This month I’ve been thinking a lot about work process and my future with my new company. Really starting getting into some work. After being here a month I realize how much of a refresher it is to be able to breathe. No feeling like I have to “do busy work” to feel like I’m making a difference. Every day has a purpose, and I really do feel like my opinions are valued and actioned. I passed my 1-month mark on April 15, and we’re zooming by! Here are a few things I’ve been thinking about lately as all of this is happening.
As we ramp up to begin planning for the software’s next version release, it’s starting to get busier. Even though I’m only just starting, some conversations are truly mentally taxing. I need to be mindful to step away from the computer for breaks and at the end of the day. I’m truly enjoying the intellectual stimulation I’m getting from my new job, learning a lot more about technical hardware, all the while ramping up with rigid software development processes and thinking critically about the work I’m going to be doing.
As the warmer weather approaches I feel grateful. It’ll give me more of a reason to really disconnect and make sure I get fresh air every day. With this kind of job I’m really seeing the creative benefits of being able to stepping away from the screen. Coming back with my mind refreshed gets me sooooo fired up for my work!
A real future
Things are a lot different here. I was given the breathing room to learn about the product at my own leisurely pace. At the same time, I learned about what my manager has hopes for me to contribute to and what the expectations of me are. I spent a good amount of time with him figuring out how we’ll work together. We’re learning a lot more about each other pretty fast. Quickly developing a rapport with him where I feel candid about sharing thoughts is also giving me a huge peace of mind. And I learned from my last job that this is something I really need with my manager in order to feel heard, and to feel at peace.
This company makes me feel like I really have room to contribute meaningfully to its future. There are heavily documented processes (almost everyone in the company is doing documentation to some form or another). Despite that, I’m being given the opportunity to help forge a future for the design facet of our team. Being the only designer in a team with 5 other developers gives me those reigns. I will be making bigger decisions for design. But also with power comes responsibility! Which I seem to also love, so buckle up I shall! 🙂
Something that this is leading to is it’s really having me start to think critically about what I want my next steps to be career-wise. For the longest time, my dream job goal was to simply have a remote-work lifestyle. But now that COVID-19 has fast-forwarded all of us into this situation, I need to figure out next steps while I have this advantage.
Now that I have a remote-work job (at least, for now) – what can I do?
Striving for purpose each day
During my 1:1’s with my manager, none of our conversations were just asking how things were going. Every conversation, even though some might not have originally had a purpose (e.g. weekly 1:1 check-ins), they still ended up always being meaningful. I learned a little bit about the company, my manager and/or my team every time. I have great feelings about this!
Asking my teammates for help has been a big part of getting me up to speed. I have a growing list of terms and vocabulary to learn. Each day I knock off a couple of them in a session with one of my teammates.
Aside from my job, it’s already the 4th month out of the year. So I wanted to reflect on some of the goals I originally had at the beginning of 2021.
Some of my goals might be changing now because of the turn my career took. Part of me wants to focus on this new job. I think it’s going to give me the experience I really want. The team I work in follows a rigid software design process. I’m thankful to become a part of it.
Seeking role models
The desire to seek a mentor has long been on my list of things to figure out how to do. I’ve never really understood how people outside of school could find one easily. Until I realized that my reason was that every place I worked at didn’t have any experts in my field. I was “the expert” in my craft out of everyone I worked with.
Working at my new job definitely puts me in a place where, thankfully, there’s one other designer who is willing to pass down knowledge. It’s not a lot, but it’s a step forward. The reason I say it’s not a lot isn’t that the designer isn’t some well-known person. And it isn’t because he hasn’t forever been on my list of famous people who I want to study. It’s because I’m trying to find a representation of myself in others lately. My goal is to find someone who is Asian, female, and an entrepreneur and might have experienced similar struggles as me growing up.
There are a lot of accomplished people in this demographic out there, I’m sure. I’ve been trying to connect a bit more with my own roots. I’ve been listening to a cheesy sounding (but very successful) podcast called Asian Boss Girl. Although I can’t personally relate directly to some of the topics the girls chat about, it inspires me to find more of myself in other people.
The more I listen to the podcast, the more I notice there are semblances and similarities in our lives. And I haven’t yet dug deeper into their content. I’d like to research some of the people that they talk with and about in their shows.
I still think I need to find more relation to the Vietnamese side of my life. And maybe with someone who came from a less traditional place. I grew up in a different way from the rest of my fellow Asian peers. And I have frequently felt like a bit of an outcast in that respect. But all that to say, I think I have maybe a freer mindset than my traditional counterpart.
The reading bandwagon
I want to learn more about what my parents’ past were like too. I want to continue on the reading journey that I began last year. Seeing life in the shoes of an Asian American immigrant.
- It’s Not Like It’s a Secret
- The Sympathizer
- The Woman Warrior
- Asian American Dreams
I have a couple others on my list that are more self-improvement type reads. I won’t be bummed out if I don’t get to this year. But eventually I’ll pick them up 🙂
- Ask for More
- The Freelancer’s Bible
- War of Art
- The Design of Everyday Things
- Bhagavad Gita
Drawing and art
I’ve now been doing digital drawing since the spring of 2020. I feel like I’ve really progressed a lot since my beginning drawings… I think it’s important to have goals for my hobbies so I don’t frequently fall off the bandwagon. But at the same time I also want to just enjoy the therapeutic nature of painting something on my iPad.
One thing I definitely want to improve on is refining my illustrations. My process is very chaotic and messy! I want to figure out how I can refine it and give it the polish it needs to become more of a finished product. The artwork I make tends to always look incomplete. My longterm goal is to eventually product complete pieces that I’m proud to showcase.
While it was fast, I had some good takeaways for myself this month.
I need to continue to be mindful of my time on-screen. Because of the nature of this job, it’s not the hamster wheel-like busy work I had to do at my last job. Where “being busy was a good thing”. This is legitimately a job where I feel like I can make a difference every day.
That feeling is accompanied by hours of sitting in front of my screen. Brainstorming and writing things down, not realizing where the time’s went. It’s detrimental to the body. I’ve resolved not to work over the weekend or after 5pm on week nights if I don’t think it’s required.
Finding a mentor or role model is coming more to front of mind. Especially with my new manager being a great candidate for one. I definitely have someone whose mindset I can adopt and learn from. But I want more, not just for the career aspect of my life. I’m hoping the books I read this year will be inspiring to help me find someone who is more like me.
I’ve been purposefully drawing to improve for a year now. And I want to be able to enjoy my newfound talent while just honing the practise. I don’t need a big goal for now. Refining my finished drawings is a good place for me to start. I need to polish and finish my drawings before moving onto the next!