Student Success Story written by graduate Teghan Tracy
What do you do?
I am currently working on a small team at Beyond in San Francisco to design an app for Google. After the discovery phase, I led the team and client through various ideation and sketching workshops to help refine features for the app. We just finished the site map and feature set and are now moving into the prototype and design phase.
Best lesson you’ve learned in your career so far?
I still go back to some of the lessons I learned in a strategy class at BDW taught by Peyton Lindley andIvan Perez-Armendariz. They taught us about a process called AMPP (A loose definition is Assemble tech and project requirements, Map user needs to the business goals, Position your execution in the context of the brand, and Pitch) and it’s a methodology that I’ve seen being used or implemented in some fashion on many projects across multiple agencies and clients. On longer projects it’s easy to forget about who you are actually building something for and why. It’s important to have a framework like AMPP in place to help measure your work against at any point in a project.
John Keeler’s “become a digital optimist” oath that he had us take in our first week at BDW is another lesson I still reference. It’s easy to call a new app, or social trend lame and dismiss it out of fear or confusion, but when you are a digital optimist you vow to at least try the technology in an effort to understand the ways in which people find value from it. It’s a powerful mindset.
What would you do differently?
Get an internship somewhere first vs. taking a job. I suppose the grass is rarely greener, but it seems that one is afforded the ability to make safer mistakes as an intern.
What would you like to do next?
Teach, start my own thing, maybe go back to school–I just want to keep learning and working.
What advice would you give to new BDW students?
Figure out a way to get along with and work with everyone–especially those who aren’t your favorites or you don’t like. Your environment at BDW is a microcosm of the environment you’ll experience in the real world. Use the opportunity to learn how to identify people’s strengths and figure out how to work with different personalities to create good work in any environment.
Don’t get intimidated by your peers. I beat myself up a lot at BDW because I wasn’t really sure what my “skill” was. I wasn’t the best designer and I wasn’t a traditional strategist–I was a hybrid but I wasn’t ready to call myself a UX Designer. I was envious of the people who knew what they wanted and pursued it right off the bat. The truth is, it just takes time to figure it out and you have to actually do the work to uncover it.
Also, be nice and share your thoughts. Everyone has their own agenda during school and yours is probably pissing someone else off. Try to communicate your intentions to everyone often to mitigate this issue.
What advice would you give to new BDW grads?
Find mentors and people you can trust and form relationships with them– it’s important to find allies you can rely on for advice. Keep in touch with your classmates and find people with the same BDW-mindset in the workplace–it’s how you will continue to learn and grow.
What advice would you offer to people considering BDW?
Do it and be prepared for a wild ride.
What kind of person would you send to BDW?
Smart, creative, fun, risk-takers who want an opportunity to grow. Leave your ego at the door.
If you were deciding on admissions to BDW, how would you choose? And who would you not admit to BDW? And why?
I would want to talk to the people a candidate had been working with in previous jobs or projects. A person can be a great designer or developer but if they don’t know how to work with people it doesn’t matter–success at BDW and on digital stuff in general requires collaboration. No assholes.