Emma Robertson
What difficulties did you face at the beginning of your career?
I dove straight into freelancing when I finished school because I loved the idea of being in complete control of my creative destiny. What I didn’t realize, was that that path could be a very lonely one. At the start of my first year, I moved to a new city (where I knew no one) and worked from home all day long. I quickly realized that I needed a more vibrant and enriching daily design experience. How was I going to learn and grow if I couldn’t chat it up with a desk mate or designer buddy? All this changed a year later when I moved into a shared studio! Lesson learned.
What should a young designer do in order not to get hired by anybody?
Hide your personality. So much of what we create is a compilation of ourselves — our experiences, our taste, our humor, etc... Let your work shine but don’t forget to let your personality out a bit too!
Are there any things you wish you knew at the beginning of your career?
I have recently figured out that guiding the client through the feedback process is incredibly beneficial. I used to just let them word-vomit their random thoughts out into the world and would try to make sense of it on my own. Now, I ask them very specific questions that helps everyone stay on track. I remind them that good feedback relates to goals and user needs. Bad feedback is subjective and prescriptive!
Are there any rules or habits that help you do your job more efficiently?
I am constantly reminding myself to relax — mentally and physically! Taking care of yourself is key. You would think this would be obvious but you’d be surprised. Whenever I get stressed, blocked, or doubtful... I tend to work even longer and harder hours, in an attempt to solve the problem(s) as quickly as possible. I have to chose to take a moment and put everything into perspective. I must remind myself that I will always arrive at the end solution, whether I stay up until 3am hacking away at it or if I get a good nights rest and pick it back up in the morning. The healthier route is the best route. A relaxed mind and body yields efficiency.
Would you recommend some books that young designers might find useful?
Breaking the Time Barrier  by Mike McDerment (FreshBooks cofounder and CEO). Hint: It’s a free download on their website!
Emma answered the questions on November 12, 2014.
The answers were published on November 17, 2014.