profession March 1, 2019

Aren’t you too old to be a designer?

How many times have you been asked this question? And how many times did you actually thought that it makes sense?
I know that I have and more than once, wrongly.

It started when I managed to get in touch with a designer, whose company and work I really admired.
We meet one morning at a Coffee shop, and I was prepared to do an interview for Melted.
I was excited and ready, only to realize that he was under the impression he would be the one interviewing me. You see, he wanted to hire someone for his company, and our mutual acquaintance mentioned that I could be a good candidate.
Although I was caught off-guard, I agreed to give up on the interview and let him ask me some questions. After that, I could ask some questions in return (I was still curious about the company).

Fast forwarding that part of the interview, he said something that stuck with me long after our conversation: my age could be a problem. My mind went blank. What does this mean? I’m 26 (now 27) years old, how can my age be a problem?

You see, according to him (and he’s not the only one to think it), I wasn’t able to do a professional internship supported by the Portuguese Government (we have those, and I had already done one) and at the same time, it was a bit late for me to start as a junior designer. W-T-F?

I remember coming home after meeting him that morning, and all I could think about was that it was too late. I was a 26-year-old, unemployed woman who just wanted a shot at becoming a designer.

How things turned out

A month or so later, I went to an interview to be an in-house designer. You can imagine how nervous I was, but me and this crazy girl (she was actually my manager), clicked right away.

Do you know that feeling when you speak to someone for the first time, and you feel that the person truly gets you?
She didn’t really care about my age, she just wanted to know more about me, my expectations, and what I could bring to the table. Real expectations from a person looking to find someone that could be a good asset to the team.

To this day, I have to thank her for that, and for all the support she gave me while we work together. Maybe she doesn’t know, but she restored some of the trust that I had lost on that coffee shop.
Even though we no longer work together, she still bosses me around if I say something more demeaning about my work. That’s what good managers and good people do.

So, if you ever get into a position similar to mine, find your Maria. She will scare the shit out of you, and say what a bulshit that is. You will laugh together, but you’ll know that she’s being sincere and she’s right.

Real life example of never being too old to be a designer

I decided to show you a true story about how little age can matter to becoming a designer, so you can stop feeling sorry about yourself.
Her name is Barbara Beskind, and she’s now 95 years old. Six years ago, she sent a letter to a company, asking if she could work for them. After an interview with her, she became part of the team.

Barbara wanted to be an inventor at a very young age, but for that, she needed to study engineering. Back then, she couldn’t do it because it was reserved for men only. But she never stopped inventing.

She served in the army, and later became an occupational therapist, who helped many children with learning disorders.
At 90 years old, she saw IDEO on a tv show, and she felt it was the place for her to be; she wanted to share her “passion for problem-solving and innovative design.”

Regardless of her being legally blind, she goes to work once a week at the office. She moves around with glasses and sky jets that she invented, and customized for herself. She found a way to do what passions her and didn’t let her condition stop her from doing so.
At IDEO, people listen and respect Barbara. She gives a valuable contribution to projects for elderly people, and she’s an amazing asset for the company, and they know it.

I finally achieved my childhood dream of becoming a designer… it just took 80 years.

Barbara Beskind

Age only means something if you want it

If you don’t believe me when I say that you’re not too old to become a designer, then believe Barbara.
Stop listening to those that say you can’t do it. Remember what Barbara Beskind said and go after your dream.

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