Re: Programming and IxD (was- Help: Lookingforanother me)

8 Sep 2004 - 7:44am
10 years ago
2 replies
318 reads
Dave Collins
2004

>I want to work for a company that is concerned with IxD - but do not
wish to
be pigeon holed as either as an IxD'er, or Programmer. I also fear that
by
changing roles for each successive job, that future employers will think
that I don't really know what I want to do (not focused).

>However, it's encouraging to hear how many of you lead similar
schizophrenic
lives - and actually look to employ people with many and varied
interests.

I too started off as a programmer by profession (as well as an artist by
schooling and by hobby) and am filling the space of Interaction Design.
I too am struggling with identity. Headhunters are looking for
specialists, I am a generalist. Mine might be considered a genuine
identity crisis though, as the distinction between usability,
interaction design and IA are subtle IME. I guess I'm looking for a
smaller org where they all are under the same hat. Either that, or I
should get some schooling in one of them. Or move to the States where
there's a larger pool...

Dave
Canada

Comments

8 Sep 2004 - 1:36pm
Lada Gorlenko
2004

> Headhunters are looking for specialists, I am a generalist.
> I guess I'm looking for a smaller org where they all are under
> the same hat. Either that, or I should get some schooling in one
> of them.
>
> Dave
> Canada

Quite the opposite, in my experience. Large companies that do design in
teams may be a better place for a generalist. And yes, teams do create
excellent user experiences (I don't use the word "designs" here on purpose)
much more often than individuals.

The assumption that in a design team everyone is pigeonholed is wrong.
True, you are likely to have particular responsibilities on a particular
project (for example, I started as a default user research/evaluation
lead). At the same time, swapping parts of your work with other
anti-pigeonholing chaps in your team (and there are plenty around!) can't
be easier. Our graphic designer is as keen to learn task analysis as I am
to learn graphic design. Why? Because knowing related areas is better than
not knowing, right? :-) I can safely experiment with my pathetic graphical
skills (those taking pleasure in staining their fingers with sepia are such
slow learners of Photoshop!) without being afraid of screwing up the
project. What's more, I have a highly qualified mentor to guide me, for a
small price of sharing my own insights on my favourite subject. You can't
fail experimenting in a design team, since the appropriate "authority" is
still responsible for his area. Can anyone wish for a better learning
environment?

Designing in a team, I've looked after requirements, evaluations, IAs,
prototypes, and got a useful boost on the technical side as well (my old
C/C++ happened to be an impressive but rather archaic skill in IxD).
Sometimes it not a choice, but more and more often I pick my own hat
(subject to team's approval, of course, but we rarely disagree on that,
since we know what's better for us and a particular project). The most
important skill of a true generalist is the ability to think outside the
box. Check yourself on that - if you can, stop dealing with wrong
headhunters.

Folks, look for ways to enjoy who you are, whoever you are. There is always
a match, just be good at being yourself.

Cheers,
Lada

ps. Dave, some schooling is rarely a disadvantage ;-)

11 Sep 2004 - 1:33pm
Jean-Anne Fitzp...
2004

> > Headhunters are looking for specialists, I am a generalist.
> > I guess I'm looking for a smaller org where they all are under
> > the same hat. Either that, or I should get some schooling in one
> > of them.
> >

My experience (in general, not just the current phase of my career) is
that being a generalist works great after you are hired, but it is
hard to sell yourself that way. You just have to play the game of
getting through the recruiting layer by disguising yourself as a
specialist, but make sure the people you're actually going to work
with appreciate that you aren't that limited. Good luck!

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