Desk Lunch Issue 16
Advocating For Yourself

As a Junior Interactive Designer at a small (but recently acquired!) digital experience studio called Helios Interactive (now called Helios Interactive: A Freeman Company), we create everything and anything digital, from touch screen applications to full virtual reality games. I love my work, I love experimenting with new technology, and I definitely plan to stay in this industry. For those reasons, I prioritize my personal growth as a designer and professional – advocating for myself and my growth at work is critical.

I have a collection of things I actively and consciously do to advocate for and support my growth every day. I feel like these things aren’t necessarily specific to designers, or even to the tech industry, and they can certainly benefit women and non-binary folks of any discipline.

Be Present
Participate, even if something is optional. Volunteer to join planning committees or charity events with coworkers. Always speak up during a meeting if you have something to contribute. You’re not going to sound stupid, and people aren’t going to linger on your comment for nearly as long as you think they are. Demand to be heard, and demand credit where it is due.

Be Forward
Vouch for yourself, always. You don’t get what you don’t ask for. Negotiate for a higher pay, request to attend a company-sponsored conference, talk to your supervisor about being put on project that interests you, and ask for more responsibilities. Question processes and suggest better solutions. Take on challenging projects or leadership opportunities, even if you don’t feel 100% qualified. Give yourself opportunities to learn.

Be Conscious
Believe that your contributions matter, because they do. Check yourself on how often you preface what you say with “sorry” (we do this more than we might realize). You don’t have to apologize for speaking. Check yourself on how often you lighten what you say with “just”. You’re not bothering your colleagues by speaking to them; you’re doing your job. You don’t have to make yourself small. Take up space.

Be Involved
Connect with other women and non-binary folks at your company, especially if there aren’t many. In addition, connect with other women and non-binary folks within your industry. Reach out to people you admire on LinkedIn and Twitter. Post your work everywhere and seek feedback. Promote the non-work stuff you do to your coworkers. Go to networking events and approach people first (bring business cards!). Go to events for women in tech. Do what you can to stay up to date on industry innovations and news. Participate in brainstorms at work, even if you’re the only woman – especially if you’re the only woman. Offer diversity of thought. Talk about your experiences as a femme or non-binary individual to people who might not have had them. Be curious. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, especially if you’re the youngest or newest person on the team. Show how much you want to learn, and those around you will be more than willing to teach you. If you'd like to learn more, check out this site:

Take care of yourself. We all know that society instills in us a tendency to lessen ourselves. We all know that we are underrepresented in this industry. Find people to look up to and, in turn, be someone for the next generation of creatives to look up to. Be selfish. Demand your place.

Julianne Burke is a Junior Interactive Designer at Helios Interactive in San Francisco, CA. Find her on social @julianne_burke on Twitter, @juuuulianne on Instagram, or on Behance.

Painting used in this issue: "Get Directions (Straight)" Hayv Kahraman
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