Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Quest Ends..?

I'm exhausted, sleep-deprived, and pretty beat-up from all the end-of-semester work, but I figure I'd write a blog post to conclude my time here in DAI 505.

It's been quite the journey. I had an idea—to get professional practice education into DAI—and so I grasped this idea and let it lead me around for a couple of months. It kept picking up steam, but at the same time it also picked up a ton of other stuff too: complexities, questions, boundaries, and many more obstacles. It's true that the more your learn, the more you learn you don't know.

I've pushed my research as far as I can in one semester. I can see now why this class use to comprise of two semesters. There's a lot more I want to do, a lot more people I want to talk to, a lot more studies I want to look at. As Nancy said, I have to put it in the final section of my final chapter, and save it for later.

I have a feeling I will be pursuing this for weeks to come. The lack of professional practice education is an issue I felt strongly before this semester began. After countless hours of interviews and research, it's become an issue that truly compels me. It's difficult for me to speak to alumni and students with so much talent and enthusiasm, only to see them lacking the preparations to enter the professional world. This information is owed to them, it's necessary, it's vital. We are amazing problem-solvers and designers in this department—with so much potential—we just needed to know how to transition into the world of business + design.

It's been a great journey!


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Solution: New Direction

After meeting with two of my experts—Steve Jones and Josh Singer—I've come to the conclusion that my solution should focus on bringing to light compelling evidence—in the form of interviews, quotes, survey results, comparisons, and other data—that demonstrate a great need for professional practice education for students. This might possibly come in the form of a publication (print or PDF) or a website (maybe Flash?).

Previously, the concept I had for my solution would be to create a visual campaign, comprising of a poster and an information website/online petition, to raise the awareness of the need for professional practice education for students. Basically, the audience would see a powerful poster with a URL link to the website/petition. However, I've had to go away from this idea after talking to Josh.

Josh is actually the one in charge of developing the curriculum for Visual Communication Design, so he has some good insight. He told me: "Shame is not enough. What they want to see is that they want to see evidence. They want to understand why. They want to see what the benefits to students are. They want to see what the positive outcomes are. They want to see examples of other places where this is done, and done successfully. Shame is just a little bit of spice." Basically, "everybody supports this. Everybody likes the idea"—so my original campaign would only be preaching to the choir.

On the other hand, he told me to make the case. Surveys, interviews, successful examples of a class like this, feedback from alumni, etc. My direction should shift from negative to positive: "Say that we need this. Not that it sucks we don't have this—but we need this to succeed, right? We need to succeed and this is what we need".

Making the case with evidence is more important than something that says this sucks. "What's more important is a survey that says all of these things."

Well, I've been meaning to improve my publication design ability.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Late-stretch Uncertainty

I've been having some late-stretch uncertainty as we approach the end of the semester—and consequently the end of this research project—in a few weeks. So, I'm just going to write about it. This is my blog, after all.

What am I uncertain about? My research is strong. But I don't think my writing is strong enough. I want to do a really top-notch job for every phase of this research project—from the report to the prototype to my presentation. I think I'll revisit my writing for previous chapters to make sure it looks more professional. After I finish Chapter 3 though, of course.

I'm uncertain about my solution. I wish I had more time to research. I wish I could be more creative, more bold with my solution. Perhaps I still can. I'm probably aiming towards a campaign to promote the significance of professional practice education. But, the thing is...I don't want to just do a "good" job. I truly feel that this department needs to provide more professional practice education and/or resources to its students. I honest to god want my campaign to be able to make a tremendous impact. That's my top goal. If I can get an A in this class and graduate—sure, I'll be satisfied. But, especially at this point in my design education, I want a little bit more than that.

I am uncertain about my visual solution. Steve Jones is my graphics expert, and I really hope he can push my work to a whole new level. We will see.

I am uncertain about how my other experts—Josh Singer, Melanie Doherty, Peter Radsliff, my peers, everyone else who's aware of my research project—will feel about my solution.

