Real Work, Real Life

User Experience

October 04, 2023 Episode 32
User Experience
Real Work, Real Life
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Real Work, Real Life
User Experience
Oct 04, 2023 Episode 32

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On this week's episode of Real Work, Real Life, I'm talking with Rachel, a Creative Director working in User Experience. People working in UX focus on making products or services usable, accessible, and enjoyable. Most of the time, we’re talking about the design of websites or apps.  If you’re creative and collaborative, this field has so much to offer. You can work across many different industries, as a freelancer, an employee of a company, or an employee of a consultancy. There are many remote options, many roles come with exceptional benefits, and the compensation can be excellent.

We cover so many topics in this episode, from the impact of AI on the field, to how tiring it can be to have to say "no" professionally, to how different our youthful expectations of work turned are from our adult realities. Don't miss this conversation!

If you like the show, please rate and review on iTunes and Spotify  (linked below) and please share with a friend! You can also follow the podcast on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Tiktok. And if you’d like to be interviewed here, or there is a particular job you’d like to learn about, please reach out at


Transcripts are now available here:

Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

On this week's episode of Real Work, Real Life, I'm talking with Rachel, a Creative Director working in User Experience. People working in UX focus on making products or services usable, accessible, and enjoyable. Most of the time, we’re talking about the design of websites or apps.  If you’re creative and collaborative, this field has so much to offer. You can work across many different industries, as a freelancer, an employee of a company, or an employee of a consultancy. There are many remote options, many roles come with exceptional benefits, and the compensation can be excellent.

We cover so many topics in this episode, from the impact of AI on the field, to how tiring it can be to have to say "no" professionally, to how different our youthful expectations of work turned are from our adult realities. Don't miss this conversation!

If you like the show, please rate and review on iTunes and Spotify  (linked below) and please share with a friend! You can also follow the podcast on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Tiktok. And if you’d like to be interviewed here, or there is a particular job you’d like to learn about, please reach out at


Transcripts are now available here:

Rachel User Experience

[00:00:00] Welcome to real work real life, where I talked to real people about what they do for work and what that means for their lives. Today, I'm talking with Rachel, a creative director working in user experience. People working in UX, focused on making products or services, usable, accessible, and enjoyable. And most of the time we're talking about the design of websites or apps. If you're creative and collaborative, this field has so much to offer. You can work across many different industries as a freelancer, an employee of a company or an employee of a consultancy. There are often many remote options and a lot of roles come with exceptional benefits and the compensation can be excellent. Particularly as you progress in your career. I can't wait to share this conversation with you. So let's get into it. 

Emily: Thank you so much for being here, Rachel.

Rachel: Thanks for having me.

Emily: What do you do for work?

Rachel: I am a creative director in the user experience field, which really means, you know, I grew up as an artist and went to school for [00:01:00] graphic design.

Emily: That is really cool. So, can you give like an elevator pitch of what you actually do?

Rachel: Absolutely. So yeah, I'm about 20 years into my career. So obviously what I do now is very different than what I did when I first started out. But yeah, right now I am very lucky to work for a Massive global consultancy. And I am a creative director. And so that means I lead teams. I also interface with our clients.

My client right now is a fortune 50 logistics company that you probably see every day on the street. I'm not supposed to talk about them, of course.

Emily: We can guess who it might be.

Rachel: Yes. But yeah, the company I work for is amazing. for many years I said I would never go back to consultancy or agency work, just because sometimes We're really just doing the work because the client asked for it and they're paying for it, not really doing the right work.

so I [00:02:00] spent a lot of time working on the corporate side, working internally at companies. Also a lot of fortune 50 companies. I've had the pleasure of working for, but, but yeah, this company I'm working for now, I really love their company culture. I got hooked in and I'm loving it.

So right now it's every day is very different just because the nature of my role can really vary. As compared to when I was corporate side, it was a little more structured and predictable,

Emily: Yeah.

Rachel: someday I'm actually getting in there and helping to like bring designs to life with, with the actual designers and then, you know, the next meeting I might be actually negotiating a new contract with the client.

So it really just depends. Sometimes I'm actually doing sales as a director, you know, I'm kind of accountable for, maintaining and growing the account we have with this client which is new to me. It's kind of a self limiting belief. I don't feel like I'm a salesman, but as a designer, as a creative, you really are a salesman.

It's just that we're always selling things we're really passionate about. And so, yeah, like I can sell things I'm passionate about, selling used cars, that kind of stuff, things I don't believe [00:03:00] in, I'm not so great at.

Emily: I can understand that. So, are you kind of generally talking about... User experience on like a website, like improving someone's experience with a client's website, or is it broader than that?

Rachel: That is primarily where I focus, yes. The field of user experience can absolutely include, you know, real. space and interaction, you know, way finding in a hospital, for instance. But yes, I, I focus in in the digital space. Really that's, that's kind of short sighted because, you know, our world today is, we're digital and physical meat.

And so a lot of times I'm helping companies. to understand how to modernize. A lot of the companies I work for because they're these big fortune 50 companies, they've been around for a long time. And so actually while I am a creative, right, I do focus on design of websites and creating experiences for human beings that are intuitive.

I'm also actually a kind of a [00:04:00] specialist in helping companies transform their culture as well and how to work differently, how to stop kind of being business focused in their goals and be more product focused or program focused and really focus on, understanding what Customers really need or want and, and I think that's at the heart of it, right?

User experience, it's all about what does the customer need? How do you understand those value propositions that are getting meaningful to a customer? And therefore you have this, you know, equal exchange of value, right? Not always easy to figure out unless you're actually speaking to customers.

Emily: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. Oh, that is so interesting. So can we take a step back for a second? How did you get there? You know, what's your sort of educational background? Do you have any specific certification that have really helped you in the field? And if you remember how much your education costs, I'm always interested in hearing that too.

Rachel: Yeah, I definitely went back and double checked what I [00:05:00] spent originally. Yeah, so I went to high school, you know, as many of us do kind of figuring out what I want to do with when I grow up kind of a thing. And for me, it came down to, I either want to go into the art field or I want to be a physical therapist, which is very different things. I decided to go with my strengths because math is not one of them. So, I went to art school. I started out, I'm actually not from where I am now. So I started out at a different school. Very hardcore design program. the major is called visual communications. Again, essentially graphic design.

I graduated in 1999. So this was kind of when the web work was really starting to blow up. And so I, I trained in both kind of traditional print and advertising, as well as, you know, doing some web development stuff on the side. And so. That really helped me out later when you know, things really blew up from this user experience thing didn't exist when I went to school.

This was not a thing.

Emily: Right.

Rachel: Or at least not [00:06:00] talked about like some people were talking about it, but it was like just becoming a thing. so, yeah, I think it was probably January 2010. I had just started a role with a new company, and I didn't even know I was hired on a user experience team. I thought it was just another graphic design gig.

and I was just blown away. I was like, Oh my gosh, this is exactly what I've always wanted. It's art meets science. It's. All the color theory, all the artistic theory that you learn as a designer. And then you add in this research component where you're actually thinking about the psychology of why things work, how people understand things, how information architecture works.

And that was it. I never looked back and luckily for me, I hit that just the right moment when this was blowing up and taking off. 

of people still today are trying to like make that switch from traditional design and graphic design into user experience. And there's a lot more programs and things do that today.

But yeah, back when I was doing it, you know, a lot of us were kind of learning on the job.

Emily: [00:07:00] When you hire or when you meet, you know, people that are fresh in the field, are they typically doing an undergraduate program that is specific to user experience or are there like boot camps or certifications that they're often going to? What are you kind of seeing as a background? Yeah.

Rachel: a lot more people who are, you know, I think I've seen more where there's specific classes that kind of focus in it. There's certain that kind of lend themselves. So there's a major called human computer interaction. Um, And so, you know, heavy tech sounding thing.

 I don't know that I would have been as good in that major as compared to visual communication because visual communication is very much the visual design, the artistic side of it.

