The following is a guest blog by Darius Salehipour.
In March 2012, I started my first day of user experience and interface design at a company in Palo Alto. That first day on the job I realized how much I needed to learn. After researching the oceans of new “user-centered thinking” articles and books, I dove into several. These books unlocked a system of “rules” for design solutions…the “grid” for user behavior and I was a fish on the UX line, happy to be hooked. Over a year later and a healthy 14 books digested, I bought a ticket to the rest of my life: a startup conference here in San Francisco.
I need to fully commit to something
I just needed a push and the conference was exactly that. I’ve learned what keeps me interested and when I can dive in headfirst. I can commit everything when I know I’ll see it through and learned that lesson when I was young, breaking boards in Taekwondo (when I hesitated, I broke my hand).
I’m taking a stance to stick with my passion of creating a user-focused company. I will work harder than the competition: my peers, my idols, even my friends. I realize that sounds basic… that’s because the idea is. But to say it is one thing, and to prove it is another. I make sure to remind myself and others that if you work hard to catch the earliest flight to your passion, you’ll surely fly past everyone. Identify what you love, and you will start pursuing it before the world tells you you’re ready.
This commitment, allowed me to start CareerDean with two of my associates.
College students need something better
We’re helping college students transition into great careers. It’s an adult world for them and 8.8% of college students are facing unemployment and 18.3% hold jobs that do not require their higher skills. I want to help them get a great job that they actually love, because you should feel the same passion for your job that I do for user design.
So how do we help them think like professionals? Knowledge, confidence, and networking can help college students become professionals. There needs to be a resource for students to get answers to any and all career questions. Current solutions are diluted with noise of irrelevant and misinformed answers. They are spread across hundreds of small sections of the web. I propose we offer an organized and easily searchable resource of career advice that is constantly flowing with new questions and answers from industry professionals. This knowledge will bring confidence for college students who can’t yet decide what career to pursue. The connection between the students’ questions and professionals’ answers helps them network easily.
Networking should not feel like an 8th grade dance floor, with all of the attention on the one kid not afraid to show it off and awkward for everyone else. A college student can see the real value of networking once they experience it. Young adults become professionals when they learn how to make decisions, can comfortably meet new people, and work towards the best opportunities in their network.
I can be part of a core team
It can’t be done alone. My ideas, as with most people’s, need help from others to bring them to life. Starting a company is not a task; it’s a highly volatile series of experiments. Without the proper control they can blow up in your face, or worse, do nothing. Leading a startup requires a team of people unlike each other in almost every way besides one: devotion. Working with a multitude of talent gives the team more perspectives on the problem you’re solving.
There is no room for ideas to be lost in translation. Like a marriage, a startup team needs to live in the same world as each other, eat and breathe the same motivations (without wanting to kill each other over the little things). It excites me, and keeps me honest, to realize these relationships are going to be some of the closest ones I’ll ever have. The same goes with establishing the right mentors to keep me on the right track when I stray or hit a roadblock. A mentor is worth a million words. My goal is to keep these relationships close, and few, in order to fill the gaps of my knowledge with experience and contradict my assumptions with brutally honest critique.
My passion for user centered design drives me to work harder than the competition, and my attention to the needs, wants, and limitations of our users drives me forward. I believe college students deserve help getting great jobs and I’m working through the nights, alongside my team, to get it done.
Darius Salehipour is a Co-founder at CareerDean, a community for talented college students. He is the CMO and product designer as well. He’s on twitter @designerdarius