(Yes, there’s definitely a problem with the pacing of my posts. I’m afraid we’ll both have to get over it. Moving on.)
At the end of September 2020, Penn State IT unveiled a major realignment, letting 31 people go, eliminating some groups while recombining others all within a single afternoon. At 2:45 pm I was working for an application development studio. By 3:00 pm I discovered my reporting line was changing, and at 9:00 am the next morning I was reporting to a communications group. A communications group??? It was madness, to say the least. Blame the pandemic, blame the new CIO, blame years of budgets too long-running in the red, blame new organizational needs, and — who knows? — probably some behind-the-scenes horse-trading as well. Whatever the reasons, I had been unceremoniously dumped into an environment far different from the one in which I normally exist, and told to deal with it. Truth be told, I’m still rather salty about it. But needs must, as the British say, and we move forward, trying to make sense of this confusion. After all, a paycheck during a pandemic is not a guaranteed thing.
It has been a rough five-month adjustment for us all. Bringing four partial teams together to format a new single cohesive workgroup takes a lot of work, negotiations, adjustments, and course corrections. There are (at least) four different teams are used to working together; four different sets of methodologies, four sets of processes that (often) struggle to coexist with each other, four groups of people who were comfortable working together as a team but must now relearn how to do that while adding new people, new job functions, and oh yeah, trust. I’m only just starting to get my feet back under me as I still try to suss out what my new role is as a UX designer in a communications group. I’m mostly working with websites (not my favorite) and trying to incorporate user experience and accessibility wherever I can manage it. After all, both are equally important aspects of life whether online or in the real world, and, as Doctor Evil said, “The world is a mess and I just… need to rule it.”
In the meantime — because let’s face it, the future is uncertain and it’s best to be prepared for whatever happens next — I’m diving into the outstanding job of getting my (still unfinished!) portfolio in order. We’ve each just completed a retrospective of all our work over the past 18 months, so the details on these projects are surprisingly fresh in my head now and this is the perfect opportunity to circle back to this task. Always a sucker for the two birds, one stone concept, I’m using the Divi theme for WordPress because we are encouraging others to use it across the Penn State community, so I need to get more comfortable with how far I can push it, what are its strengths, and where are the drawbacks. When last I stopped, I couldn’t figure out how I wanted to handle project pages, but I’ve got a pretty good idea of what I want now, and I’m making my own templates to support that vision. As the writer in me knows, a blank page is hard. Editing is easy.
Change is seldom comfortable right out of the gate, but sooner or later I always find positive takeaways I can use moving forward. Maybe I needed to broaden my focus, and learn to adapt my skills to new areas. Maybe I will have to do more web governance and content strategy. Maybe I just needed to be reminded that being able to improvise, adapt, and overcome is a valuable skill to have in your toolkit.
Especially when somebody hits reset.