And then, you know, human computer interaction is more of that scientific architectural side of it. I kind of find myself more of like a hybrid where I'm a little bit of both just because of the way my brain works.

But really in the field, there's people who really specialize in lean into [00:08:00] either direction. And I think that's the beauty of it. A lot of people are coming from a lot of different. Walks of life. Some people came from traditional architecture roles. Some people come from like environmental design.

Some people are like going to engineering and realize, you know what, I really want to do this type of different kind of engineering and kind of switch when they're in school because they take some kind of user experience class and realize they like it. So yeah, it's, it's cool. Cause you get to work with really kind of eclectic kind of people in which.

Which makes the work better, because it's all about understanding different people and different audiences.

Emily: Oh, totally. that is really interesting. And I wonder, so if you met a high schooler and they were like, I really want to do what you do, what would you tell them to study in school or to, to pursue, to start on the path? Is there like a path or, or not really, it sort of sounds like there's a lot of different ones.

Rachel: There is a lot of different ones now, and I'm sorry, there's like so much to talk about this, like, some of the, like, yeah, there's just so much, so I'll try to hit everything. There are a lot of, like, small programs, bootcamp certifications [00:09:00] now.

I think those can be a little, I'll say dangerous or misleading for people because they kind of just give you the surface, which is a start, but often that's not enough to like get you hired or maybe it is enough to get you in the door at a smaller place, but maybe not a larger place.

 There's a lot of options, but there are actual majors for your degree

Emily: And that might be your best path if you were pretty sure that that was what you wanted to pursue.

Rachel: Yeah. I'm actually kind of impressed that I think a lot of those programs now, they seem to kind of really try to prepare you for the real world better than maybe the art programs of the past did. Just because, you know, they're teaching you a little bit more of the business side as well. I got a little bit of that just because of the schools I happen to go to I ended up transferring halfway through and going to a different place.

 In fact, there is a funny story related to that. Right. When I was back trying to figure out, am I going to art school? Am I going to be a physical therapist? I was telling my parents who, you know, had both gone [00:10:00] into technology jobs. And, you know, I'm telling them, you know, I don't want to sit at a computer all day.


Emily: Such a common refrain from an 18 year old.

Rachel: Yeah.

Emily: Okay.

Rachel: Oh, yeah, of course. That's, you know, my vision of what it would look like. But, you know, at the end of the day. Yeah, maybe I am technically sitting at a computer all day, but the interactions I'm having with people and what I'm doing all day is very different than someone who's like writing code, which is definitely not something I'm interested in 

Emily: Right. And lots of people are, you know, it's but kind of knowing yourself and, and what would fit. 

Rachel: Knowing your strengths.

Emily: What kind of personality do you think would do well in this field?

Rachel: Definitely someone who's very empathetic and observant and curious. Obviously having a sense of design and some kind of training in why design works or why things work or, you know, why things are intuitive. There's definitely psychology behind all of this, but there is definitely also this kind of [00:11:00] intuitiveness and kind of raw talent that's also, in the mix.

But yeah, I've also, hired people who had no creative background and they just were that kind of person who had that UX brain, they really empathize with people they could see, and they would question, and that's really the most important.

Emily: Oh, that's so interesting. so what do you make and what do your other benefits look like?

Rachel: I definitely make a lot more than I did when I started out.

Emily: And that would be helpful if you have like a range of starting out. So where you are now, if you have a sense of what a ceiling would be, or if it doesn't feel like there is much of a ceiling, that would be really helpful.

Rachel: Yeah, I actually jotted a few things down on this, because this is a really interesting conversation. So, I would say 2003 was when I really kind of hit corporate America full time. I was making, you know, 30, 000 dollars a year as a graphic designer at a small company. now I am making [00:12:00] 190 base with a 20% bonus, which puts me around two 30.

If I got my whole bonus, which, you know, depending on the year, maybe not

Emily: Right.

Rachel: last year, we actually got a little extra. But yeah, it's interesting because I'm definitely, again, I, I work at a global agency, so. You know, a creative director role at my company can be very different than a creative director role at a smaller company.

