Ethan Marcotte now blogs at Unstoppable Robot Ninja.


Weblog entry:

Day zero

Last Friday had a pretty auspicious, if odd, start: getting off the bus, a woman walked up to me and said, “You’re cute. I hope you have a good day.” Now, if you know me, or perhaps have seen the geek parade that is our book cover, you may have some sense of how very damn infrequently this sort of thing happens to me. Still, the woman didn’t seem to be eating lead paint chips at the time, so I took the compliment in stride (read: “I stuttered like a paint mixer for three minutes, then ran off”), and finished my commute. It just managed to add another tinge of the damned surreal to a day that had already promised to be weird in its own right.

You see, it was my last day at a full-time job.

Dedicated readers (hi, Mom) will know that I’ve worked at Harvard University for nearly four years, the past year of which has been spent as the UI lead in the iCommons group, a development shop that builds and maintains the university’s courseware. During my tenure at Harvard, much of my life after the 9-to-5 has been dedicated to freelance work, taking on the odd client project to try and stay sharp, to take on a greater variety of projects, and generally try to improve myself as a designer. I’ve always enjoyed the constraint of client work, and the past few years of freelancing have been no exception. The clients I’ve worked for have been demanding, excellent people, and I feel that I’ve generally grown as a designer as a result.

So as a result, I recently decided that that I wanted to make my littlest design studio, Vertua, my full-time job. The past few months have been some of the busiest I’ve ever seen, and there seems to be no dearth of great work available. So while I’m a touch nervous about this transition, the next few months are going to be very, very busy: each project is one I’m really excited about, and I can’t believe the roster of incredibly talented folks I’ll be collaborating with.

Of course, the other benefit of this decision is, I hope, that I’ll have more time for personal projects. When you’re working two full-time jobs, cracking open Photoshop to work on those new sidesh0w mockups isn’t often at the top of the old priority list. So I don’t think I could be happier at the prospect of between working on this site, putting some honest-to-Pete content on the sad looking splash page that is Vertua, generally spending time with She, and wrapping up a few other exciting things I’m not ready to announce quite yet.

There is, of course, a job posting available for my replacement at Harvard. If you’re interested in working in academia, and helping put a new face on a solid web application, toss your CV into the ring. While I’m not involved with the hiring process, I can tell you that they’re very interested in getting someone who shares my passion for designing an elegant, accessible and usable interface. So if you’re a progressive enhancement wonk with a flair for the creative, you should absolutely apply.

In parting, I leave you with some words from one of the last century’s greatest philosophers:

Never was fool, so we finished school
Never see us sweat, and you’ll never see us drool
Out to rock the globe while it’s still here to rock
Don’t punch girls, and we don’t punch a clock.

Black Sheep, The Choice Is Yours

Poetry for our times, indeed. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to get to work.

Wish me luck.

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