Design Grad Alumni Reunion

Okay, so I mostly went to the alumni reunion party for the free food. When you’re chin deep in loans, “free” is the magic word.

After the food and a drink or two, we convened for some Q&A with a panel of alumni. I don’t remember any of the names (I’m so bad with names), but I was very impressed with their present positions and what they’ve accomplished.

One question I have been asking myself that came up again as I was listening to the experience of the alumni was “am I going to be able to do what these people have done?”

I have been asking myself this as I’ve seen what some of the second-year graduates have done, and even when looking at some of the work of my first-year classmates. Some of it blows me away and I can’t help but have a bit of doubt.

That’s normal, I’m sure. So my point isn’t about thinking I’m not good enough. It’s that I’m still in a bit of denial about where I am, and what I am becoming. I feel absolutely humbled to find myself within the interaction design program (as sleepless as it may be).

One alumnus called us the “cream of the crop.” Me? No way.

I mean, fuck yeah.

Trouble Explaining What We Do

Someone asked if the panelists ever had a hard time describing what it is they do, either to employers, clients, or their parents. Yes was the answer. Several of the panelists then described different approaches for explaining what they do.

It’s interesting that as communication planners and interaction designers, which I would imagine have a good command of communication and being articulate, we cannot say what it is we do (I have a hard time, too).

I wonder what the problem is, and why we keep trying to explain what we do. Is it because what we do is constantly changing?

One alumna even said she never marketed herself as a communication planner. Instead, she uses the term strategist.

Is it about finding a term people understand? Will there be a time when I can say I’m an interaction designer and people will know what I’m talking about (or a time when I will know what I’m talking about)?

I also noticed the various acronyms used for interaction design: ID, IntDes, IxD. There seems to be a lack of cohesion. Perhaps it’s growing pains.

Until very recently Carnegie Mellon had been using ID to refer to the interaction design program. But they changed it to IntD. Wikipedia lists both IxD and ID. So I’m not sure what’s up with this new contender.

I like IxD the best. It’s used by the Interaction Design Association, and it contains an “x.” And that’s damn sexy.