Life After Apprenticeship

By Francisco BailaOn February 25, 2016

When I was finishing my apprenticeship here at Subvisual I wrote a blog post about how it went and especially about what I learned during that period. It has been quite some time now, and I felt it was the right moment to write about how this experience has been.

When I stepped out of college I needed to do real work and someone to believe in me. In my apprenticeship's last day I sat with the guys and they asked me if I wanted to stay working at Subvisual. It was a Friday and the following Monday I was going to be a Subvisual's Craftsman. Awesome, right? Right. Until Sunday, after the whole celebration, when I began to question myself if I was up to this company and the challenges that were coming. In the final weeks of the apprenticeship, I was feeling a lot more confident to face the real world than when I left college. I gained a set of tools I didn't have but still, you are simply not ready until you are doing it.

I was not feeling ready, but I wanted really hard to make a good impression and be a valuable team member. Next Monday morning I came to the office and Roberto told me I was going to work on Creators School's communication with João. My concerns about not being up to the task added some pressure but then I felt some relief because I would not be working alone with the whole responsibility for myself.

The work I was doing was not bad. It had quality, but a problem was quite noted: my speed (or the lack of it). There are things that can't be taught or learned and speed is one of them. Speed comes with experience and that's a thing I don't have but I'm working on it. Creators School was a project where I could explore illustrations a lot, which is an area that sparks my interest and I never had the chance to explore seriously. It was kind of funny because, in this area, where I'm not so experienced as in UI/UX, things started going pretty well and that gave me the confidence to start making decisions.

Decisions are a big challenge when you are a company's newbie. When you are new in a place and in a work field (like I was), you start shaking when someone asks you: "Are you sure?". In your computer everything makes sense, but this little question disproves it. Every time it happened I always tried to argument and explain my reasoning but all that came out was stammer. Worst of all is that if your answer is positive it seems that the world may end if you are wrong. When you are right you are the king of the world (at the least the little one you call your own).

After Creators School came the company's rebranding, a big wave for me to surf with my little board and my unconfident decisions. João came up with a set of colors, margins and typographic rules for us to follow on the website and gave me some pages and illustrations to do. You can imagine what I felt to be able to take part in the rebranding of the company that welcomed me and where I feel so good. At the same time, I could not delay the process with my insecurities and had to participate as a regular member with valuable contributions without making other team members lose time reviewing them. My way of overcoming this was to avoid overthinking: if I had something to do I always worked to the best of my abilities as a true Subvisual craftsman. Not only this but whenever I finished my tasks I went to find new ones in order to ease the work of my teammates, which helped me feel more committed with the team and a lot more valuable. Now that I think of it having done those two things made me feel for the first time that I was part of the company. Being able to think that I've helped in the process of making a new image for the company, at a level that we are very proud of, was a huge boost for my confidence.

After we had announced Subvisual's rebrand we started getting a lot more (and better) leads and Roberto told me I was going to work on one of them. I was really excited about the idea of working on a product and taking part in a design sprint with real clients. It was my first opportunity to work in the real world, for real users, so the pressure was on, and I had to be up for it. As in other projects that I took part on I thought my role was as an assistant still learning but then, at the first meeting, I realized that I was the only designer in the team. All my insecurities came back and the fear of failure grew on me again. How would I be able to guide a design sprint and argue with clients and leave them with a good impression of Subvisual? It was a huge challenge, the design of a product depending only on me. I understood that as a vote of confidence and instead of letting the pressure grow I dedicated myself 100% to the project, it had to be flawless. With flawless I mean that everything on the product had to show work time, every element had to breathe craftsmanship. That's what I've learned in the apprenticeship. For the first time, I was doing something that could improve people's lives and that's why I'm here, to turn technology into a friend.

It has been a year since I started the apprenticeship and I'm having an incredible time here. Now I've worked on a lot more projects and I have a lot more responsibilities. I feel like I belong in this office with this very gifted and experienced team. These people are the secret of Subvisual's success, and they are the example I need to follow. With all the experience and knowledge they have they're still eager to improve, constantly reading, exploring and experimenting. They never stop. That's what a Subvisual craftsman is, and that's what I'm fully dedicated to.