You’ve Just Graduated. Now What?

Do I go find a job in design?  Do I continue the path of a product designer even though I had little interest in doing so?  Do I work from home potentially making more money than my parents straight from my room, while they struggle to keep the business alive with COVID restrictions?

These were the questions I asked myself when the moment was upon me.

None of this felt right when I graduated 2 years ago. 

Instead of following the path I thought I’d be walking right out of school, I took a turn and decided to work for my parents at our restaurant. 

However, I knew back then that the restaurant business wasn’t what I wanted to continue in the long term. I needed to get my hands on something else. 

Around the same time, Mikayla and I started working on an online platform to help designers take their creativity seriously. We called it the Habit Factory. It’s been my pride and joy, and we’re in the process of opening up a new 14 day workshop to help UX Designers and Researchers land their first role in the industry. Sign ups have begun already. You can check out the UX Interview Sprint here:

The Habit Factory was my chance to stay connected with the creative industry. Deciding to work with my parents felt right (and 2 years later I’m glad to say that I made that decision).

Any advice for following a linear lifelong career path is dead in 2022. We’ve got options for success and sustainable happiness. It doesn’t have to stem from one type of job or a specific industry you’ve invested previous time into.

Go Find A Job They Said

Earlier this week a lady with her 20-something year old son came up to the counter at our restaurant and struck up some conversation with me. She asked, “Why don’t you have a real job?” 

Okay, rude—the first thought that came to mind.

The second thought came to mind was that this lady, like many others who have said similar things to me, feels sorry for me. For context, I must look like I’m struggling if all I can do at 24 is work in an old run-down food court stall with mom and dad.  

Why don’t I have a real job was not the question. 

The real question I think she wanted to ask was, why aren’t I chasing the image of success that the previous generation set out for us? Our immigrant parents didn’t come to this country so that I could work beside them. They moved to Canada so that their children didn’t have to work as hard as they did. They wanted social status, nice things, powerful titles, respect from their peers. 

I think we all want our own version of social status, nice things, powerful titles, and respect from our peers, but through our own means. 

15 years ago, the status quo for young people was to graduate from school and get a job that was related to our field of study. 

That’s all changed in the past decade.  

Turns out, finding a job that was related to our field of study isn’t the only path to living a good life. 

Instead, we can do more. We’re more flexible than we think. We can find happiness and success through smaller, less-than-grand moments too. 

To that I say, I couldn’t be more proud helping my family run our Chinese restaurant. 

Happy Lunar New Year to those who celebrate. 

Reference Points

After spending 4 or 5 years in a specific educational institution surrounded by specific people with similar interests, we’ve created mental reference points for ourselves. That is, if we haven’t reached certain milestones like landing an internship at a major tech firm, moving out of our parent’s homes, marriage, getting a “real job”, doing freelance work for major clients, moving onto higher level education (and the list goes on), then we feel misplaced or left behind.

Sometimes what we need is a reminder that there’s much more on offer than what our peers, family members, or colleagues are doing.

What we see is such a small, narrow tangent of reality. 

We’d be robbing ourselves of all the chances we could take to move onwards if we choose to fixate on such a thin string of the world.