Looking Back on a Year of Growth

It's been nearly a year since I left the World Bank to explore new skills and industries in San Francisco.

To be honest, I loved my job in Washington, D.C., and I might still be there today if family hadn't brought me to the West Coast. I grew up and attended graduate school in the D.C. area, and I was energized by the growing community of professionals who were transitioning from government affairs to web design and user experience.

So I made a list: What had I accomplished since leaving what felt like a dream job? And as it turns out, I had a lot to feel good about.

Here's what I've been up to since my last post in January:

  • In a user experience design course, I researched and wireframed a mobile app to connect users with Chinese language exchange partners.
  • I honed my user research skills by carrying out user interviews and usability tests for the City of San Francisco.
  • Through a civic engagement consulting firm, I developed a marketing and content strategy for Startup in Residence, a program that pairs startups with city governments.
  • As a content strategist for a digital agency, I'm fulfilling a longtime goal of working on online communities and onboarding tools for patients with chronic illnesses. 
  • On the side, I volunteered my time advising a direct trade coffee company that funds education in rural Honduras.

In the words of HBO's "Insecure":

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So, what comes next?

There's a Venn diagram on pursuing meaningful work that you'll find on career blogs and Pinterest boards. My version would look something like this:

  • What does the world need?
  • What comes easily to me?
  • What energizes me?*

And since I was a teenager, my answer has been remarkably similar: using my communication and research skills to help mission-driven teams solve tough challenges.

Back then, I thought my path would be public diplomacy for government agencies. Today, I'm more motivated by global development and urban technology.

I spend a lot of time focusing on areas for improvement — particularly as a digital strategist, where there's always a new skill or tool to master. But one year into this career transition, I'm making an effort to recognize how much I've grown.

* Time flies by — what some call entering a "flow state"  when I'm writing reports or designing user personas. Sadly for my paycheck, it's been quite the opposite for studying statistics and CSS.