Agatha Tutia
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Squares 2017: Relationships Make It

Last year as a volunteer, I absorbed all the lessons and latest industry tidbits heralded by the sagacious speakers, and set off to be the best designer in the whole wide world. This year, I listened in on only two talks. Not exactly what I expected, but I believe this year's lesson came more from outside the classroom.

Florida. Minnesota. California. New York. Nebraska. Just a couple of states housing the hundreds of designers and developers from across the country. All of them conglomerated for a little ol' tech conference in the heart of Texas. People I normally would never share a sidewalk with. People with their own stories and reasons for doing what they do and loving it. We talked about work as well as anacondas eating gators, the weird cool names of Minnesota, working on a start up in the manufacturing industry, why design is a solution, and how to possibly sneak into Comic Con. We bonded. We exchanged cards. We followed each other on Instagram. We built a community.

Relationships, my friends, are more valuable than the latest processors or UI tools. Clicking with someone in a brief moment and recognizing the other as a talented and intellectual human being is as fundamental as gravity. It brings us together. Strangers sharing a commonality can change the world. Look at the French Revolution, starving peasants and the bourgeoisie didn't really know each other, but they were pissed enough to guillotine a whole bunch of rich people together. Okay, that was a bit hyperbolic, but my point is, with our fellow comrades, we can accomplish more than if we were alone. Can imagine trying to guillotine someone by yourself? That's clearly no fun.

Squares provided me an opportunity to enter a community of designers and developers. To make new relationships and solidify old ones. And with each person, opportunities to learn, to trust, and to collaborate with another organically arose. Networking to me is a meh word. It dehumanizes what are supposed to be authentic moments, and uses people for their own ends. For me, I'd rather my intentions center on earning and reciprocating trust with another before work and collaborations. Your passions and character matter more to me than your degree or position.

As I enter this industry as a UX Designer, I don't want to "network," I want to make relationships. This coming year at University of Washington, cementing my hard skill repertoire in interaction design, user experience and research, coding, and prototyping will be a breeze, but I believe the relationships I acquire will determine how far I'll go.