Standing at the edge of my second year of Graphic Design school at St. Lawrence College one aspect has continually surprised and thrilled me; the people I meet and work with.
Early last term I decided to become a member of the RGD Student Committee. I wanted to begin becoming a part of the larger world of Design and I saw RGD as a gateway to that. These meetings and projects connected me to wonderful students in other programs across the province and I feel part of a much larger community now. One of the best parts of RGD is the events that they hold, events like Design Thinkers and Headstart. I will describe how much fun these events are in a later post, so stayed tuned. One of these events that I try to attend is "Future By Design", a series of panels and discussions that is broadcast to satellite cities across the country. Wendy Millard RGD (@wendymill), organizes these events for Kingston voluntarily and is always a welcoming and positive presence. She is friendly and always drives interesting discussion among the people who attend. I was first introduced to Wendy when she spoke as a representative for RGD about our membership to the organization as students. Wendy is a graduate of the St. Lawrence College Graphic Design program and currently manages Design Services for Empire Life in Kingston. I asked Wendy some questions about her experiences both in and out of school. As I get closer to graduation day the world beyond the classroom is on my mind more and more often. I asked Wendy what lessons she learned during her time at school and which lessons she considered most valuable. "I learned that in order to achieve what I wanted I had to give it my 110%." Wendy goes on to describe balancing competing demands and the value and importance of focus. "In today's world of constant distractions, being able to stay focused has become even more important!" I relate and identify with this concept all too well, with my duties as a representative on the RGD student committee, weekly student peer tutoring and freelance work outside of school, maintaining a balance of demands has become my number one priority. I also asked Wendy about what daily habit or strategy she practices that she feels is most successful. As I have honed and refined my own process when it comes to work I am now fascinated by the process of others. "I'm focused on building trust. In order for me to do the best work I can do, there needs to be trust between you and your client." This intrigued me a great deal because it was not a concrete skill that could be measured. Building trust is a far more nuanced and intangible skill and seems to me can only be honed by making mistakes and learning on the job. "That comes back to listening well and developing relationships. I think I really started to learn that in my first design job and have been fine tuning that skill ever since." One of the final questions I asked Wendy had to do with education and if the learning process continues on after Design school. "Yes of course. Graphic design is a career that is constantly chaining in how you do things and what you do." Wendy reinforced what I am learning for myself about design, that it is not a typical career, it is a lifestyle that embraces evolution and constantly challenging how things are and asking if they can be better. "Don't get discouraged when things don't happen the way you hope they would. Keep giving your 110% and watch for the opportunities that come your way and take them." Wendy's advice and thoughts give me hope that I am approaching the world of design, my own personal outlook on work-ethic and relationship building in a positive and effective way. Speaking with Wendy and the other designers that I have encountered so far in my career fills me with excitement and gratitude to be a part of such a wonderful workforce. The constant push for improvement and innovation is an exhausting and never-ending process, but it is also rewarding in ways that I can't quantify on this small corner of the web. If any of you, dear readers, have the opportunity to talk to anyone in your chosen field that has been working in the field, ask them if you can buy them a cup of coffee and ask them about what they have learned. There is nothing more valuable that the knowledge learned by doing, and you'd be surprised how willing to share most people are. If you are willing to share these experiences please do so in the comments below I would love to hear about it.