Don't Look For A Job, Create One!
SHEROES Mentor Sunandini Basu shares with us the importance of creating the job you want to do and to not rely on a mother system or a template that shall make your job easy.
“Early on in my career at UX Design, I was hired as a designer at one of the first startups in North India. It was a small team of incredibly smart creative people and my first experience of working with non-designers.
Those were the days when we didn’t know of the term “startup”, nor did we think we were going to be one. , We had no clear idea what product we would be building, or even how startups worked.
For the first week or so, I wasn’t assigned any work, and I pottered around talking to different people in the team until I realized that no one had a clue what the designer would be used for.
So I set about creating my job role. I showed my boss some of my ideas of what we could build, inserted myself into product brainstorms and started whiteboarding the conversations, made quick rough wireframes and high fidelity mockups, visualized user experience ideas overnight and generally made myself into as essential part of the product development process. So much so, that I had to start saying no to more projects and more collaboration, and we eventually hired more designers to build up the team.
Looking back, now I realize that unknowingly I had played a role in creating a culture of design in that startup, championed design in the development process, and evangelized the need for design to the product and engineering teams.
Six years ago, I started working at Adobe as a senior designer. In this organization, a culture of design was already present and was in collaboration with other stakeholders, also a set of expectations every designer had to fulfill was in motion, and I followed that list diligently.
Some months ago, I was asked to take on the Design Manager role. Alike others of my gender, I hesitated. “Could I do it?” As I had recently become a mother and was worried about the work commitments over my family time.
But over those months, the question had changed to “Do I want to do it?” and what exactly was “it”, that role? Unlike a designer, a Design Manager’s role at Adobe is not clearly defined.
I looked around at other Design Managers to see what they were doing and reflected on what I want to do as a design leader. As I grew into the role, I asked questions, observed and learnt from peers, leaders, mentors.
Started getting involved, from taking responsibility for my team and their work to jumping in and solving problems and providing backup resources. I identified what needed to be done, whether it’s for the business, for the team or for the company, and gathered resources and support to get that done.
Another responsibility that I had made my own was to make sure that my designers were a matched potential to the project and that they stood challenged in the work that they did. That they got the right mentoring which would suit their career phase whether it’s from me or someone else.
As earlier I am trying to create a job that I want to do. Yes, it means starting out from a vulnerable position, trying new things and making mistakes. But when you have a clear purpose, every failure is a learning experience and a step towards fulfilling your purpose. As they say in the startup world, fail fast and fail often!