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git it ‘n git out…gracefully

November 30, 2008

dsc00151If you take a look at my resume, (sorry I keep bringing this up, but I keep having to stare at it on a daily basis lately…) you will notice my addiction: MOVING!

In the past 11 years, I have had the opportunity to work at 10 positions in my field…in 5 cities. Don’t call me a flake! Some of these were held concurrently, so I didnt exactly change jobs every year.  Some I held for 3+ years, some for 6 months before I had the sudden urge to change my identity and move on to a more exciting city.

Now before you go questioning my dedicated work ethic, amazing talent (hee hee) or bubbly good nature, you should know that even though I was just laid-off (actually I prefer “let-go” -It makes me feel like I was set free 🙂 ) from my last job, I really have only had that happen one other time. (A similar situation where the company I was working for went belly-up)

Since we have that straight, let me get to my point. After several recent discussions with job-changing rookies (designer friends that are also victims of our horrible market), I have discovered that through my addiction of moving, I have developed a rare but extremely beneficial expertise…the graceful-yet-portfolio enriching exit!

Basically, I have learned (sometimes the hard way) how to leave a company in the highest regard and be able to collect a fabulous amount of documentation (photos, drawing files etc) of your work for your portfolio in a swift and painless way. Of course my expertise only benefits the non-pre-planners.  Those of you who systematically gather your work and document it on a regular basis will find no use of my petty tools.  However, that kind of methodological thinking is not is not a trait akin to most designers that I know. We tend to think non-linearly grasping and ingesting everything in our path in a haphazard, yet effective way…as my friend Cindy says “butterflies!”  While the butterfly approach to life is more fun, it often leads to to the necessity of super fast and precise last minute portfolio gathering.

That being said I would like to share my extensive knowledge (for what its worth) to anyone who is bored enough to read it.

Here are my 10 tips to git it ‘n git out:

  1. Politely ask permission After thanking the company for the opportunity of working with them, ask nicely if you can gather some things for your portfolio. First of all, it is the right thing to do.  Second of all, I don’t know about you, but I do not like to feel like a thief…even if it is my work. Unfortunately some offices may say no…if that is the case, shame on them. They are mean and inconsiderate. (You didn’t hear it from me.. but others may advise you to get your stuff anyway 😉 )
  2. Know your time frame and then cut it in half– an exit can’t be planned without adequate concept of time. Usually less than you think. If your exit is unplanned (ie, you get laid off or fired, canned, “let-go”) take advantage of any time you can get as quickly as possible. It has been my experience, that even if your employer says you can take as much time as you need, this usually changes quickly–it is NOT good mojo to have the no-longer-employed hanging around the office.
  3. Get your portfolio stuff first-personal desk items last-  No matter how messy your desk may be,or how many beanie babies you have lining your cubicle, leave them!… at least until you gather your portfolio stuff.  Your office will not make you leave without your treasured beanie baby collection and really, if they kick you out before you clean your desk, that is a mess you do not have to clean!
  4. Make a list – Quickly list all the projects you have worked on at the firm that you would like to have for your portfolio. This is important!  I don’t care how great of an elephant memory you have–as you begin to madly gather, chances are you WILL forget something.
  5. Choose your gathering method – Use the fastest way possible to collect your files.  I use a flash drive, but you could also upload to an FTP site.  Email and disc burning are futile efforts and should not even be passing thoughts.
  6. Organize as you down/upload – Create folders for each project with subfolders if necessary as you are collecting your info…I know it is painful, but it will be so much nicer later, believe me.  It will also help you be sure you are going through your list effectively
  7. Get the photographs and renderings first – These are the jewels of your portfolio.  Make sure you get these!  They are a GOD-ZILLION times more important than your stupid boring CAD files.
  8. Make PDFs of your drawings NOW – (as well as gathering the CAD files) – This applies specifically to Interior Design / Architecture.  Even if you have AutoCAD at home, you may not have all of the settings and programs (PDF distillers, pen settings etc).  It is best to create the PDFs at the office so layers and lineweights will plot properly.  I know this takes a while.  Chose your projects wisely.  Do the most important ones first. DO NOT attempt to clean up the drawings before creating the PDFs, they are what they are….no one looks that closely at them anyway.
  9. Double check your stuff – Periodically check the files you are gathering to make sure they have copied properly.  If it doesn’t open or can’t print correctly…it is of no use to you.  Your mission has failed.
  10. Give a final salute – Graciously thank your boss one more time.  Let them know they can contact you if they need you.  Give them your forwarding information and if the mood hits you a hug. If you are lucky, they may even throw a going away party for you.  (I had a nice one from my Chicago firm – only there 6 months and they took the whole office to Trader Vics for an evening full of menhune juice in honor of my move to sunny California—they were so fun!!–too bad Chicago was frickin’ freezing!)

Well, there you have it!  A decade’s worth of knowledge 🙂  Hope it is helpful….or at least entertaining.  Until next time…

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 30, 2008 6:56 pm

    I just backed up some jobs and files from the past few months and thought about your post. I try to make copies for myself as I close jobs, but usually I end up copying a bunch every few months. The goal is to update the portfolio over the next few days with some of my more recent stuff. Portable hard drive *only* has 29 gigs available now. Happy New Year! 🙂

    Twitter @suedecrush

  2. December 30, 2008 7:01 pm

    ah ha! you are much better at planning than i usually am! good goal though – good way to start the new year!!! 🙂 Happy New Year to you too 🙂

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