A few months ago, I graduated with a design degree and kissed my days as a student goodbye. Needless to say, when you spend 80% of your time at school, adjusting to life outside of class curriculums and graded assignments is a little unfamiliar. Your goals no longer involve earning a specific GPA, registering for classes before they fill up, or even waking up on time to attend a lecture.
Unfortunately for me, this routine and standardized lifestyle was all I really knew. Twenty years of school giving me step-by-step instructions on how to progress onto the next level, and now all of a sudden I have to call my own shots? Well, there’s no wondering why my post-grad goals were just slightly short-sighted:
Get a job.
Yes, it’s a little unimaginative, but at the time, it made perfect, logical sense.
To my luck, Sequence was there to extend their hand out to me, giving me my first professional experience as their design intern. Of course, like any other bright-eyed intern, I was eager to learn about all the proper steps and skills it would take to officially evolve from a student to a professional. And like the rookie I was, I soon realized that there was no real formulaic way of getting to where I thought I needed to be. However, with a few wise words from my colleagues, I discovered there was far more to reach for than a 9 to 5 job.
“Uncertainty is OK. Mediocrity isn’t.”
Whenever there is a chance to become a better version of yourself, take it. Never settle for safe and consistent when it means sacrificing personal growth. The best thing about having a job that you don’t know all the answers to, is knowing that you will have gained something at the end.
“Acknowledge fear and let it go.”
Fear happens. It happens when you’re presenting to a client. It happens when you aren’t quite sure if a deadline is going to be met. But in any situation, you have a choice. And when you consciously decide that you want to overcome fear more than you want to be overpowered by it, you are allowing yourself to go as far as you want.
“Nobody wants to work with a jerk.”
It is as straightforward as that, and at the same time, it is as difficult as it sounds to avoid it. The important thing to remember is to genuinely be kind to your colleagues. Inspire and empower them. At the end of the day, nobody’s skill set is really indispensable, but if you can positively affect others simply with your attitude, you are that much more valued.
“Be balanced in work and play.”
Life is all about balance. Find the value of hard work, and you can appreciate the value of earned play.
After two months of interning, these pieces of advice still resonated with me. And lucky for me, my colleagues consistently put their words into action every day, serving as a constant reminder of where I could and wanted to be. Thanks to this whole experience, I now know the difference between achievement through work and fulfillment through passion.
Cindy Tsui is a Junior Designer at Sequence SF.