Idea

How to find your voice in design school

Raine Qian

Mobile app on an iPad

Mobile app on an iPhone

Moving across the world to study design isn’t easy. OCAD University alum Raine Qian spoke to us about how she broke through shyness and cultural barriers to become manager of product design at Pivotal Labs in Toronto.

 

Q: Tell us about yourself

Raine: My story starts out when I was back in school in China. I had no idea about design, and it wasn’t really considered to be an actual job.

After graduation from OCAD U, I got a job as a graphic designer but I realized quite quickly that I wasn’t learning much and it was, honestly, not very exciting. An opportunity came up at a mobile development company that was looking for a user interface (UI) designer,

but I had no clue what that actually meant. Luckily for me, they weren’t exactly sure about UI design either, so I got the chance to work and learn at the same time.

 

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you wish you had known when you were back in university?

Raine: I wish I had known the importance of stepping outside of your own comfort zone and talking to people. I used to be a really introverted person. I never liked talking to new people and would avoid every opportunity to talk either to my classmates or professors.

I thought as long as I did my work, got my grades and graduated, everything would be okay. But that’s not really true. School is not only a place to gain knowledge. More importantly, it’s a place for you to practise and search, rather than just sit there and observe.

I would like to tell students who’ve moved here from abroad that you made the decision to travel all the way here, so why not take this as an opportunity to go out there and meet new people outside of your community? If you’re doing exactly what you did back home, then what’s the point of being here?

 

Q: So what was the hard stuff you had to overcome when you were in university?

Raine: Well, I was always a good student and I always studied hard in high school. However, as someone who was new to Canada, I struggled with fitting in. It took me a long time to understand the cultural differences over here and to overcome my shyness.

 

Work by Raine Qian

Q: Did you ever have a dream job?

Raine: I think the idea of a dream job is a trap. If you keep dreaming about the ideal elements in of a job, you become obsessed with it and lose the ability to see the potential in just about any job. You might think people don’t recognize your full potential because it's not your dream job. Actually, it's not the job that defines you, it's you who defines the job.

 

Work by Raine Qian

 

Q: So, do you feel you’re a part of Canadian culture now?

Raine: I feel I am somewhere in between now. The way I think has definitely been influenced by western culture, but deep inside I'm still connected with transnational Chinese values. However, if I ever went back to China, I would need to adapt to the new culture there. Things have changed a lot since I left.

 

 




Raine Qian
Mobile app on an iPad
Mobile app on an iPhone

Moving across the world to study design isn’t easy. OCAD University alum Raine Qian spoke to us about how she broke through shyness and cultural barriers to become manager of product design at Pivotal Labs in Toronto.

 

Q: Tell us about yourself

Raine: My story starts out when I was back in school in China. I had no idea about design, and it wasn’t really considered to be an actual job.

After graduation from OCAD U, I got a job as a graphic designer but I realized quite quickly that I wasn’t learning much and it was, honestly, not very exciting. An opportunity came up at a mobile development company that was looking for a user interface (UI) designer,

but I had no clue what that actually meant. Luckily for me, they weren’t exactly sure about UI design either, so I got the chance to work and learn at the same time.

 

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you wish you had known when you were back in university?

Raine: I wish I had known the importance of stepping outside of your own comfort zone and talking to people. I used to be a really introverted person. I never liked talking to new people and would avoid every opportunity to talk either to my classmates or professors.

I thought as long as I did my work, got my grades and graduated, everything would be okay. But that’s not really true. School is not only a place to gain knowledge. More importantly, it’s a place for you to practise and search, rather than just sit there and observe.

I would like to tell students who’ve moved here from abroad that you made the decision to travel all the way here, so why not take this as an opportunity to go out there and meet new people outside of your community? If you’re doing exactly what you did back home, then what’s the point of being here?

 

Q: So what was the hard stuff you had to overcome when you were in university?

Raine: Well, I was always a good student and I always studied hard in high school. However, as someone who was new to Canada, I struggled with fitting in. It took me a long time to understand the cultural differences over here and to overcome my shyness.

 

Work by Raine Qian

Q: Did you ever have a dream job?

Raine: I think the idea of a dream job is a trap. If you keep dreaming about the ideal elements in of a job, you become obsessed with it and lose the ability to see the potential in just about any job. You might think people don’t recognize your full potential because it's not your dream job. Actually, it's not the job that defines you, it's you who defines the job.

 

Work by Raine Qian

 

Q: So, do you feel you’re a part of Canadian culture now?

Raine: I feel I am somewhere in between now. The way I think has definitely been influenced by western culture, but deep inside I'm still connected with transnational Chinese values. However, if I ever went back to China, I would need to adapt to the new culture there. Things have changed a lot since I left.

 

 

Author: 
Leon Lu
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