Welcome to my SHINE experience.
In early 2021 I had the opportunity to join the AIGA D.C SHINE initiative.
SHINE is a program that aims to help and support the growth of upcoming creatives in the D.C. area.
As a newcomer to the US, and even though I am not a young ready-to-take-over-the-world graduate anymore, I felt it would be a great way to integrate with the local design scene and at the same time refocus on my career.
This page aims to sum up my experience as a mean to not only archive it but also as a way for future (potential) "Shiners" to get a better understanding of what they could expect even.
Starting my SHINE
PART — 1
Setting a context
The first month of SHINE went rather slowly.
Most of the time spent, either on my own or on call with Mike, my mentor, was used toward setting a better context for the work to come.
Indeed at that point I had no clue what kind of Do Good project I would go for, but also I was not sure what I wanted to do with my SHINE experience. I didn't know what I needed and wanted to get out of it, and how I would get there.
Hence most of my focus went into setting goals for myself and looking into processes and resources that would help me achieve that.
Goals for SHINE —
Make better career choices.
Work on something cool.
Back to basics
PART — 2
Back to basics
As things started to move a little I realized that part of my desire to join SHINE was to use my recent move to the USA as a (re)starting point for my career. In the past years I had the opportunity to work on a wide variety of projects in several countries. I enjoyed it yet it left me with a very mixed portfolio and set of skills that did not always align with the very specific needs of some employers.
After some discussion over the relevance of the trend for over specialization in the design field, I figured it would be interesting to get back to basic a little a proceed to refresh my foundations and acquire some knew knowledge at the same time.
Indeed my design practice is grounded into my ability to mobilise more conceptual knowledge, and I figured that expanding it while nurturing some new ways to approach my work could be of value.
During the SHINE program I purchased and read books that would:
I also learnt a lot from the AIGA webinar video archive and its extensive content. I watched some of its content to support my Do Good project but also as a self-improvement resource.
Finding the Path
PART — 3
Learning from my past
After spending hours thinking what would be a good career direction and discussing with my mentor about it I felt that I did not have enough data to make a constructed wise decision.
I looked into how I could set a proper way to map my practice and understand better where I shine and thrive. I figured the best way to achieve that would simply treat myself as a brand strategy project and analyse my career.
My first step was to try to not be too biased about it and reach out to former bosses, clients and colleague to have their perspective on who I am and what I am good or bad at at work.
It proved to be a very interesting way to get insight about myself and get rid of any blind-spots or impostor syndrome I might have at that point.
"You are highly creative, sensible and rational with a good sense of visual design.
[However] You need to work in team with creative and sensible peers [...] and [you are] likely to loose interest or not be patient with repetitive work"
K. — Former boss
The second step let to a more data oriented approach by creating a series of chart that would review all my past positions and highlight what I liked about them and how I thrived. Even if most positions were diverse in the nature of my tasks and responsibilities, doing so allowed me to aggregate the result and be able to compare them more fairly.
Visualising it that way really made some key points very noticeable like how personal enrichment and sharing were something that mattered to me more than I expected.
Doing this work did not help me select a highly specific career path, however it allowed me to somewhat layout a plan and highlight potential career paths from teaching to creative directions while making all the pros and cons, pain points and potential outcomes very clear.
For instance at this point I did not think that teaching would be a potential long term direction for me even though I already had some experience in that field.
Later on, I also found about a Practice mapping exercise from Claire Marie B, presented at World AI Day 2021 in DC. Doing it allowed to validate my self-improvement work by cross comparing the results.
Example of past position analysis
Aggregate of all position (dotted lines) VS desired career path (orange block)
"This dude [me] would make a great teacher !"
March 2nd, 2021
My name is Sisyphus
PART — 4
The never ending task of all designers
As I was rebranding myself and trying to get a more oriented career path, it became clear very quickly that I would need to also refresh my website.
So far my website was very much an embodiment of my experiences. Messy ! Filled with widely diverse work, and a little confusing to what I was looking for.
With the foundation done in the previous part I had a clearer view of what I wanted to do and how I wanted to introduce myself. Hence it was decided to clarify and simplify the body of work I would present while keeping a personal and journal section to show off my creative personality in a more controlled setting.
In early April I participated to the AIGA Creative Review to test out the beta version of my website.
Four reviewers pointed out the quality of my work, but also how I over simplified my work by not highlighting enough the specifics of my contributions in the project or the international experience that I have. Yet all of them were full of praises.
At the moment the website is not fully completed yet, but the structure is there and over the summer 2021 I'll be able to put the final touch to it ... for now !
Short but fun
After four months into the program I am pleased to see that the efforts I have put into place have paid off.
Even if I know that the outcome of initiatives like SHINE is mostly dictated by one's personal dedication to it, I am still surprised by how much traction and interest into my work I've gained along the way.
For young designers or people pivoting careers I think that an experience like SHINE can be truly helpful. For more experienced people like myself I think it offers a well needed halt on a career path. A halt that can help you strengthen your foundations and look back at your own achievements and shortcomings while helping (re)setting the proper course for your own future.
Thanks to SHINE I've managed to get to know more about the local design scene, to meet great people and get rid of some of my impostor syndrome.
My SHINE experience
in meaningless numbers
Spent on making the project happen
Hours of Zoom call
Hours of workshops and confcall
E-mail exchanged with my mentor
Hours of drone flying
New skills acquired
Zoom call per week on average
1 — I joined AIGA and its SHINE program.
2 — I read a bunch of books.
3 — I used data to analyse my past career choices and make a new plan for myself.
4 — I refreshed my website.
5 — I did a cool project and met great people.
If you are a potential future Shiner and have questions feel free to contact me.
Thank you for reading this quick sum up.
SHINE is now (technically) over but the work I've put in place is not yet.
As I'll now take my time to reach the personal goals I've set for myself in this four month program, I would like to thank Mike Bell for helping me staying focused and supporting my work, and also the AIGA DC chapter and all the great team of the SHINE initiative.
Thank you Puneet, Koi, Erin & Chelsea for all the work you've put to make SHINE happen.
Lastly I would like to thank my wife that is very patient with me especially when I have the weirdest goals and ideas.
Stay updated by following me on instagram ⟶ @studio_juliuscornelius
If you want to learn more about my overall SHINE project process you can look it up ⟶ HERE