I cut my teeth in the late '90s and early 2000s at a small Toronto design firm that valued community, professional development and design excellence. The principals of the firm encouraged us young designers to become involved with RGD; they supported us as we got our provisional memberships and studied for our RGD exams, and even closed the shop for a few days each November to take us all to DesignThinkers — the inspiration highlight of the year. Toronto's huge design community felt very close-knit to me and RGD was a big part of the reason why.
When I moved to a smaller city to practice and raise my family in 2007, I missed my connection with the greater design community. I missed my people! Soon, I reached out and strengthened my involvement with RGD. I joined the Ethics, Webinar and Eastern Ontario Committees, hosted several Future By Design webcast events locally, and served a term on the Board of Directors with some incredibly smart and passionate folks. And of course, my annual trips to DesignThinkers were still the highlight of my year (relishing both the professional inspiration and restful kid-free nights in hotel beds!)
A few years ago, I became a full-time design educator in the city where I live. RGD events and resources have proven even more valuable now, not just to me but to my students. The HeadStart Conference (now called Creative Directions), Student Awards Program and Student Rep Committee are some of the ways RGD helps connect students to their industry and future careers. The Educator Webinar series and new Design Educators Conference offer incredible perspectives and resources to me as a new teacher. And I still go to DesignThinkers every year for inspiration, except now I bring along 30 bright, young design students and watch their minds get blown! What a privilege!
Whether you're a practitioner, an educator or a student, you don't have to be in Toronto to be part of RGD. My experience suggests that designers outside of the GTA get even more benefit when we reach out, get involved, learn more and give back.
To find out how you can get involved with RGD, click here.