Emily: Yeah.

Rachel: Some director roles have direct reports and have all the trappings of a typical director type of deal where you, you know, you're kind of driving business, kind of like I was describing. Whereas other creative director roles might just be like a super senior designer kind of a role.

Emily: Right. Titles are not comparable across companies. That's such an important. Adult learning, I 

Rachel: Yes, yes. And so actually I looked up right before we, talked and depending on which site you look at you know, the average salary that people are putting out there is like [00:13:00] 140, 150, almost 160. But one of the sites listed the range from 130 K up to 620 K. Right. So yeah, I sit like pretty mid, range in the, pay band for my company.

Emily: Yeah.

Rachel: And actually the company I work for, again, the reason I went there is because there's actually a career path for me where I don't have to stop being involved in the creative space to still move up. Whereas a lot of companies like the one I was previously at, when I was kind of internal at a company With a very specific business model.

If I wanted to move up, I wouldn't really be touching creative anymore. And so that's another big attractiveness of where I am now. There's actually a career path. I can keep growing without getting too far away from my craft.

Emily: Yeah. Oh, that's amazing. So I know this is going to vary a ton by company, but do you find that you have had good access to benefits 

Rachel: Yeah. I did a lot of contracting, you know, [00:14:00] especially in the early days when the housing market blew up and you know I was out of work for a while and doing pro bono work and doing freelance and do whatever I could.

Certainly when you're working contract it's a little different sometimes you can get in with these agencies and they do offer some, you know, actual benefits but they're obviously a little more expensive.

Right now, again, one of the reasons I love my company, we have great benefits, unlimited PTO parental leave, you know, all those things you kind of hope for. So yeah, I'm happy to be where I am right now for sure.

I'll tell you the recent, you know, the pandemic and everything that happened. And there was a massive, upheaval in the market, especially in my industry. Where, all of a sudden people are making way more money than they were before the competition got out of control because all of a sudden it didn't matter where you were.

Everyone was remote and just blew the doors open. I did make a move at that time and I definitely benefited from that.

Emily: Yeah. Yeah. I, I think that piece of like [00:15:00] making moves at strategic times is, is a hard thing. And, but it's also like, if you can take advantage of it, it's just can be amazing. 

Rachel: in truth, you know, the company I was at when I. left, I had a pension, which is very unusual. I was invested in that pension. I had been there seven years and I, you know, I kind of thought, Oh, well, you know, I could, stay here, but you know what, I, again, like I didn't have the career path and I wasn't old enough to like, just settle at that point.

Emily: I'll be here for 30 years. Yeah,


I get that. So are you working on site or do you work remotely?

Rachel: Because my client is based where I live, I do go on site. they have decided to go back three days a week as a company. And so my actual agency does not require me to go anywhere more about what the client needs. I do act as kind of a lead from the region at my actual company, it kind of pulls me in two directions because I want to be there and kind of growing the culture for my own company, [00:16:00] but really, I need to spend the time at the client site you know, growing those relationships because that's, critical, 

Emily: I have thought about a little bit about that like in house and client thing that I think sometimes it would be, I've never been on the client side and I wonder if sometimes it's kind of nice to be able to sort of like wrap up the project and leave while still staying in your job.

Do you ever find that to be the case or 

Rachel: You know, it's interesting. I find myself a little unusual in the fact that the client I'm working for is very relationship based. I feel like it took me a year of building their trust before they really let me in.

And so right now that's very different than a lot of my peers who, yes, they come in with a team, they get some amazing work done and they get out. It was very strange for me. Halfway through my first year. You know, it was kind of like the end of the year and I was being asked to come and do this other really amazing project, but it meant I had to leave the [00:17:00] project I was on and it wasn't over and making some really great progress 

and it felt very strange to me to just Stop.

Emily: Yeah. Oh,

Rachel: Like I had to. 

Emily: yeah. 

Rachel: it was definitely odd. I did spend, I would say, most of my career client side. And so yeah, it definitely feels very different.

