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April 07, 2006

Jobs in experience design

Over the last couple of months I have attended "career days" events at two schools: Carnegie Mellon's School of Design, and UC Berkeley's School of Information.

It's a little weird going to these events, because Adaptive Path is typically much smaller than the other folks who show up (whether other design companies like Frog, or web companies like Ebay and Yahoo and Google).

One of the things that continues to puzzle me is why most of these companies want to put prospective candidates in a little box. Here was the extent of our table at the event:

It's too bad I didn't photograph other tables, laden with job descriptions with their bullet-pointed lists of qualifications and responsibilities.

The students at these schools typically have a range of skills across experience design and product development. In fact, one of the main draws of programs like CMU and Berkeley's iSchool is that it appeals to a multidisciplinary person. And these students are often frustrated during these events, because prospective employers want to put them in a box, and many tell the students that they have to choose what they want to focus on. So if you have skills in both design research and interaction design, you can only go with one or the other...

I know why these companies do it -- operationally and financially it makes things easier for the people running the company. But, it also exposes the plug-and-play mentality of these companies, that they really do see people as interchangeable cogs in their machines.

One of the things that GK and I agreed on is the foolishness of compartmentalizing skills into job titles. It's such a throwback to a older model of management, and it surprises me how otherwise leading edge companies continue to practice it.

And, really, it wouldn't take much to alter such systems to accommodate for multidisciplinary folks. Experience design and product development are such synthetic disciplines, and people practicing it inevitably have varied backgrounds, approaches, skills, and interests. To not acknowledge that; hell, to not embrace that is the height of foolishness.

Posted by peterme at April 7, 2006 10:46 PM

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