Things have changed significantly in the last fifteen years, but when I was in school, the RGD was hardly mentioned at all. The popular opinion in my school at the time was that awards and the quality of one's portfolio were everything, and associations were simply a waste of time.
So eight years ago, when I was getting ready to make a career move, I started looking for networking opportunities. I had a solid portfolio, but I wanted to make connections, sharpen my skills and improve my job prospects. It turns out a design association was just what I was looking for.
Although I initially subscribed to the RGD newsletter for the job postings, it wasn't long before I started looking forward to the weekly source of inspiration and online articles. I attended an Information Session, and after hearing about the certification process and perks, I knew the RGD was for me.
Joining a study group was my first authentic experience with RGD and I encourage everyone to join one. Preparing for the test portion of the certification process was an excellent refresher in design theory and business practices. It was also a great excuse to meet other designers.
Why I love being an RGD
Working as a Government in-house designer, I can sometimes feel isolated from the rest of the industry. RGD helps keep me connected to a much larger community of designers. While the DesignThinkers conference is definitely a highlight of my year, the smaller in-person events, lunch-hour webinars and the LinkedIn discussion group are all ways that I connect and learn from other members.
Giving back to the RGD community is something I'm very passionate about and through my work at the Government of Ontario, I've learned a lot about accessibility. Presenting webinars, writing articles and being part of the accessibility committee are small ways that I can help other designers prepare as our industry adapts to this new challenge.
Helping the next generation of designers is also really important to me as a professional. I look forward to helping students with their portfolios at Creative Directions each March, and I plan to be a speaker in the future. More recently, being on the certification board has given me fresh insight into our industry. RGD does so much more than simply supporting designers; by promoting excellence, sharing information and advocating for what matters, an association like RGD raises the bar for everyone.