But I will say, I think the benefit that I'm enjoying is, especially in the things that I do, sometimes we're kind of trying to understand why something isn't working.

And sometimes that means there's something in the company that's not working. And when you're the one exposing that, sometimes people kind of come after you.

Emily: Sure. Oh, yeah, that's an uncomfortable thing to hear. 

Rachel: It's nice to have that buffer where I know that my company has my back no matter what happens with that client. 


You know, obviously if I do something terrible, you know, my company takes action. But yeah, it's kind of nice to have that separation where I know like my job isn't in jeopardy just because, you know, Joe over here.

doesn't like me [00:18:00] exposing something that's going wrong in his area.

Emily: Right. Oh, that's so interesting. Okay, so what are your hours like? I mean, do you find that you have a lot of flexibility and like a strong work life balance or are there pretty long hours? What's your sort of general schedule like?

Rachel: Hence I would say as a general rule, anyone who's in a design field, you know, sometimes you're going to be working late.

Um, often timelines make no sense. You know, obviously, especially in my role, my role is to negotiate those timelines and make sure we have enough time to do quality work. But, you know, at the end of the day, sometimes you got to roll up your sleeves and, you know, be up at 2 o'clock in the morning.

I definitely feel like I had better control over my schedule when I was client side as compared to now.

because right when that client is available and they're doing things like I need to be there. I can't be like, Hey, guys, you know, I got something going on. Do you mind moving? Yeah, I mean, I will sometimes, but that's not what [00:19:00] I will be doing.

Right. And so I feel like I find myself. Also kind of doing 2 jobs because I technically work for 2 companies, 


Emily: Oh, interesting.

Rachel: So, yeah, it's definitely again. I love what I'm doing. I'm really happy where I am, but it can be pretty tricky and I have to really just. Even before I got to this company, I think once you get to a certain level, you have to know that like, you're never going to finish everything today.

And you have to be okay with that,

Emily: Yeah.

Rachel: you know, people that like, Oh my gosh, how do you have your inbox have, you know, unread things? Well, I will never read them all because that's impossible. I have to do as much as I can and know when to stop and pick it back up, you know, and work life balance has definitely been a huge struggle for me, especially, you know, becoming a mom, you know, along the way.

So yeah, it's definitely something I work on.

Emily: Yeah. I think there's probably no perfect balance out there, unfortunately. 

Rachel: the other thing too is people in user experience tend to be very passionate and love what they do, which [00:20:00] is kind of dangerous because then you end up staying up too late working and fixating on something.

Emily: Yeah, but that's not, I mean, well, it can be a bad thing, but I think it's not such a bad thing if you're staying late and it's for something that's genuinely interesting you and, you know, getting your mind going and curiosity and you're like, you can't wait to solve it or to come to a conclusion.

not a terrible way to spend your time, you know?

Rachel: Yeah, no, I definitely, you know, I look at my husband who has a fantastic job at a huge company, but it's not his passion right it's financial it's, you know, It's just not something he's that passionate about. He is good at it.

But yeah, I love what I do. And actually before we had started our family, my husband said to me one night, you're home, but you're not here.

'cause I was always still thinking about work

Emily: Yeah.

Rachel: and I wasn't even, I was kind of more of a lead level at that point. I wasn't really into full into management yet. But I kind of recognized in myself [00:21:00] that if I was going to start a family, I would probably have to change from being an individual contributor to more of a leader because that way I can kind of detach myself from like, well, I'm not supposed to be the one doing it.

I am directing and, inspiring and encouraging people to do the work. And so that was actually a big goal of mine is to, get into a leadership role where I could find that work life balance and actually be there for my family.

Emily: Wow. That is such an interesting insight and finding that disconnect from home to work, I think is so important, especially just to give your brain a break, and not burn out. So you use that at the beginning that you don't really have much of an average day, but can you share some of the general things that might go on in your day?

Obviously a lot of email and meetings, but are you sort of reviewing work from people who work for you? Are you meeting with the clients? What sort of, some of the things that might fill up your day?

