This new year, I’ll be starting it off right with a new design job! I will be working as an international graphic designer, managing designs and collaterals for several countries around the world. My job is to take provided copy in their corresponding language and execute designs that are for the target market in that specific country. It is a huge opportunity and I am beyond excited to take on a position that revolves around extensive research and monitoring. Having the statistics from the marketing team to track how well my designs are doing is going to be a really big learning curve, but I’m excited to work with my team to get the numbers they need.
I am the only international graphic designer, but I will be on the marketing team’s floor and will be mentored by the marketing manager, who I really have enjoyed getting to know through my hiring process. There are a few things I was nervous about since my team is not very large and most of the people I will be working with are in California or across the world in a completely different time zone. When I started to pass each interview, more questions came to mind. These were questions that I was a bit nervous to ask, but if there is one thing I have learned as a designer, it is that you need to ask for exactly what you need, including the environment you need to do good work.
The environment at this firm is vastly different from what I’m used to. For starters, it is an open workspace environment with massive windows, meaning there is light! Working for my past design firm, freelancing, and working in school, there was usually a few windows, but were always covered with blinds. I also used to bartend, so I am quite the night owl! While us designers love working late at night or in the dark to avoid glares and everyday hustle and bustle distractions, this environment is not healthy. So, I’m excited that my team’s floor works in a well lit and open space.
The second change for me will be that there is a lot of movement on the floor. For the most part, I’ve only worked with other designers and therefore, we all stayed at our desks for hours at a time, only moving for cigarette breaks, energy drinks, or fried green bean runs from the student center. Not the healthiest of environments, but that’s the reality of a design world– it is intimate, not well lit, self-consumed, covered in various caffeinated drinks, and low key. This new job will be full of movement and I think it’ll be a good change over time.
In the beginning, though, I feel that it will take intense focus to avoid the distractions of all the commotion of people moving about, managing files, jotting numbers on white boards, working with other teams, and answering client calls. As a designer, you’re pretty much glued to your computer, using quick codes on the keyboard and moving your mouse simultaneously, clicking and dragging. Simply put, designers stay in their hobbit holes and only come out for food, water, bathroom breaks, or to gain insight on design concepts, alignment, or sizing. So, when you aren’t around other people like you, who are you around at this new firm?
Most of the firm is business, accounting, and communication major graduates, who have joined the firm to manage investment accounts. Frankly, it’ll take time to figure out what they actually do. Going into these interviews, I knew that I may not be familiar with what their job entails. However, I know what I do and know I can do it well, no matter the client. With extensive research, there is nothing that you can’t do. However, you need the work environment you’re used to and perform well in. For me, this environment entails apple products, a large monitor or two, a clean desk (lysoled every single day), slippers or wool socks, and music.
These may be specific things, but I have found that it is exactly what I like for my work space. Graphic design is all about space, so it’s important to own your space. Going into the last two interviews of five, I mustered up the courage to ask about my work space. Seeing as I would spend more time at work than home, it is important that I made it clear that I have a great work process, but only if I’m comfortable and are supplied with the tools I need. While I was willing to compromise on the slippers or wool socks, I was not at all willing to compromise on the PC part or music. Developers work on PCs, which I am not. The other thing was that seeing as I won’t be working with clients on an individual or regular basis, I told them that my process included music for creative stimulation. When you aren’t around other creatives, it is really important to keep this stimulation coming! In addition, since I’m responsible for eight different language copy, it is crucial that I am not distracted. Therefore, I made it clear that I listen to music to stay focused and motivated, especially for this career.
To my surprise, they completely understood where I was coming from and respected the fact that I asked for what I needed to do my job well. I was shocked. With no questions asked, they told me they would buy me a mac so that I could complete my work and that I was approved to listen to music on my floor. Last time I spoke to my manager, he said the mac was still in the works and I should have it by the end of my company training. While I was super excited, I was also super nervous after he told me that I would be the first person at the firm to ever have a mac. This is such an amazing opportunity with great support from my managers and I am so glad to start in an environment that is well lit with my mac, my stats, and my music.
So, what will I be listening to get the jobs done? Well, I’m sure it’ll change as I begin to develop advertisements for different countries. I’m excited to learn about each, individual culture. For now, I have my go-to playlist, consisting of mostly American music. There are ample music programs that you can listen to, but my favorite is Spotify. Not only is it easy to use, but it’s fairly inexpensive for the subscription. Nothing drives me more crazy than ads while I’m doing design work. So, I have a paid membership. Right now, if you sign up as a college student, it will cost you less than five dollars for three months. While this was not available when I signed up, I don’t even mind paying the ten dollars a month. All I do, all day, is listen to music while I’m designing. I LOVE my career! Without further ado, here’s the list of songs I often listen to on repeat: