The New Idiom’s most recent graduating staffer now comes on the receiving end of things.
Please quickly introduce yourself in a sentence or two. Where are you from? Where are you now? When did you graduate from ID and which program?
I’m a newly minted Past IDer. I graduated in Spring 2008 from the MDM program. (I was once the person who pulled together these Past IDer writeups, so it’s neat to be on the other side.) Prior to ID, I was a senior industrial designer for Ingersoll Rand in NJ, but I’m now at Wachovia in Charlotte, NC working as an Innovation Consultant.
No, but I do have an English Pointer that behaves like a child at times.
In which ways and dimensions do you think ID changed your career?
It opened doors. If you told me a year ago that I’d be working in financial services when I graduated, I would have been shocked. I expected to continue in product development and keep solving problems for end users. But I recognized how our skills as designers apply to all sorts of problems, and how we can help businesses approach them in innovative ways. Banking is in an interesting time right now, and because of ID, I can be a part of it.
What are skills learned at ID that you are using at Wachovia?
I call on the design methods and frameworks arsenal just about every day. I’ve used tips on customer interviewing from Michelle Curry’s Research Methods class. I hear Larry Keeley’s and Michael Winnick’s voices forcing me to pare down weeks of content into digestible, compelling one-pager stories. I channel John Grimes when talking about the user-centered case, and I’m constantly driving towards “actionable insights” thanks to Vijay. Haven’t used the Insight Matrix yet, but it’s just a matter of time.
What hard times did you have at ID while a student, and what got you through them?
People asked how I managed to both work part time and carry a full-time courseload. It was nine months of pain on little sleep, but in hindsight it helped to shift between the two during the day. If I was slogging through a school assignment, it was invigorating to jump off for a conference call, then get back into the assignment. And I could immediately see my courses influence my work and vice-versa, so it validated that pursuing the degree was the right choice.
If you could have changed one thing about your time at ID, what would it have been?
I might have been pickier about my courses in the first semester, maybe taking on a few more sponsored projects. As an MDM, you don’t get a lot of time to figure out what the classes and instructors and learning styles are all about. So by the time you do, you’re halfway done with the program!
What other advice do you have for current and/or future ID students?
Leverage your network. ID is such a unique program and brings in all sorts of interesting people with different experiences. Similar to how MBA programs tout their networks once you graduate, my classmates will attest that I’ve already called on them to answer random questions or point me towards experts that they know.
This space is for anything else you’d like to share.
I just drove back to Charlotte this past Monday to finally move the rest of my stuff out of my Chicago apartment. If you ever get the chance to drive along the Smoky Mountains through Kentucky and Tennessee, do it! It’s a gorgeous ride. And I also stopped at Dollywood, which I can now check off my life’s To Do list.