Rachel: Yes. [00:22:00] So because I am very much embedded in the, in the client's environment. You know, I'm kind of functioning as a manager and a director in their space. my whole day is meetings pretty much back to back 

Emily: So maybe tough for a really introverted person.

Rachel: Very tough for an introverted person. Yes, definitely. Yeah, I would say my personality has definitely taken me a long way where, you know, people always say like, oh, you're just so friendly and, you know, bubbly and whatever. But also it's interesting. I've gotten this weird feedback once that kind of made me pause where this, this person that worked for me, I just loved him because he always just tell me the truth.

your leadership, you kind of forget. Yeah, you forget that people aren't always really going to tell you the truth, even if you think it's cool, you know,

Emily: Yes.

Rachel: But he's like, you know, I think what's going on is you're so friendly when you meet people. And then when we're talking business. You know, you're more serious and your tone changes and people think you're angry or something, you know, and it's, I [00:23:00] think certain people who are maybe too sensitive, right?


Emily: Right.

Rachel: but, you know, it's just that whole thing of like, well, yeah, I'm being professional, but, but also, you know, I'm really just one of those people who I'm not gonna freak out over deadlines or whatever. Like we're here to get the work done. We're going to figure it out the best we can. I'm here to keep everyone calm so that we can actually do the work, right?

 so anyway, back to my day, Yeah, meetings all day, you know, I'm meeting in the mornings every morning. I have a team in India that I meet with you know, early morning because the time zones are, you know, so opposite. I check in with them to see how they're doing on their work and answer any of their questions.

I'm also meeting with the client to make sure we have enough work coming in for them to work on. Then I'm doing different Specific project based meetings actually run two different standups, , with different teams. Then we're, doing working sessions.

sometimes we're ideating around a specific design solution. Maybe we're ideating on a specific research study. We want to do to understand what we need to work on next or how to [00:24:00] best meet the customer's needs.

Sometimes I'm running, you know, full scale design thinking workshops with like 40 people.

 It's all over the map. it's definitely a ton of talking nonstop,

Emily: Yeah 

Rachel: collaborating. I mean, the collaboration component is massive and critical. And then also, you know, having one on ones with my direct reports and supporting them in their career. Which is interesting again, being in the consultancy that I'm in, a lot of my direct reports don't even work on the client I'm working on. Yeah. So I kind of get to see what they're going through too. which is, nice to kind of just see. get a bigger picture. I'm just constantly talking. And so yeah, it's impossible to get anything done during the day.

you know, unless I carve out time in which even if I block time, probably some meeting that's critical to come on top of

Emily: Right.

Rachel: You know, it's just hard because, you're intentionally playing the buffer for the people at the design level who need to do the work. 


And so it's like, no, I'll go to that meeting. You stay focused. I'll tell you what we need to [00:25:00] do. 

Emily: Yeah. That time component is such an interesting one. I, it seems constantly like there is this level of leadership where you just have zero time ever, and it's like. It feels like there's got to be a better way, but I have no idea what that way is because the things you really could cut out are some of the nice like culture building things and, time to manage people, which is so important and so valuable to the company.

And in the longterm, just such a good way for a leader to spend time. But at the same time, it just seems like a really tough. Middle ground position to be in.

Rachel: it can be. when I was at the last company, like I said, I was there seven years. I helped them build their UX practice from zero to over a hundred people. And yeah, like it was, it was an incredible experience. But I definitely had way more control over my world and I could carve out that time.

Whereas yeah, now I don't have that much control.

Emily: Yeah. 

So how do you view the [00:26:00] prospects for someone that was thinking about getting into user experience right now?

Rachel: It's absolutely still a booming industry. It's. Super dynamic in that, even just switching job to job, you could be working on something so drastically different. So, yeah, I would definitely encourage anyone who is interested to to pursue it. I can't see where it's going to necessarily go away.

Right? Some people were saying that I was going to replace us. Yeah, probably not. 

