If We Could Turn Back Time

If We Could Turn Back Time

Annette Ferrara
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When you're fresh out of school, your career possibilities can seem endless. So endless, in fact, it can be hard to know where to start. We feel you. We’ve been there. To help you enter the brave new world of design feeling a bit more surefooted, we asked a few of our most senior creatives—even our CEO (!)—what piece of advice they’d share with their younger selves. With over 75 years of professional experience between them, we think they know a thing or two.

1. Ditch the Plan

Don't try to build a 20-year plan—or even a two-year plan. The world is changing too fast. Figure out what you’re interested in right now and what the most interesting opportunities are in front of you and pursue those. Aaron Ferber, Mechanical Engineer & Portfolio Director, @ IDEO since 2007

2. Just Do It

Don’t be paralyzed by making the “right choice.” Just make some decisions. While you’re working on one thing, don’t stop looking for your next thing. Don’t wait for others to offer you opportunities. Create your own stepping stones. —Erin Henkel, Service Design Portfolio Director, @ IDEO since 2006

3. I.D. Your Obi-Wan

Find someone you admire and follow his or her advice. —Andrew Burroughs, Mechanical Engineer & Partner, @ IDEO since 1992

4. Make Like Magellan

Make time to travel. It might be a cliché, but getting out of your own culture makes you more mindful and observant. You question everything you once took for granted. When my own children are trying to figure out what direction to take their lives next, I tell them, "Take out your passports. It’s time to book a trip." Tim Brown, CEO, @ IDEO since 1987 (before it was IDEO)

So, young designer, you have your degree and now you have our advice. Time to bravely leap into your career with both feet and an open mind. Or, in the words of the ever-wise Yoda: "Do. Or do not. There is no try."

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Annette Ferrara
Experience Director
An Experience Director at IDEO Chicago with a background in writing and live performance, Annette believes in the power that memorable stories, meaningful rituals, and thoughtful environments have in creating happy, thriving communities.
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