For the last 10 years, I’ve been working at making people’s concert or conference experience seamless and as if I don’t exist. As a live audio engineer, my motto was always to do such a good job that I would go completely unnoticed. If people in the audience or my client even thought of me, it meant something happened that shouldn’t have. It took time to get to the point in my career where that was consistently the case. Whether the client I worked for was Qualcomm, Intel, Reel Big Fish, Nathaniel Rateliff, or the innumerable bands and small businesses I ran tech for, my motto stayed the same: do such a good job that nobody notices I’m even there.
A similar motto went for the work I’ve been doing with storytelling during the past decade. I had spent the last seven years honing my storytelling muscles to help share people’s stories through short documentary-style filmmaking. It’s hard to explain how much work it takes to make this type of video happen. You usually don’t get to re-shoot your interviews, you have to use the correct footage that is appropriate to the narrative (no stock footage), and you have to craft the story they tell into a consumable size for people to watch and engage with without compromised the integrity of the narrative.
All this work has led me to a new path in my life: User Experience Design. To some, it might seem like a totally different direction. But to people that know me, they know that this is a natural next step. Until a year and a half ago, I had no idea that I could have a career revolving around making products and experiences better for both users and the companies I work for. For a decade now, I have been developing a lot of the foundational skills I’ve needed to become a good UX Designer today. Some of those I have learned:
- I have learned how to actually apologize
- I have learned to ask deeper questions
- I have learned it is impossible for me to know everything
- I am more aware of how my beliefs & actions impact others
- I have learned to take criticism well
- I have learned how to lead and motivate my team
- I have learned to give helpful feedback
- I have learned to adopt a growth-oriented mindset
Some might call these soft skills but there is nothing soft about being up at 5:00AM and you are tired, would prefer to be in bed, but are working with your client to make sure they are set-up to have the best conference their company has ever had. The audience’s interaction with the content is directly impacted, whether positively or negatively, by my audio & video cues being on time, the speaker’s microphone working the first time, etc.
Don’t get me wrong, I will never know enough to do a perfect job. I will always be learning as a UX Designer. And that is what makes me so excited about it. In filmmaking & live audio, the next step was either management or own my own company. Neither of them really appealed to me so here I am, five weeks into a UX Design program after moving across the country during a pandemic to make sure I can keep growing and learning how to help serve people better.