Looking back, 2019 was an outstanding year for me. Somebody can say that soon. In this blog post, I take you on a little journey through time. I would like to show you why 2019 was an outstanding year for me. Of course, there were depths for me this year. But in general, I was able to achieve a lot and personally grow very fast.
My first "job"
I would like to start in February 2019. Then I plunged into the last semester of my study Information Design at the University of Applied Sciences Joanneum in Graz. During my studies, I often had the feeling that I could only taste a very small piece of the design cake. So it has always been my intention to engage in different creative areas outside of my studies. My studies were very practice-oriented. However, understanding has often been tested through a term paper rather than a practical paper.
So I tried to acquire certain skills myself. After almost three years, I was there now, looking for an internship to apply what I have learned. I wrote some applications. Already in December 2018, I had the first job interview. (Note: I already completed an internship in an agency in 2016; after three months, I got the opportunity to work as a full-fledged team member in parallel to my studies with them). However, this was never something due to disagreements.
Moving on – new opportunities
In February 2019 I had a very promising job interview with a quite large agency in my hometown in Graz. The euphoria was great when I was told that they would like to fill a position as a full-time junior designer. I got another appointment for another job interview because the CEO of the agency wanted to get to know me. The conversation went very well. I presented my portfolio and told one or the other about my projects. After that, I left the conversation with very positive thoughts. I have been told that they will contact me the following week with a final decision.
However, since I had not heard anything on Friday the following week, I wrote a short email. Only one day later, on Saturday, I finally received the confirmation by email. I was overjoyed. After it did not work the way I imagined it, I was even happier about the commitment. Already in the following week, I should receive my preliminary contract, which is then to be signed and which I should return to the agency again. However, I never saw my contract.
Months of disappointments
It was the beginning of three months full of disappointments. Week after week, I was held back with excuses. There have been alleged restructurings in the agency, so they can not send me my contract yet. I wrote countless emails and made countless phone calls. After three months I finally gave them an ultimatum. But in response, I got only an immoral offer. I was supposed to work for a month on the account and then they might consider signing a full contract with me. This all happened after they had already promised me the job. Now, when I review the entire story, I wonder how I could let all this happen to myself for so long. I just wanted to work for this agency. I wanted to have a vacancy. In the meantime, I doubt that the job offer ever existed.
After this action, I was on the ground. I was depressed. The whole time I also unconsciously made myself stress. In order to complete my studies, I had to complete an internship. I wanted to start my final exam at the earliest possible date. This date was in June. My internship had to last at least 450 hours. This would be done in three months, divided into 5 working days. However, the time was already so advanced that it was getting scarcer. When I actually found no other job, I turned to my course director.
Focusing on my bachelor thesis
Already in 2016, I completed a design-relevant internship. My plan was to have this internship credited to me so that the appointment in June will not be jeopardized. In fact, I was able to speak with my course director and he finally approved the internship. So I could concentrate on my bachelor thesis and finish my studies in June. I found very little sleep during that time and was constantly under stress. The collaboration with my supervisor for my bachelor thesis was not what I imagined. It seemed to me that he was not really interested in the work because he never contacted me and did not respond to my updates sent to him.
My first "real" job
While completing my bachelor thesis, I continued to write applications. Among other things, I found an advertised job at a prestigious company in my hometown. More specifically, it was a job offering as a user interface designer at iTranslate. At first, I thought the job would be unattainable for me, and there will definitely be people applying who are 100x better than me. However, the numerous applications that I wrote at this time taught me the following. Just try it. In the worst case, they do not contact you anyway and you just go on where you left off. So I prepared my papers and sent my application to iTranslate.
One week later, I was invited to a job interview. I've never been so nervous before a conversation. I knew that's the job I want to have. On a short note, the job was advertised as a full-time job. The conversation went great. I got a little homework that aimed at my design skills. One week I had time to prepare this and send it back. Then I was invited to another conversation in which I received feedback for my design task (a huge plus, feedback is very important in our industry). I got the information that they will contact me as soon as they have decided. In fact, only a few days later, I got a pledge from them that I could start with them in June.
Done with university
When I got the pledge, I was sitting with my girlfriend over a glass of beer in the outdoor dining area of one of my favorite bars. I was speechless and indescribably happy that everything turned out well. One week later I signed the contract, so everything was 100% fixed. I was indescribably happy and at the same time, I got new motivation regarding my bachelor thesis. I just wanted to complete it, finish my studies and fully concentrate on my work and projects. At the end of June (at that time I already worked for three weeks at my new job) I finally finished my studies successfully. It overwhelmed me that I was suddenly able to fully concentrate on my work and projects. My weekends were actually just weekends. I did not have to prepare anything for the following week.
Is this fate?
Six months later and I still love my work. I like to get up at 6:15 and get ready for work. Every day I learn so much. In addition, the work also constantly promotes my motivation to acquire new skills. The team is awesome and I'm happier than ever in my work. After all the setbacks, the work now felt like a real win. During this time, I kept thinking that everything in life makes sense. In October, I also thought about the term fate for the first time. Why? Can you still remember the agency that I described a few paragraphs above? The one that kept me waiting several months without any real prospect of the job? By chance, I found out that the agency had already filed a reorganization procedure in August / September, as it had liabilities of more than € 1.8 million.
