Sunday, 18 February 2018

Keep running up that mountain

It's time to lit my campfire again: I'm back in my cave of wonders. More than a year ago I wrote a recap about my experiences after a long hiatus; now this situation unravels itself again after trailing many paths. Looking back, it feels like I might have come a little closer to this mountain-top view I've been longing for. Still there's a long way to go, so I just keep running up that mountain (or hill, like the Kate Bush song). So where have I been the past year?

Sep 2016 - Feb 2017: exploring the field of Online Marketing


A very quick picture I took during the first day of my internship,
because I thought that it was funny they put me on the screen.

During my whole Bachelor's I have always felt like I wasn't quite in the right place. I was doing well in school, but I kept being 'a bit of this and that', not discovering what was truly 'mine'. Therefore I decided to embark on a year of internships. First I took half a year to dabble my feet in the world of Online Marketing, believing it would give me the communication skills and understanding that I needed to perhaps step into a new career field outside design. However, since the company I worked for developed web applications, it struck me that design would never really leave my mindset. I assisted in debugging sprees, handled some customer queries and created creative content to increase usability (e.g. creating interactive user manuals). These tasks led me to the revelation that perhaps I wasn't the typical hands-on and creative Design Engineer, but my analytical and 'people' skills could flourish very well in the field of UX-design or Design Research.

I have learnt a lot in terms of communication and consumer behaviour during my Online Marketing internship, which will always be valuable given my desire to incorporate psychological knowledge in my future career. But the best part was finding out I wasn't that lost at all with the steps I had taken so far, which led me to my next internship.


Feb 2017 - Jun 2017: finding my way in Design Research

Picture by STBY.
It took me about three months to polish up my portfolio, but it was definitely worth it, as I got myself a Design Research internship in Amsterdam. Not many people know this, but I had actually tried to apply to a few Design Studios before (around May 2016) but was rejected time after time. I completely redesigned my portfolio because of those rejections, and am happy that it worked out for the better since I needed the Online Marketing internship to realise what particular field of design truly held my interest.

My brain sometimes felt like it couldn't handle all the information-overload from the intensive research we had to do during my Design Research internship, but finally I felt like I was in the right place. I was surrounded by people who, just like me, valued academic knowledge instead of just a quick-and-dirty practical mindset. This was also the first time when I was surrounded by designers from different academic backgrounds. I also felt like I was truly doing something for the greater good given the projects dealing with global or social issues, which I hope will be something that comes back to me in my future career.

Not only did I learn about what direction I would like to go into, I also learnt about tools that gave me a head-start in my current Master's program.


Jul 2017: Mechatronics Summer School in Aachen, Germany




Despite knowing I would never really be the typical 'Design Engineer' I was schooled for, I still wanted to give it a chance by adding onto my past desire to become a Design Engineer in the medical field. My first step was already taken two years before by going to the 'Healthcare and Technology' summer school at King's College London. Keeping the design of hospital devices in mind, I thought a Mechatronics and Robotics summer school would do me good. Which was a huge challenge given my background, as the course was actually designed for 2nd year Mechanical Engineers.

The summer course confirmed that engineering really wasn't my thing, but I did pass the course. This boasted my confidence, knowing that if I set my mind to something, I could always be able to reach it. Being in Germany was really good for me, as I had missed the independence and travelling that I was so used to back in Australia and the UK. I have always flourished better in international environments, and this summer school just made me want to go abroad again.


Sep 2017 - present: MSc 'Design for Interaction' and next steps

The gap year was very good for me as I never thought I would choose this Master's program, or go back into the field of design, but here I am. I just finished my first semester, which was a huge struggle to me, but academically speaking I did very well. Just one more semester left and the big deal will begin: a year of elective modules. As part of this year, I just applied to a course called 'Behaviour Change' at University College London. Hopefully I will hear from them in 6 weeks. I know that UCL is a prestigious university with high standards, so it will be tough getting in and staying in, but for now I can only hope for the best.

I am just excited that I am taking charge of my own journey again, even though I still don't know where I am heading exactly. All I know is that I keep trying to reach the top but in the meantime I also try to enjoy the path. I've been running a lot, and especially now I find it harder to slow down. But the most important thing is that I am doing this all for me: it is because I want to learn, I want to grow, I want to reach my fullest potential. Just like this blog, the world might not know about me. I am not a 'big deal' and my social media following is mediocre, but doing all of this: writing, challenging myself creatively, pushing myself out of my comfort zone and finding my way career-wise - this is a big deal to me, and I can't wait to see what the view is from above.


P.S.: In case you haven't noticed, I cut my hair short for a year already and I'm loving it.








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