Emily: I mean, it's such a human thing that it's, I guess who knows, who knows where the robot overlords are taking us, but it does feel like one of those things that still would need a human touch for, for a long time, but yeah, we'll see, I guess. 

Rachel: So it's interesting because data driven design is really important, right? It's not just what we think and feel. It's what is the data actually telling us. And so, I could absolutely Q in on that data. But there's also this other aspect of it, where you kind of need to take different types of data and kind of triangulate.[00:27:00] What the real best path forward is, and that's where the human element kind of comes in. Something that we've been talking about in our industry quite a bit lately is You know, it's interesting because you could kind of see where the lower level entry jobs could be done by AI, but how do you then have the leadership people if those people aren't coming up doing that work like where there's a gap there.

Emily: I think there's a lot of industries that might find themselves in some weird situations that way. That's a tough one. If you solve it, would you let me know? Because I'm also curious.

Rachel: well, so far so good. Our company actually created its own, chat GPT thing. And it will do wireframing and, and things that UX people do. And so I went in there just to see what that looked like. And I'm like, Oh yeah, I'm not worried. That's not at all the same as what this human being is doing.

Emily: Yeah.

Rachel: But, but yeah, I think inherently the, fact that this focuses [00:28:00] on humans and trying to understand humans and what's included to them. Like, yeah, it's probably going to be hard to have a machine doing that all the time.

Emily: Oh, that's so interesting. I, sometimes I feel like a lot of these podcasts are a little bit of a time capsule up around the budding AI situation that who knows what, if someone were to come back and listen to these in 15 years, what things they'd be like, Oh yeah, you know, it took way longer, way less long.

So sort of curious in my own way for that. What are some things that you love about your job, especially if you think people might not know?

Rachel: I just love that I get to be creative. Like I'm a creative problem solver. I was just telling my kids this actually. I'm working on their door for the second grade. Like I'm going to go decorate it 


Emily: that. Okay.

Rachel: And I'm working on this beehive and I'm like putting crate paper to make it have texture, you know, total overachievement.

Right. [00:29:00] But it's fun. And, you know, my, my kid goes, Mom, do you like doing this? And I said, well, yeah, it's, creative problem solving. I get to figure out how I'm going to achieve this thing and try different ways to do it. I really enjoy that aspect of just, again, you know, I'm not really like a, a details person.

I'm kind of more like a big picture thinker. And so that that plays to my strength sometimes or not, depending on what I'm doing, you know, sometimes, especially in the lower kind of like designer levels, as you're working your way up, you need to be very detail oriented. That's very important. I have that discipline when I need to have it, but I prefer to be thinking about what could we do?

What about this idea? Have we thought about this? Like, there's no bad ideas. I can riff off your crazy thing you just said that doesn't make any sense and actually it'll spark some amazing idea maybe. And so I just love the interaction with people and the creativity that, you know, I get to experience on a daily basis.

Now. [00:30:00] That being said, it is very difficult to manage creative people because they have a lot of passion. There's a lot of feelings. And so I've definitely had my fair share of tricky HR situations over the years that I had to manage. But yeah, connecting with the people, I really do enjoy, you know, the leadership of people and the mentorship aspect.

You know, like you were saying, it's hard to balance when the project is demanding, but you have this like managerial stuff you need to do for the people. I, I always wanted to make sure, like, I might have to move our one on one five times, but we're going to have it,

Honestly, you're 40 hours a week plus at this job, right?

And your manager can really impact your experience. 

Emily: A hundred percent.

Rachel: yeah,

Emily: What's that saying? Like people don't leave companies. They leave managers. I believe that a hundred percent. Yeah.

Rachel: I've actually had people not too long ago, [00:31:00] I had two people resign like literally on the same day, and they were just so upset and they both came to me separately and said, Oh my gosh, Rachel, it's not you I swear I know what they say, but like we just got these amazing job offers we couldn't refuse.

Emily: Yeah. Oh yeah. It definitely not all the time, I would say it almost the other way that a bad manager can ruin a really good company.

Rachel: 100%. And I've experienced that myself.

Emily: Yeah. Yeah. Oh, it's

Rachel: I've worked for some bad leaders, but you know, yeah, I really, I take a lot of pride and, and I get a lot of satisfaction out of just being there as a human being for these people, you know, one, one girl that I'm supporting is pregnant right now, you know, like those little things, those human things.

They matter a lot, and just having someone who's there to listen, I feel like sometimes I'm maybe the only person these people are opening up to.

Emily: Be the leader either you had, and we're lucky to have, or that you wish you had. that's a really nice thing to be able to do for someone if you're able to. 

Is there anything that's [00:32:00] tough about your job or the field that either you didn't expect at all or you didn't anticipate how challenging it would be before you started working?

Rachel: Yeah, saying no. It's really hard.

Emily: Like to the clients or to employees or to your own company?

Rachel: I say that more in the context of like the client or to project work.

I certainly, find myself kind of more on the people pleasing end of the spectrum.

Emily: Sure.

Rachel: But yeah, like you want to help you want to do that thing and in this work. It's kind of one of those like, never assume that it's as easy as you think it is because the minute you get in there, just isn't.

Emily: Yeah. Yeah.

Rachel: So my philosophy is pretty much, you know, think about how much time you need to do something and double it. And then maybe that's probably where you can start,

Emily: You have to know if you're a time optimist or a time pessimist, I think. Or 

Rachel: right? 

Emily: is what I

Rachel: A realist. Yeah. And I definitely like, there's a reason I don't [00:33:00] freelance and it's because I never charge enough. I like that there's set pricing, all of these things that exist in my company because I'm one of those people who, again, I want to help. I, you know, I'll overextend myself because I like someone. I shouldn't do that, right? That's not good business.

Emily: Right. But yeah, it's also like human nature, so. That's, that's interesting.

Rachel: from a business perspective, it is not good for business for you to overextend or accept work that you cannot complete.

Emily: Absolutely. Yeah.

Rachel: And it's hard sometimes to know, especially, people often come to you. Oh, hey, can you just do this thing real quick? And to them, they have no concept of what it takes to do that thing.

Emily: Right. 

Rachel: you're constantly kind of having to renegotiate,

Emily: Yeah. Which is hard. It is hard. Sometimes it does hurt to ask.

Rachel: right? 

Emily: Okay, so this is the last question I have for you. What's one piece of advice generally about work that you would give your younger self?

Rachel: I've [00:34:00] definitely said this to, to others over the years that, the turning point, I think, in my career was. When I was interviewing for a job for the first time, when I already had a job, I wasn't in a panic trying to get a job.

And, I went into interview and I was just myself.

I wasn't super nervous. And, that company came back and they offered me a job and I, and I thought about it. It was really far across town. And I was like, you know what? I don't think this makes sense. Like, you know, I got to pass it up. They came back to me three times. Before I finally said yes.

And that was just so amazing. I like blew my mind.

So wait, if I'm just myself, 


Emily: Hold on. What?

Rachel: Yeah. So I think that's it. You know, of course you always want to be professional, but really being authentic and, and just, you know, being real, I mean, to me, that was something that it took that experience to help me realize how important that was.

Emily: Yeah.

Rachel: people, I look for that.

If you come into an interview and you're [00:35:00] giving me all the canned answers, right, I want to have a real conversation with you

because I need to know your chemistry.

Are you going to fit with this team? Right. That collaboration is critical. you can have all the amazing hard skills and all the certificates and all the training. If you're an egomaniac, I'm not hiring you. Right. So yeah, it's definitely just being yourself and being open to, possibilities.

Emily: That's great advice. Well, Rachel, I really enjoyed talking to you about your career and your field and just thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me.

Rachel: Thanks for inviting me. I hope it helps somebody out along their journey.

 Thanks for joining me. If you liked the show, please rate and review on iTunes and Spotify. And please share with a friend. You can also follow the podcast on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, or [00:36:00] ticktock. And if you'd like to be interviewed here or there's a particular job you'd like to learn about, please reach