From Contractor to Startups: My 2012

in Thoughts & Wonderings, Work-related

What a long, strange trip it’s been. Two years ago today, I still worked at SAIC with all of my friends at SAMHSA – a place I spent seven and a half years of my career at. A year ago today, I was at Monster. Today, I’m now at Motorize. It’s been an interesting progression, personally.

My work at SAMHSA was as a contractor for SAIC. I stayed in one place (for the most part – I did work on a few other contracts during my time there, but SAMHSA was always in the foreground) for a very long time, and learned just about everything there is to know about being a federal contractor. Not to mention, of course, all of the valuable knowledge I picked up about accessibility and Section 508.

Three years ago, however, I felt the pull of wanting more. I wanted back into the private sector – to have the chains of federal UX / Web Design torn away so I could have full creative freedom. Alas, not a lot of companies in the DC area were interested in hiring someone who “has fantastic skills and experience” but “has been federalized too long”. Basically an excuse in the web design world to say, “We like you and you’ve done good things, but federal design isn’t cutting-edge enough.” Still, I pushed on.

Then Monster came around – specifically the Government Solutions division, but it was a private company none-the-less. I had an in – a friend who worked there in Operations who discovered a role on the Product Team was opening – one for a Sr. User Experience Designer. I jumped at it. I interviewed three times, and got in. I was ecstatic! Finally, design freedom!

Well, not quite. Monster was a great experience – a wonderful transition. I was doing good UX and IA work, but it was for federal clients in a system that was 10+ years old and hadn’t had a real design overhaul, well, ever. It was rewarding, though, working with a Product team and learning the ropes of designing SaaS products, working within an Agile framework, and understanding how a product goes to market and sells. Not to mention, Monster sent me to Prague – my first trip out of the US, ever – and that was an amazing experience in and of itself.

Then, in late June 2012, my friend Brian approached me about moving from doing freelance here and there for Motorize, a wonderful startup in Baltimore that he’d bee working at since 2008, to becoming a full-time, plank owner on their small team. It was everything I’d wanted in my career – complete and total freedom to design, and to be there to build a product from the ground up.

I’m now five months in at Motorize, and I’m loving every day of it. I’ve learned so much, and have been able to offer a great deal to the company and my cohorts here. There have been, and will continue to be, challenges in getting a new product in a somewhat niche market out there. We still haven’t started making any revenue, in fact. But we’re close. We’re at the final stages of launch prep, and we’ve got several pilot clients lined up.

My resolution for 2013 is to get back to posting here, and on my twitter account (@scottasavage). Also, keep an eye out for a redesign of Motorize.com – it should be one of my finest sites yet.

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