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Assembling the Next Generation of Digital Talent

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Fresh recently invited a group of General Assembly graduates to the office for practical exposure to our Seattle-based, internationally present, design and development firm. It was a great opportunity for the students to see an agency in action. It was an equally great opportunity – and true honor – for Fresh to meet the promising next generation of digital talent.

According to their website: “General Assembly transforms thinkers into creators through education and opportunities in technology, business, and design.” Practical coursework – taught by working professionals in focused, intensive sessions – is the core of GA’s education-to-employment approach.

Full disclosure: I have a special place in my heart for General Assembly. I attended their Seattle User Experience Design Immersive in the fall of 2015, and was hired at Fresh shortly thereafter.

My journey into the UX field was somewhat unorthodox. After college, I taught English in urban high schools for 5 years, while writing and doing my own design work outside of the classroom. After developing years of pedagogical knowledge and skills, I decided I wanted to formally shift to a career in the creative field. But how, exactly, does teaching experience translate to UX design? Without a formal design background, how could such a drastic career change be possible?

I had the requisite background in critical thinking and problem solving, but I needed practical design skills to effectively bridge the gap between my aspirations and reality. When I first read GA’s mission statement last year, I saw my path and applied later that day.

I attribute my rapid transition into the creative field to the time I spent at General Assembly. By focusing on developing relevant and in-demand skills with UX specialists Court Crawford and Ashley Karr, I was able to execute a 180-degree career change in 4 months.

At Fresh, I’m constantly challenged to build on the foundation I established at General Assembly. I regularly find that the best practices I learned at General Assembly directly apply to the projects I work on for local, national, and international companies. So, it seemed only natural for us to connect with more GA grads.

All reports were that the visit was informative and inspiring. Key Fresh team members imparted useful industry insights and practical hiring advice in the following presentations:

  • Jeff Dance, CEO, gave an overview of Fresh, our values, our uniquely differentiated design and development processes, and our proprietary software, Invent Value
  • Johnny Rodriguez, Director of Strategic Innovation, reviewed our ongoing collaboration with Whitepages
  • Marc Wallace, Art & UX Director, discussed our research and design work with National Bank of Jamaica
  • Steve Hulet, CTO, discussed Fresh’s rigorous hiring process to find the best developers on the market

I was also invited to give a presentation on the research and writing work I’ve done at Fresh, as well as my insights for those looking to find work in an increasingly competitive field. The message summed up to:

We’re in a dynamic digital age where you have to commit to being a lifelong learner in order to stay on the leading edge of innovation.

I’ve seen first hand that General Assembly Seattle is advocating for this philosophy and teaching the necessary skills to actualize it.

I see Fresh putting this philosophy into action every day – in our ongoing collaborations with clients, in our approach to creative work, and in our commitment to growing as individuals, as a team, and as a company.

Looking out as I gave my short presentation, I saw 20 immensely talented designers and developers. And while we imparted insights and advice to the recent graduates, they reminded us of the importance of grit, determination, and being willing to innovate and translate your thinking into creation. This mindset is what leads to one of Fresh’s most emphasized points, one that has led us to become leaders in the digital space – that is, the constant and continuous invention of value.

Since the visit, our office’s GA contingent has grown by one. Eunice Do, who recently completed General Assembly Seattle’s UX Design Immersive, joined Fresh as a UX Designer. She is already a valued addition to the Fresh Consulting Team.

Ben Spencer

Ben Spencer

Digital Content Strategist

Ben is a Digital Content Strategist with a passion for blending design and writing into a cohesive product narrative. An advocate for research, strategy, and discovery at the front end of any project, Ben excels in high-level thinking about how to most effectively tell a brand’s story in an authentic and relevant way.

Ben received Bachelor’s degrees in Film Studies and Religion from Whitman College, as well as a Master’s in Education from Lipscomb University. He studied UX Design and Content Strategy at General Assembly before joining Fresh’s team in January 2016.

Outside of work, Ben enjoys reading voraciously, watching horror movies, playing video games, and building his skill as an aspiring novelist. He spends every second he can with his wife and his two beloved Boxer dogs, California and Tennessee.