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 Sarah had to say:
As I walked into the vast office space at Fresh Tilled Soil on my first day of the AUX program, this unique creative pulse permeated through the air: inspiring, exciting, stimulating. Of course, I was nervous — but not because I was doubting myself. On the contrary, I felt oddly capable to tackle anything thrown my way. I was grateful, because AUX uncovered this potential in me that I never knew existed.
I knew from day one, that this was going to be a change of pace for me. During our first all-company “Scrum” meeting, one of the founders, Richard Banfield, warmly welcomed our apprentice group but firmly told us, “If you’re sitting behind your computer all day, you’re not doing your job.” This served as an introduction to how things are done in the world of UX: having conversations, whiteboarding ideas, and getting out and interacting with real people. It’s not about pushing pixels, it’s about banging your head against the wall after sifting through days of research and trying to make some sense of it. It’s about taking everything you’ve gathered, throwing it all out on a table and uncovering insights, drawing connections, and formulating solutions.
The challenges assigned to us were not for the faint of heart. They required me to jump way outside of my comfort zone and dive deep into the depths of the UX process. I learned by doing — a lot. Whether it was interviewing bakery shop owners or running usability tests on college campuses, I went home each day with a better understanding of what’s required to be a great UX designer. I learned to embrace the process and appreciate the small accomplishments made along the way.
We had invaluable help from everyone at Fresh Tilled Soil, the team is one-of-a-kind. They took us in not just as apprentices, but as team members, individually offering their expertise one-on-one. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to gather different UX perspectives from some of the best design leaders around. We each had mentors who would routinely check-in with us on our progress, offer guidance, and give feedback on our work. And us apprentices helped each other as well — a kind of support system where we could vent about our shared frustrations and relish over our accomplishments all the same. It’s a great feeling to be able to walk away not just with solid skills, but with a talented network of colleagues and friends too.
As my final week of AUX winds down, I’m preparing to embark on a new adventure into the competitive world of UX. While I feel much more capable than I did prior to my time at Fresh Tilled Soil, I know it’s not going to be easy — but I’m up for the challenge. The AUX program allowed me to recognize my true value and now I’m ready to act on it.