Journey to the Dark Side

March 5, 2009

in design,innovate

Neon from circa 1960's motel, Sarasota FL

Neon from circa 1960's motel, Sarasota FL

I have taken an odd turn in my career trajectory recently, which is probably on par for my rather daring personality. It most likely started years ago, maybe at birth, who can say?! For the past 14 years I have done client work. Interning freshman year of college, on and off until I graduated (I also apprenticed as a chef then moved into baking pastries, wedding cakes and pies). At Purdue we did so many group projects you almost never knew what your grades would look like, but I loved it. I picked a technical degree over art school and dove into all the appealing team work…little did I know. After graduation I worked freelance and contract, I ran my own design business and worked at several start-ups. I wanted to try it all, choosing new experiences over comfort-zone every time. So why would a free-spirited, creative, art kid work at such a behemoth company like Microsoft?

The answer lies in my collective experiences over the years. One thing kept pestering me, at each new place I worked and it ate away at me. No matter where I was or who I worked for the same issue would rear its head. There was always something getting in the way of designers and developers working together and having a unified voice. Sometimes the dev team was in another room, or building across town or in another city or state all together. Other times the foggy, ill communication of goals, roles and responsibility mucked up the chance to team up. After a while I lost hope, I began focusing on user advocacy, in the hope that it would fulfill my need to create SOMETHING that benefits people.

Fast-forward to last August. As I began the interview process with Microsoft it became clear that this job was a chance to get out there and talk about change, encourage both designer and dev communities to join forces to make better products, learn and discover tools that allow and support teamwork. There was so much good being offered by such a small, smart team of design and tech ninjas; help for students and start-ups, design challenges and partnerships for agencies with platforms and megaphones to broadcast their achievements. Some days I am still in shock my job provides the opportunity to help make things better for the people I care for the most and yes, I work for Microsoft.

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