Category Archives: People

Yeah, Its Messy but its Happy Hour, aka Team Building

I don’t know if theres a better all-around team building event outside of a happy hour. Remember thats considering cost, time and outcome as the determining factors of calling it better than like a real excursion. It sometimes gets messy (not always as down and dirty as the picture with this blog post) but thats the aspect of letting your hair down with your co-workers and having fun.

Even if someone doesn’t drink, thats ok. Its called “Happy Hour” not “Drink Alcohol Hour” (which sounds sort of fun too, to me at least). We’ve had people attend and not drink alcohol. There’s usually a slough of appetizers and random good eatin’ that gets ordered and passed around. Between all the food you can handle, maybe a delicious virgin drink (get creative with it if you don’t just want a coke or iced tea) and all the funny banter and talking shit on clients, what’s not to enjoy even if you’re dead sober?

This particular happy hour we were celebrating 3 project deployments which is a great way to get something on the board, to celebrate team success.  Now, we’re pretty casual so we just winged the happy hour and let everyone chat but you can even go more structured and really talk about the projects and almost lead the conversation in certain ways to really get your ROI on that happy hour. I’m not sure how I feel about that but the idea floats around my head sometimes as a way to really ensure your attendees have that opportunity to vent about those projects because this is when you want them to bitch about that client instead of during business hours at the office.

Scouting Local Design graduates at their senior show

Senior shows are a great place to easily and efficiently check out a lot of potential candidates. Now that I’ve been more accountable for hiring, going through the process of posting a job, screening people, and interviewing candidates is a bit of a … lets keep this positive… a crazy shit-show, when you’re also trying to do your normal work too.

A senior show is a such a relief. You can literally walk around and have mini-interviews with these soon-to-be graduates, which is a great first-level screening process. Its not too hard to get a feel for their passion (or lack of), design careers direction, attitude, and personal interests. This saves me about 20-40 hours of email, resume hunting, scheduling coordination, and phone chats.

Some times, like this latest one at San Jose State Univ,, there’s a website where you can view the students, their bio, and a link to their portfolio. I love that. I put it on our design team to review all candidates and pick out the top 5 people for us to aggregate and go after. But its not real surprise that when we got to the show our opinions changed a bit based on our interactions with them. Maybe next time, I’ve save the up-front time of reviewing them and just go to the show with the expectation of talking to every single person and taking it from there.

For the record, I will say I was a bit shocked at some of the lack of digital or motion knowledge that the students had (or should I say “received from their instructors”). One question I asked every student was, ” Do you know what 4k is?” Only 1 student even tried to answer, and even that 1 student just knew it was a type of high video resolution. The kick in the balls was that this whole graduating class just went through a motion graphics class, where their project was produced at some small size like 900×600 (or thats at least what most students tried to tell me when I asked, but the really didn’t know). I just feel like the size of the “composition” in after effects is one of the first things to discuss. How the hell did this instructor not at least chat about that, or better yet, require these kids to produce their motion graphic piece at 1080p? Hello, the real world called. How far removed are college instructors today???  Maybe after 2 good startup buy-outs, I’ll feel comfortable enough to go teach college…. that article is to come!!!

Behance’s Company Pages seem like a Great Way to Catch Designer’s Attention

Last year I noticed Behance started introducing company pages where multiple designers can associate their work to their company’s page. This immediately made me think about attracting design talent by them seeing all the cool range of work that our company handles and how it can help them get the coolest portfolio.

I like to promote the fact that our company will help grow a designers portfolio like no place else. And sometimes thats hard to show a potential hire without having to whip out a powerpoint presentation and start showing mockups. The behance page seemed like the thing to easily shoot a designer, or even put in the job posting for them to go checkout. (I’m tired of just having people checkout our website because I hear too many weird things which makes sense because potential hires is our sites target audience)

After asking the design team if they would want to pursue a behance page for their portfolio, which they answered yes, I took this a little more seriously and figured out a way for us to ensure we load up that company page. I asked the project management lead to give the design team 2 fridays off of client work over the course of 2 months. She didn’t really baulk at it and just essentially skipped those friday’s in our project plans, almost like a holiday. I planned with the design team to have a behance day, and we figured out which projects to try and tackle. The days were pretty relaxing, even though creating a portfolio page is always tricky (us designers are so picky when it comes to presenting our work… probably like a model getting dressed in the morning… or not, that just came to me) After those 2 fridays, the company page is now loaded with over 10 new projects ranging from mobile apps, tablet apps, data widgets, video walls, motion graphics, social media, etc. It was also the perfect timing because we were wanting an intern after the first of the year and were seeking out local colleges for talent … we’ll shall see.

And it was a great way to start playing with final projects and products in a marketing manner, like how to position them in real environments and make them look super sexy for when we want to start using them in our real company marketing material.

Portfolio Shows & Stalking College Design Talent

Staying connected to the local colleges that have design departments is a bit tedious but an important task that I try to fit in.  There almost needs to be some mechanism or website that fulfills this need. Now, I’m just relying on Facebook and hoping those design programs are posting about upcoming shows or related news. There’s way too many talented college students who could truly benefit from experience like an internship or even talking to professionals in the real word and get some key advice.

At one portfolio show I was surprised to be the only person there from an outside company. There was just the students and few professors. I admit I was taken back by that, and when I approached the professors afterwards, they were almost surprised I showed up. I thought that might be the point of these shows. At my university, our senior show was advertised to every single agency and design firm in  a 100 mile area … and about half of us got internships and interviews.

I do feel like a bit of a stalker having to follow the schools on Facebook and then when I see a picture of work hanging up, I almost want to comment and ask if it’s a public show. Here I am, practically begging to get in there and catch some of this talent … BUT shouldn’t that be the other way around? I would absolutely love it if I had department heads at these design programs contacting me on a regular basis to discuss opportunities for their kids, or asking me to come in and talk about digital media and real world projects. Hmmm, I think I have a new goal. I’ll make this happen soon.