July 2–16, 2017
My Week Off
For a glorious week… I didn’t do any work. Instead, I hung out with family. Did a road trip to west Texas. And just relaxed by the lake as much as possible.
This week was a transition between my old job & new. And it was absolutely necessary for my mental health. It was a chance to reset my brain. Clear the air around me. And realign my expectations with my realities.
It’s my hope in the future whenever I transition jobs again that I will be able to take at least a week off, if not more. A month may have been too much, but I could have used a second week perhaps…
My First Week
And that brings me up to my first week as a UX Architect at major financial services institution.
Before I talk a little about this week, I want to acknowledge the incredible level of security required at this job. I cannot (and therefore will not) talk about any of my work, our tools, etc. — And while I was hoping to keep Year of UX alive, it may need to pivot. But I will see how each week goes. I should be able to share concepts. Maybe things I’ve learned outside of work. We’ll see.
For this first week though, I wanted to talk about transitioning into a new environment. Because that sets the tone for a long time & is invaluable to setting a good experience for employees.
Showing up on my first day, I was greeted by the individual who will eventually be my direct supervisor. Let’s call that person SC. SC welcomed me with generosity. We walked the grounds of the plaza together. We had lunch together. We stopped and said hello to everyone we ran into. It was a whirlwind of introductions, explanations and joking about not getting too far into the weeds on day one.
Lesson 1: Allow yourself time.
Starting a new full time job is an investment; in both yourself & in the company. Don’t rush it. Ada Lovelace has my favorite quote on this:
Remember above all things that you are not to hurry over anything. There is plenty of time, and if you lay a good, solid foundation, the super structure will be easy & delightful to build! — Ada Lovelace
At the end of my first day, I was incredibly lucky to be present for a marketing presentation that provided great context for the business as a whole. Everyone since has agreed that it was perfect timing.
Lesson 2: Have open eyes, ears, heart and mind.
Investing all that you have into the company is key to be the best UX designer. That’s true if you’re a FTE, contractor or even part-timer. UX is about understanding people & people make up culture. So attending this large meeting — about marketing, but mostly about culture — was great insight to who I’d be working with. Both broadly and also specifically.
The key word here, though, is OPEN. I have never worked in the private sector before, much less a large corporation, so this whole week I’ve had to remain OPEN about how things are said, done, processed, etc. It’s different — not wrong — and something I need to be open to process.
Day 2 & 3 were all about meeting people. We walked around with candy and I literally went person to person, introducing myself & talking a bit about whatever came up. For this introvert, it was exhausting. But by end of Day 4, I could already tell it was invaluable for my success here. Because people had a face to my name. And I had a face that I recognized around me.
Lesson 3: It’s really all about the people.
UX is all about the users — people. Office life is no different. It’s all about the people. The ones you’re spending hours and hours a week with. The people here are the ones who I will share my personal space, personal stories, personal ideas, and personal revelations with. We will design together, argue about specifics, and solve problems together. We will succeed and fail together. And we will all be here the next business day to do it all again.
So meeting the people around me is the most valuable way to spend my time during this first week. Because it is those people who will help me thrive here.
So that’s it’s for my first week! Can’t wait to jump into week 2!