions will have a genuine impact on underserved or in-need communities.
So, next up for me: applying my tech, marketing, strategy, and community-building skills to the world of Social Impact.
I want to work with designers, technologists, and creative-thinkers who are addressing the most challenging problems today — environmental, social, economic, and so many more — and using their skills to make an impact on some of these daunting, complex issues.
I’m inspired by companies using tech to do this, like Jigsaw & Crisis Text Line, teams applying design-thinking to these problems, like IDEO.org, Design Impact Group, D-Rev.Org, & teams funding and nurturing these sorts of solutions, like The Autodesk Foundation, The Acumen Fund, Saapi Ideas That Matter, and many more.
There’s so much to love about this field, and I want to take my time finding out where my place is. To start, I’ll work one-on-one with a few small teams approaching these sorts of problems. Sound interesting? Email me.
Where the hell am I?
And that’s another thing. I moved to Europe for a year! After 11 years in NYC/Brooklyn, my husband and I decided to take a leap and spend some time away, testing out a few different cities, doing a few artist residencies, and soaking up life away from the grind.
This month we are at Arteles Creative Residency in the Finnish countryside with a kickass group of 10 other creatives from around the world. While Adam finishes a book, I’m wrapping up work for Behance, working on a screenplay (back to my film roots!) and getting to know the Social Impact landscape. Oh, and lighting a lot of fires to heat the wood-burning sauna. (Fun fact: there is 1 sauna for every 2 people in Finland).
In November, we’ll move to Amsterdam for at least a few months, and will play it by ear after that. At two weeks in, we’ve had a lot of “holy shit we actually did this!” moments, and feel super lucky that everything came together as needed to make this opportunity happen (not to mention having a head-start on leaving the country should Trump win).
Talk to me! (no, really)
This next year is all about exploration, adventure, learning, and working with intention, so please get in touch! A là 50 Coffees, I’d so love to meet up or email with anyone who wants to talk tech, creativity, impact, travel. Ask me to tell you about the time my co-workers got me a Beyonce impersonator.
Twitter: Sarah Rapp