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AUX Reflection: Sylvia Kim


We asked our class of four talented apprentices to share their experiences learning and working with the Fresh Tilled Soil team during the 15-week AUX program. Check out what our apprentice Sylvia Kim had to say:

Everyone has taken their fair share of personality and work style questionnaires. They tell you if you’re more cerebral or an idea generator, the perfectionist or the risk taker. I didn’t need a quiz to tell myself that I’m motivated by validation. While I don’t think I come off as needy, the moments that make my workday are the little bits of praise and recognition of good work. And for me previously, good work usually meant perfect work. My introduction to UX and completion of the AUX program did a hell of a job dismantling my idea of success as perfectly performed tasks and an absence of mistakes.

When I applied to the apprenticeship program and participated in a five-day design sprint, Steve Hickey, the program director, repeated again and again, “show process.” He wasn’t concerned with the polished and perfect, he wanted to see how we navigated through murky waters of assumptions. It was in those places of ugly sketches and napkin scrawlings where the ideas and insights lived. Without the pressure and expectation to show an immaculate final project, and instead, an invitation to explore my roadblocks and mistakes, I created a prototype for Boston Public School families to find a good school fit and register for school. I was accepted into the program for choosing an important problem, knowing where to constrain myself and show focus, and exhibiting a curiosity and an awareness for issues that extend beyond my own cultural boundaries. I would have never been able to show those strengths if I relied on my traditional understanding of a successful project.

Fresh Tilled Soil’s apprenticeship gave me a chance to develop my portfolio, work with smart designers, and chances to receive criticism. I’ve learned to trust the UX process by getting my hands dirty with my fellow apprentices. I’ve been introduced to new mentors in my life, people I trust to be honest even when it’s not convenient for them. I’ve learned how to thoughtfully maneuver through client meetings and capitalize on my emotional intelligence. More importantly, those opportunities gave me a chance to build and repair my own confidence. My confidence isn’t as fragile as it once was. I know my work is strong and I know what I’m worth. And I don’t need anyone to validate that.

To learn more about Sylvia, check out her portfolio website or connect with her on LinkedIn.

Author Sylvia Kim

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