Those are the things I'm uncertain about at the moment.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Interview: Melanie Doherty

I got into contact with Melanie Doherty, a designer as well as someone who taught Transition to Professional Practice at CCA for several years. I was very fortunate to be able to talk to her and receive an amazing amount of information an insight, which I feel has helped pushed my research to a new level.

By talking to her and looking at her curriculum, I was able to realize how much information and readiness DAI students lack—and that are crucial to not only succeeding but simply being able to find jobs within the crowded industry today. She covers so many different topics in her class, and it astounds me that SF State doesn't even have a portfolio class; as mentioned, it was discontinued years ago and yet it is still on our contract. Transition to Professional Practice covers not only creating an effective portfolio, but it also looks at every aspect of freelancing and running a business, different working environments (small vs large studios, etc), which environment is best for you, how to interview, how to create a resume, preparing financially and mentally, and so much more. She even brings in established, successful designers for students to interact with. Not only is it the hard skills and soft skills, but it is also the culture and mindset that she looks at for graduates to not only succeed but be happy.

Fortunately, she has agreed to be on my panel of experts! She will be a very valuable resource for me to turn to for the remainder of my research.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Time and Resources

With Chapter 1's deadline coming up, I suddenly feel the pressure of having so little time left to complete this research study. I mean, because besides wrapping up the research project, we'll also have to work on finalizing our book designs, binding it, ideating and creating solutions, showing them to experts and peers and receiving feedback, presenting everything, etc. There is a lot of pressure to get a lot done in so little time.

I know that I can do enough to conclude with a great study and solution, but to be honest—I really have high hopes for my project. I really want to do a lot more research, to look at a lot more parellel situations, to have my solution be as creative and bold and compelling as possible. I truly feel that the lack of readiness for DAI students to transition to the professional world is a major issue, something that affects me, affected countless alumni, and will probably affect many more DAI students to come. I honestly, when deciding to pursue this issue, envisioned that my research study might have an impact great enough or contribute enough significance to spark change or at least serve as a major catalyst.

I still hope I can do that, but I also realize that this DAI 505 course is only one-semester long, as Nancy made clear to us many times throughout the course of the semester. I'll do what I can, and I'll try to approach the remainder of my time as intelligently as possible to make the most of the limited resources. If anything, this experience has given me a taste of what research can accomplish and how significant it is.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Reflect: Mid-term Presentation

So I just received my mid-term presentation feedback from Professor Noble.

I got overall high marks! So I'm pretty happy about that. I worked really hard for my presentation (I have to really prepare myself for big presentations, or I goof up). I had made sure to work on a some key things:

  • Getting the timing right (including adding duplicates but only when necessary)
  • Showing enthusiasm/passion
  • Using body language/movement
  • Eye contact
  • Integrating humor
  • Integrating agenda
Although my presentation grade was excellent, I still feel I can improve. I asked my peers how I could improve my presentation and also made my own analysis. For next time, I want to work on:
  • Although eye contact was strong, I want to improve it even more
  • I want to tell a story
  • I want to have a lot of strong research to present, compelling information
  • Need a much stronger conclusion to my presentation—didn't prepare enough for this
  • Perhaps add more interaction with the audience?
I feel presentations are really important to do well, especially to prepare you for the professional world, where you're constantly trying to get your ideas across, persuade others, and show that you have command of the subject matter. So, I'm going to really try to improve for my final presentation!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Interview: Peter Radsliff

I remember during Portfolio Nite, I was very impressed with Peter Radsliff. Peter was an alumni of SF State many years ago, has been very successful in the industry, and currently is the CEO of his own company. I contacted him hoping that he would be able to provide insight, and he generously offered me a phone interview with him!

He gave very interesting insight and information. He agreed with me that professional practice education and experience is important. He feels that there is information out there that would really give SF State students more readiness when it comes to transitioning to the professional world—to doing interviews, to finding jobs, to functioning effectively in different types of work environments. He stressed that when design and business mix—there is politics involved, and consequently there is a way of doing things to make yourself heard.

We covered a lot of information, and one thing was for sure—there is a lot of information out there that DAI students do not learn in the department, information that would enable us to feel more prepared and to be more successful in the industry after we graduate.