Before I started grad school, I wrote to myself about what I was hoping to learn and become at the end of the program and would check in every semester (or so) to reflect on how it went. Three years later, here I am again starting something new.
Any teacher’s pet knows that the real start of the year is always in the Fall.
Jacklynn: 2013, 2015, 2018
Leaving my job was was a cocktail of a couple of things. I think a recent article I read by Wait But Why described it best with the yearning octopus:
We each have our own personal Yearning Octopus in our heads…The first thing to think about is that there are totally distinct yearning worlds—each living on one tentacle. These tentacles often do not get along with each other. source
I don’t know who Jeffrey Hammerbacher is beyond someone in tech people quote, but he famously said: “The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads…that sucks.” I agree. Ostensibly, I was doing well at my old job and it was challenging, but I felt like my moral tentacle was wasting away. There was a disparity between what I did at work and the world I listened to on the news (perpetual garbage fire). I thought about the skills I have and what I could do with them.
Starting on Monday, I’m going start a job in civic tech. What that means in practice, I don’t know. What I hope it means is that I will be working more directly with people to improve public services. Because I believe that design has the power to have impact, I believe I should be using design to help others.
I was the beneficiary of so many public services throughout my life. My parents getting amnesty to come here during the war, reduced lunch kept me fed, public schools, libraries, financial aid, the McNair program (which taught me how to research and prepared me for grad school), and federal grants. They weren’t all easy to use or well designed (LOOKING AT YOU, FAFSA!), but they helped me. It’s my hope that I’ll get to help make some public service easier for others.
I hope that I’ll get to do more research and talk to people in order to better represent their needs. I hope to be working on a product or service that affects more people. I hope I’m able to navigate complex social-policy problems (or learn how quickly). I hope that I can keep up with and share best practices for design & tech on the project I’m working on. I hope that I’m the worst designer on my team so that I can learn how do more. I hope to get better at communicating so that an initiative takes hold in my audience and they become as much of an advocate as myself.
Here goes nothing!
Ps. If you were wondering, this was what post-undergrad Jacklynn looked like: