Last year, Melissa Morris Ivone made a HUGE change, leaving a comfortable but not-too-inspiring job with an in-house team at a pharmaceutical and going to work for a startup company in Philadelphia. She works with Curalate, a new firm that provides marketing insights for brands (like Gap, Campbell’s and Saks Fifth Avenue) that want to understand how customers are using Pinterest and Instagram.
On Wednesday, March 27, Melissa is hosting an online design tutorial, 6 Ways Designers Can Avoid Burnout and Embrace Change, to share her advice on making big changes to your design career, shifting from print to web design, and learning from the world of startups. We asked Melissa what it was like to make the leap from print to web design in her own creative career.
Talk about what it was like to make such a radical career shift. Was the transition scary or exhilarating—or both?
Initially, I went through a period where I was absolutely terrified. How could I leave the place that had been my “home” for a decade? It wasn’t my dream job in any sense, but I had a massive level of comfort there which can be tough to give up. There are certain perks that come along with a tenure like that: flexibility, a nice office with an Aeron chair, great vacation time.
But the right opportunity presented itself, and I was at a good position to make a change. And I have never been so happy. I can honestly say now that I love my job. I went from having that Sunday night dread to actually feeling legitimately excited to go to into the office each morning. It’s exhilarating! I feel really privileged.
What appealed to you about working with a startup company?
In 2011, I participated in an event called Startup Weekend. You spend one weekend, 54 hours, working on a team to create and launch a web and/or mobile application which could be a credible business. It only took that one weekend for me to become fascinated with the world of startups. I discovered that they are an excellent opportunity for designers, and I quickly became more involved with the Philadelphia startup community, even becoming an organizer for the upcoming Philadelphia Startup Weekend.
The thing that I really love about being a part of a startup is the fact that I’m not just a service employee anymore. I’m part of a team, helping to build something awesome. What I do matters.
You’ve said that, given your background as a print designer, interactive design kind of freaked you out, that it felt like learning a foreign language or something. How did you embrace your inner tech geek?
Everything about it is completely new to me. I’m quickly learning about the industry as a whole. I’ve never really done interactive design before, and now I’m creating interfaces for a web platform and designing websites. And because startups move so quickly, there’s a lot of “fake it till you make it.”
My mind has been opened to new possibilities, including an exploration into user experience design. It almost feels like I’m starting my career over again, but in a good way.
Hear more from Melissa as she shares her experience and offers advice for your own creative career. Register now!