We asked our class of four talented apprentices to share their experience learning and working with the Fresh Tilled Soil team during the 15-week AUX program. Here’s what Oriane had to say:
The AUX program was not what I expected.
When I received the email notification that Fresh Tilled Soil was accepting applications for their AUX program, I was totally pumped. I signed up to be notified about the program, and had been waiting in anticipation. While I had human-centered research and design projects in my portfolio, I didn’t feel like I had a solid case study to submit like the ones I was seeing in other UX design portfolios. So I gave myself a project and made one. Sounds easy when I put it that way – the reality was that I stressed over every little detail.
After submitting my application, I got an email that I was invited to Fresh Tilled Soil’s AUX Bootcamp. While this sounded pretty hardcore, I was totally ready. The momentum was already there from working on my case study, and this time around I figured I might actually know what I was doing. The design thinking workshop answered a lot of my questions about process. At the end of it, we were given the challenge I knew was coming – apply what we learned about design thinking to individually prototype an app during the next week. The app needed to be relevant to the area of education (an area I happened to be particularly interested in). Again, pumped.
I used the next week to explore an idea for a sign language learning app following an unfamiliar five-step design sprint process. The result was a painfully plain looking prototype I was not too eager to share. I was convinced that somehow I blew it. At the very least, I felt confident knowing I learned a lot from the experience, so that was what I presented.
Then I was accepted into the program. I was excited but also confused. Did they see the prototype I presented? Did I miss something?
Now having completed the program, I can safely say, yes, I did miss something. I was missing confidence in my design decisions and trust in my process. Research-based, iterative design is something I learned about and used in school but had yet to really experience professionally. I’d started to lose sight of it along the way. The AUX program gave me the opportunity to regain that confidence and trust in my own approach to design. I worked on client projects with an amazing team of supportive, knowledgeable individuals truly committed to human-centered design. I collaborated, commiserated, and grew with other apprentices. And I strengthened my skills while working on a project I am passionate about. That idea for an app I was afraid to show anyone the very first prototype for? That developed into a user experience that might actually make a difference in someone’s life down the road. I’d consider that a solid case study.
I’m never going to know exactly what to do and how to do it when thrown a challenge. There will always be things I need to learn and assumptions I need to test for every iteration of any project I will ever work on. Now I know that I can handle that.