Thursday, December 13, 2012

Farewell (sort of)

I can’t believe that it’s been nearly ten years since I began the job which I left today. I remember the day I interviewed for the position -- I was beyond sick. I had a low fever and was constantly coughing, yet I drove the nearly 100 miles for the mere opportunity to interview for what I figured to be my next step. The interview itself was long. I think it clocked in at just under two hours.

My first day at the job which I am leaving was a typical February morning. It was cold because this is Minnesota. I sucked at my job. In reality I am, at best, a jack of many trades and far from a master at any of them but I make things work. In the field of Graphic Design I had won a couple awards which, to me, meant I might have a future at this. Sure, my typing skills are less than amazing and I sometimes confuse deep shades of brick red with shades of brown (I am only slightly color blind, a test in school confirmed it) but I still made it all work. I am surprised that they kept me after the 90-day probationary period. I still wonder how I’ve managed to keep this job in particular over what has been a very turbulent ten years.

Whatever the case, my direct supervisor took a chance on me and I thank her for that. I suppose, too, that she took a stand in defending my value to the company more than once when incredibly tough decisions had to be made regarding layoffs. Others, too, must have seen some promise in this barely-capable graphic designer who often thinks he’s better suited returning to southern Minnesota to run the family farm.

Not long after it was announced that I would be staying on after those initial 90 days I started trying to improve my design skills. I developed a great friendship with one of my fellow designers in particular and we had an almost bitter rivalry as we competed to “win” certain projects. We competed so much that we forced each other to try every new technique we could learn. It got heated and, at times, we got downright mad at each other but at the end of the day we were still friends.

As things in the media landscape evolved, so did my skills. I was chosen for numerous committees and teams which shaped the future of the company. I was given the time and freedom to learn as we went along. I learned all things online. With the help of the company’s very patient IT guy I learned Drupal. He also helped me learn the foundations of Wordpress which is my go-to choice for websites these days.

Then there’s the online publisher. He, too, must have seen some potential in me as we had sporadic meetings and conversations as our online division grew and evolved. He tasked me with developing creative solutions for whatever came up that he secretly knew I could figure out even when I had no idea what I was doing and doubted that I could figure out some sort of workable solution. Throughout the last six or seven years he was my online safety net. He knew the struggles I faced as the company changed and he knew I was growing both frustrated and becoming uncertain.

It happens to everyone, I suppose, but in the end I wouldn’t be moving forward if it wasn’t for the past nearly ten years. I am not leaving graphic design behind and even though I sometimes bitched a blue streak about the challenges and uncertainty I faced, I think I will miss the changing media landscape -- mainly because, deep down, I like a good challenge and the past ten years have been more challenging than I ever imagined.

I will certainly miss the small work family which we developed over the past ten years. I was trained in those first days by some amazingly talented and knowledgeable designers and I never would have imagined that years later I’d be the one training them on skills I had developed.

At my going-away party it was mentioned during a speech by management that I was one of the most valued people within the company -- my leadership and knowledge of all things online would be nearly impossible to replace as I wore so many hats.

I have joked numerous times in the past two weeks that hopefully they’ll hire me back in a few weeks when I crash and burn at my new job and have to come crawling back, begging for a job. Maybe it’s the healthy dose of doubt in my mind that keeps me moving forward. Whatever the case, the general manager requested that I keep in touch because he finds me and my stories interesting. If nothing else, I hope I made some sort of impression on the people and the company. I guess that’s a good thing, right?

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