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Cognition

Career

We’ve written 23 blog posts about Career. View all topics »

  1. Everything I Know About the Web I Learned on the Job

    When I graduated college with an English and Fine Arts Degree, my school’s career services office didn’t know what to do with me. They handed me a giant book of jobs for English majors. Nothing interested me, but I wasn’t going to let some lady in a university office dash my dreams. I went to Monster.com and found what seemed to be my dream gig at a startup. I applied, selling myself as a creative type eager to learn anything and everything.

    I got that job over 15 years ago, and I’m happy to report that that description of me still hasn’t changed. I’ve always wanted to learn on the job, and I still do. Somehow, I’ve made a career in an industry perfect for learning while working.

  2. Crossing the Threshold

    We’ve added a few new faces here at Happy Cog, and though I just recently celebrated my four-month Coggiversary, our rapid growth has me feeling a bit like a veteran rookie. Working without the “this is my first job!” crutch can be terrifying. So, I can’t help but wonder: Where’s the advice for us post-post-grads?

    There’s a slew of great industry articles aimed to help concerned college students or recent grads with how to “land that first big job” or “get your foot in the door,” but what happens once you’re already inside? Luckily, you are more prepared and confident this time around, and can apply the experience you’ve gained over the past few years.

  3. For Shame.

    Our profession’s affection for public shaming is well-documented.

    Following morning exercises atop the Bauhaus, Johannes Itten lined his students at rooftop’s edge, held aloft their previous day’s work, and, before a gathered crowd, publicly humiliated each of his young students. While students showed significant improvement and other instructors adopted Itten’s pedagogy, the practice came to an official end in 1928. Tragically, a student stepped over the edge when Itten, still storming through a particularly scathing admonishment, thundered that the boy “lacked contrast of soul.”

  4. Stand on One Foot and Other Public Speaking Tips

    7/11/13

    by Jenn Lukas

    0 Responses

    This is my last week at Happy Cog. I’ve coded a lot of websites in my six-plus years here, but I’ve also written and spoken a lot about coding websites. At Happy Cog, you are encouraged to put yourself out there and share what you know, which can be totally awesome, terrifying, and sometimes confusing. When I first started speaking, I, like many others, was in the “terrified” camp. I told this to my then-HC-co-worker, Dan Mall, and he said something along the lines of: “If you get nervous, stand on one foot.” Of course, I thought this was some kind of sure joke, but then he continued, “You’ll have to focus all of your efforts on not falling over that you’ll forget to be nervous.” Some of the best advice I’ve ever received.

  5. Hey Hoy!

    6/13/13

    by Greg Hoy

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    Before I published a few posts and contributed to a podcast or two offering lo-fi career advice, I never got emails from strangers asking me for my opinion about their particular career dilemmas. Now I am receiving them with enough frequency that we might be onto something. So indulge me as we launch the first installment of “Hey, Hoy!” my (hopefully) semi-regular career advice column.

    The theme for this week? Don’t keep your manager in the dark. They’re there to help you. Let them.

  6. What I Wish I Had Known When I Graduated College

    Last week, Greg Storey and I attended the Senior Exit Review at Texas State University. We were both blown away by the quality of work and were incredibly jealous that these students got to learn so much about the web in college. It made me think back to when I graduated and how confused I felt about, well, everything. Looking back at what I’ve learned since then, I came up with the following list of what I wish someone had told me at the time:

  7. Those who teach, learn.

    At Happy Cog, we take pride in our work teaching others and sharing what we’ve learned. Whether by speaking at a conference, leading a class, or writing on this very blog, we’ve taught or shared our knowledge on best practices for web design and development, user experience design, business advice, and even the occasional informal primer on animated GIFs.

    When someone at Happy Cog tells me that they’re teaching a class for Girl Develop It or a local university, or a workshop at a conference, my first response to them is one of encouragement. Then, I say: The best way to get better at what you do is to teach others how to do it, too.

  8. Invisible or Inspired?

    While the rest of our coworkers are creating design and code, we PMs focus on the intangibles. Deadlines, documentation, resourcing—it’s not exactly sexy. When a website launches, the first reactions you hear aren’t “Amazing site—must have had a great PM.” PMs are often the last to get the glory and the first ones to get knocked down when something goes wrong. It can be easy to feel like Mr. Cellophane if you don’t have the right perspective.

  9. So Why Should I Speak Publicly?

    No matter who you are or how much time you’ve spent in the field, you have unique experiences that have shaped you and helped you to grow. And you may not realize it yet, but you can have a tremendous impact upon others just by sharing your expertise. Its time for you (yes, you) to enter the realm of public speaking. If you can find the right audience, they will eagerly listen and learn.

  10. Before You Hit Send: A Few Honest Tips for Job Seeking Designers

    Hiring a new designer is exciting. The hiring process is not. As someone who has recently been on the receving end of hundreds of applications, I’m noticing a few alarming trends. New graduate or seasoned veteran, it doesn’t seem to matter.

