It was inevitable, really. Every course in college once begun will soon end with Finals. Whether an exam, essay, paper, or project, there’s always something at the end of the class which requires attention and effort. The blogging is slowing down because of it, but the learning process keeps on. Here’s some lessons that I’ve learned about myself this semester.
I’m not going on for my PhD. Writing papers is fun, theory is fun, but if I’m going to be pouring this kind of effort into my work then I’m damned well going to get paid for it, and paid well. Maybe when I retire I’ll finish out a PhD, but the Masters is more than enough for now. Seriously. I can still contribute to the dialogue of the profession and the advancement of interactive communications without the terminal degree. In fact, I’m much more likely to contribute in a meaningful way to the advancement of this field by working than I am by studying. I’ll learn what I need as I go along, and I’ll earn money, too.
If I ever do come back to academia for a final time, it will be after I’ve demonstrated the mastery that a Master’s Degree is supposed to impart. It makes much more sense to me to break up academic schooling with life experiences in between. At times I look around at my classmates and think… we are sitting in the exact same classroom, we’re in the same school, with the same teachers and assignments, but are we really getting the same education here? Earlier on I’d do a reading assignment and my brain would catch fire with all of the possibilities triggered by a single paragraph. Others in class would comment about being bored by the reading and not seeing much use in it. I’m fairly confident that this degree has really put my experiences leading up to it into perspective. I’m not exactly certain whether or not the program would be equally beneficial to students who don’t come to the table with working experiences to begin with. I have to assume that it is, but students who have never paid their dues in climbing the corporate ladder may be in for some rude awakenings, even with their advanced degrees.
With that in mind, I’m comfortable in saying that if ever I do return to pursue a PhD in academia, I’ll probably end up doing so after another 5-10 years of work in this field, first. It feels like a much more logical progression, to interject life experience and work experience between learning experiences. I believe it will help give a much better perspective on things, and assist in being able to get the learning out of the ivory tower and into practical application.
Collaborative Work is A Different Beast Entirely
Seriously, one major suggestion that I have for any course which is going to assign collaborative projects at the end… assign one at the beginning of class, smaller in scale and scope. Just to be certain that everyone in the class understands what the collaborative writing process entails. Lemme tell ya, this white paper project for ICM501 has really opened my eyes to just exactly how different collaboration really is.
I’m not complaining, but this is my first time working at this level on a project like this with other people. It’s hard mostly just because I have never undergone this process before, and I’m not sure whether what we’re doing is happening in the right direction and on the right timeline. I can’t judge where we are in the process, because I don’t understand what’s involved with this kind of work yet. I’m making it up as I/we go along and praying that it all comes out okay at the end.
On a related note, suddenly the idea of our presentation on Thursday being filmed and shared online is daunting. Scary, even. I don’t want to be videotaped. I don’t want there to be a record of this presentation, even if we nail it. I just want this project to be done and gone forever. Not because it’s bad or hard, but just because I’ve got so much extra crap to do and so many other projects, I feel like I can’t devote sufficient time to anything so everything is coming out late and substandard quality. Who wants that kind of record to stick around? I’d put in more effort, but again, I don’t understand the process of collaboration so I have no effing clue whether or not more effort is called for or needed.
I’m glad I’ve got my partners for this. It’s a relief to be able to rely on them for help. I just really wish I had some way to gauge the process to tell whether we were screwed or right on schedule, or even ahead of the curve. Working with other people has always been a major challenge for me, and I feel very insecure in this whole process on a number of different fronts. Fingers crossed and get it done. But is it natural that even with an annotated bibliography and an outline that the entire project had to incorporate a major shift in focus last minute because the research we thought was there turned out not to be enough for our original focus?
Such a major portion of our grade, and so difficult without any sense of what the process should be. Tough stuff. First major research paper I’ve had to write in 13 years and it’s part of a collaborative team. Welcome to Web 2.0 culture, sir.
Hands Off, Please. Extremely.
If I never had to open photoshop again as part of my job duties I would die happy. I’m so sick of graphic design, web design, and being hands on. I did that. I’ve got a decade of time put in the bullpen. I don’t want to be the person responsible for the actual doing. I used to think that was where “it” was, but it’s not. When you’re an artist or a Creative or involved in hands-on production skills at all, you are a tool. In art school they talk about learning how to be Creative and learning how to design and how to bring your own ideas out, but the reality of the commercial art world is that the person making the graphics has very little to say about what they’re making. Even now at my current job I find myself grinding my teeth and resenting to high heavens every time that I’m the one who opens up a production program in order to do something.
Nope, hands off for me. I’m ready for management. I’m ready for strategy. I’m ready to be part of the planning and thinking, the guide and the vision. Let someone else do the making, and let them do it to my satisfaction. Ultimate role reversal given the last 10 years in design where I was, essentially, the bitch of everyone else. Too bad I’m not a straight white male who plays golf, drives a BMW and has a trophy wife. I guess I’ve got to figure out a different way to gain entry into the ranks of management. I’m counting on this Masters and my previous experience to open those doors. Project Management looks like the way to get ahead for now.
This is key, because for years I was toiling as a laboring corporate wage slave, but the real talents and skills I bring to the table are more along the planning and visionary lines. Gotta work on getting a position like that. *lol* I’ll tell everyone when I’ve discovered that job.
Back to the Grind
It’s time to head back to the grind. I’ve been waiting for the rest of the team to wake up and comment or revise the collaborative paper. In the meantime I’ve got a backlog of design work to do to blow out the individual pages of the website I built wireframes for back in ICM512. I’ve also got ICM504 final project iterations which are due… good luck on that, really. I guess I’ll just have to do one project and make it good, there, but that will happen on Saturday. I’ve got to reach out to the campus contact point again about doing packaging work for part of my Grad Assistantship. And I really need to think of something to do for my final project in ICM508. Some kind of interview on film which lasts for 90 seconds.
But all of that is for later. I’ve got a full day’s work ahead of me at my job, leaving early for a doctor’s appointment in Bridgeport at 6pm, and working on putting together an RFP (request for proposal) for an internet technology build that my company has sold in to clients without actually having the infrastructure or software necessary to implement the kind of solution they want. And the sad thing is, *I’m* the expert. Har har har. “And now, the amazing sPacio shall pull a complete, functional, and profitable interactive solution out of his ass! And for his next trick, he’ll be asked to build it… without using any money or outside resources!”
I’ve gotta find a new job.