The agency was pretty much over. Nevertheless, I learned through various media reports that the Agency still wants to continue. I do not know if I would call it fate, that all the previous applications were negative and that I have now found exactly the job after I searched. But something definitely plays along with it. Over the past few months, I've learned to take risks. I am basically someone who likes to follow the structure and planning. Which does not mean that I can not be spontaneous? However, when it came to various risks, I always tried to imagine the risk in order to be prepared. I learned to pursue my interests and focus on my preferences.
Evolving my side-projects
In 2019, I also shut down a side project that I launched in 2016. It was my first project in which I put a lot of time and money. But in June 2019, I just realized that it was time to terminate the project and start something new. This project was dyfemagazine. You can read the full story in a separate blog post. At the same time, I started my weekly newsletter, which has also developed excellently. In the first half of 2019, it was called The Creative Abstract, but in the course of a redesign, I also changed the name of the newsletter. So every Sunday I send an email to subscribers of Creativerly. Filled with useful tools and resources, as well as books and blog posts that help them to increase their creativity and productivity.
For the first 8 months, I did not focus much on marketing. Above all, I wanted the content and design of the newsletter to be exactly what I wanted. Of course, I wanted the community to grow around my newsletter. By posting actively on Indie Hackers, I got a lot of tips on how best to proceed so that I can attract new subscribers.
Growing my side-projects
About the first steps I have written my own blog post. In addition, I also tried to apply the tips I got on Indie Hackers. Having already gained 10 new subscribers with my own strategy in October alone, I was already very satisfied. However, after applying the new tactics, I was able to gain another 10 new subscribers in one week. Attentive readers of my blog will already know that I set myself the goal at the start of the newsletter to gain 100 subscribers within 12 months. At the time of this blog post, Creativerly has 66 subscribers and two months left. Either way, a complete success for me. It felt incredibly good to finally realize that you can celebrate a certain success with a side project. Realizing that a community actually formed around my newsletter was simply indescribable.
Through my newsletter, I became aware of the idea for a second side-project. Even before I started my newsletter, I already collected countless tools, apps, software, resources, blog posts, books, podcasts, etc. in a huge archive. While working on various projects, I kept using this archive. So I found several tools that helped me make my work as efficient as possible. Through a conversation with fellow students who made me aware why I keep such tools only for me, the idea for my newsletter came up. I wanted to put all the useful tools and resources that I find in my week and add them to my archive into a newsletter and send them to like-minded people. After half a year, I realized that the newsletter is moving in a very specific direction. I did not want to send out an email filled with things that came my way.
Starting to build designsupplies
I wanted to make Creativerly an informational resource for creative minds. Despite all this, my readers should still have access to such important resources. So I planned to make my personal archive public. Under the name designsupplies. I was aware that there were already many resource websites for designers. However, I also found that many of these sites always advertised the same resources and tools. If you want some more information and insights on designsupplies, you can read my blog post "How I started to build designsupplies".
The year 2019 marks the end and completion of my studies, the beginning of my career as a designer, as well as the first positive steps of my side-projects. I have been waiting so long for entry into the world of work. I enjoy it to the fullest and I love the orderly process. Even though it is always said, "Money does not make you happy," a settled income brings some security with it. And this security definitely makes you happy.
New year's resolutions
New Year's resolutions, in the real sense, I have not had for some time. Not because I do not set goals and do not want to achieve anything. But rather because I do not want to intrude into anything. I have plans for 2020 and there are also certain things that I want to achieve and change in my life. At the end of 2018, I set myself the goal that in 2019 I would like to read 25 books.
I have reached the goal. However, over the past few months, I have also learned that I enjoy reading a book, especially when I find a few minutes between my daily routine and simply sit down and read a few pages with ease. After a stressful day on which I just wanted to go to bed, it occurred to me shortly before I fell asleep that I did not read anything that day. I felt bad and was afraid of not reaching my goal. So I pushed myself partly to read a book, although I just did not feel like it.
Do not force yourself to do anything
What came out of this? In most cases, I did not like the book because I could not focus on the content, I just kept in mind that I had to read a certain number of pages. Everyone reads at his own pace. In addition, there are no rules on how to read a book. You do not have to start on page 1 and you're done so much at page whatever. What speaks against reading only those chapters in a book that actually sound appealing and interesting? Tobias Van Schneider has written a short but succinct article on "How to read a book", which provides interesting insights into what it actually is called reading a book.
By 2020, I want to focus on something that I've been neglecting lately. Learning and acquiring programming skills. I am increasingly aware that there are many advantages to being able to demonstrate basic knowledge of different programming languages as a designer. In addition, programming has always interested me. However, I never took the time to sit down and actually learn it. This should change in 2020, however. I would like to gradually devote myself to programming and immerse myself in the matter.
Finally, I would like to express my thanks. In the first place to my girlfriend and my family. I am grateful for every single person in my life. Because each one enriches my life. My girlfriend is my biggest supporter. Thanks to her, I found the love of travel. One of the best hobbies and passions we share. In addition, I absolutely enjoy every second that I am able to spend with her. Be it in our shared apartment, with dinner or with one or the other cocktail in a bar. It definitely will never be boring. It's an indescribable feeling to look back every year and see how we both evolved and take our relationship to a new level. I can not imagine another person by my side who fulfills me and my life so much.
2019 was great, and I will keep working on making 2020 even better. Stay curious. Keep learning. Keep evolving.