  11. Always

    For this week’s installment of Cognition, I thought I’d share some random thoughts as the president of a small company. Some I heed, some I need to heed.

  12. Please Put Down the Device & Let’s Just Talk

    Warning, if you are reading this in a meeting STOP! Put down your mobile device or laptop and slowly lift your head and eyes upward until you see (and hear) the person speaking!

  13. Holiday Gifts For the Young Web Designer Who Doesn’t Have It All

    The field of web and application design is deep into a fantastic and complex evolutionary stage. Browsers have adopted more support than ever for the same standards, yet the bleeding edges of those standards are constantly staining our screens with new approaches to the ways we interact with information. Platforms, frameworks, methods, and opinions about them are myriad. It can all be a little intimidating for someone just getting off of the school bus.

  14. Designing a Presentation

    In my list of career goals, “Public Speaking” was somewhere towards the bottom, under the heading: “Save for Later.” I imagined the audience would fall asleep, the floor would turn to lava, and I’d be left clinging to the lectern while the scathing tweets were projected onto the wall behind me. Terrifying. Despite these fears, I made my speaking debut three weeks ago, along with two of my colleagues, Michael “MJ” Johnson and Allison Wagner, at AIGA Philly’s 3rd Pencil 2 Pixel presentation.

  15. Escape the Fear Factory

    With my Pittsburgh roots comes a 30+ year fandom of the NHL hockey team the Pittsburgh Penguins. But one of my favorite Pens memories didn’t happen during a game; it was actually a text message. A message sent by owner and legendary player, Mario Lemieux, to the team and coaches before decisive game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Cup finals.

  16. Fix Recruiting

    A recruiter emailed me recently. I was selected for a role because I had experience with the software “Adobe”… Recruiters. Such a disaster. AMIRITE?!?!?

    Hold on there, let’s pump the brakes on the generalizations a bit. Recruiters, like designers or developers or content strategists, hail from a variety of backgrounds, have a wide range of capabilities, and deliver varying degrees of value and results. For many people, a relationship with a recruiter is the catalyst for opportunities that reshape a career.

  17. Attack of the Client Services Zombies

    Khoi Vinh recently shared some inspiring insights on the evolution of opportunities for design professionals in the digital realm in a post entitled The End of Client Services. He has, as of the time of this publishing, since revisited and revised his thoughts. If you haven’t read these posts, you should, because it’s good stuff. I’ll wait.

  18. Save Ferris!

    I’m not gonna lie. On a bad day, I can be a bit like Cameron from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

    Note: If you were born after 1986 or just don’t like movies and don’t get the reference, Cameron is like Eeyore. If you don’t get that reference, there is no helping you.

  19. Illustration by Yesenia Perez-Cruz

    What’s the ROI on Cool?

    Industry creative folks I’m friends with personally and respect professionally have uttered the following to me on multiple occasions:

    “I want to make cool shit.”

    I’ll be honest, I just don’t get it. To be fair, it’s safe to say I don’t get “cool” in general. I routinely dress like I’m headed to a corporate team-building ropes course, and I’m still waiting for Firefly to be picked up for season 2. So maybe it’s no surprise that the quest for cool escapes me. I don’t get the allure of making something cool for the sake of it being cool. Further, I don’t understand how you sell that to clients, or more importantly, why they would pay for it.

  20. Suit Illo by Yesenia Perez-Cruz

    The Cult of Personalities

    In a service industry like ours, we work with a lot of people. Certain people bring out the best in us; others, not so much. Consider your last difficult workplace exchange. How would that encounter have been different if you had a better sense of your own personality? What if you understood the person you shared the encounter with better?

  21. Face the money

    Face the Money

    I think I started holding down jobs when I was in the fifth or sixth grade. It started simple—a newspaper route in glorious Mark, Illinois, population somewhere around 250-300. Believe it or not, there were two paper routes in this little village. Mark had lots of hills, but also lots of great people—and even a couple of first generation Italian immigrants—who made the route worthwhile. It wasn’t just about the cash money to buy Atari 2600 cartridges and fireworks I received from them; it was often about those homemade lemon cookies made from a recipe that probably never existed on paper.

  22. Working Remotely

    The Challenges of Working Remotely

    Last Monday, Happy Cog’s Greg Hoy led a SXSW session about company culture. I wasn’t able to attend SXSW this year, but Leslie Camacho wrote up a detailed summary of the session. Of particular interest to me was the discussion about working remotely.

  23. Contempt and Caring

    “The last thing you need to do is see Jim Avery. He’s two doors down.”

    That was the department chair’s way of saying that our meet-and-greet was finished and that I needed to go. She was polite about it, but my stomach was still churning from nerves and stress. Thirty minutes prior to this meeting, I had decided to abandon my long-ago-decided path of pursuing an art degree in favor of a degree in advertising because 1) Advertising was the only department that offered a few graphic design courses and 2) the Art department had just royally pissed me off.