When I was preparing to graduate college in 2010, we had a mandatory portfolio review through AIGA in Durham. I remember sitting in a glass conference room, with all my design work laid out, bright-eyed and anxiously waiting for all the reviewers to come through. After meeting with the reviewers that were assigned to me, I remember leaving with a bunch of business cards and thinking I would never see any of them again. I added all of them on LinkedIn like any responsible new graduate would do, but little did I know that one of the reviewers would be my future boss.
It all started with a LinkedIn message
Fast forward six years to 2016, I was freelancing and taking a break from the fast-paced world of startups. Out of the blue, I receive a message on LinkedIn from one of the women, Jessica Cox, who reviewed my work back in 2010 and she asked me if I would be interested in interviewing for a production designer position at Red Hat. When I realized that I wasn't imagining things and that this was a real message, I immediately replied YES and never looked back.
My first year at Red Hat was all about learning. Learning about my role as a production designer, the brand, the technologies, and what it meant to be a Red Hatter. I was also learning about my team, Creative Strategy + Design. From day one, I felt like I had found my people and there was never a moment in time where I felt like I didn't belong. I felt like I finally found my place in the design world.
My second year at Red Hat was all about growth. I was promoted out of my production designer role onto the core design team. With that promotion, I was put on larger projects, took on more responsibilities, attended a conference, and was being given more freedom to define how I contribute to the marketing organization.
I took on two of the most challenging projects in my career to date: illustrating an entire article series from scratch while feeling like I had no idea how to illustrate and being the lead designer for a main stage executive keynote at our largest event of the year, Red Hat Summit. I was challenged and I was pushing my skill set as a designer, while quietly freaking out at my desk most days because I was scared I was going to fail. Good news though, I didn't fail. Want to know why? Because I work with a group of extremely talented people who supported, encouraged, and mentored me along the way.
With that said, the main things I took away from my second year are how thankful I am to work alongside people who believe in me and give me the opportunities to grow my career, and that finding a team that supports you and that you truly enjoy being around every day is in my opinion, success.
Year two and beyond
As I approach my third year I know that new challenges will arise and that new responsibilities are on the horizon. Mainly I am looking forward to the development of Open Studio beyond the blog and community meetings, the new office space coming in 2019 and showing the rest of the creative world what Open Studio has to offer.
It goes without saying that my last 2.5 years at Red Hat have been nothing short of incredible. I once had a professor that told me, "When you enjoy what you do, you will never work another day in your life," and that phrase has never rang more true than now. And to think, it all started with a LinkedIn message.