Matthew Mesaros
7/23/14

One Month In

To understand the momentousness of my time at Creative Mellen requires a bit of a regression. My name is Matthew Mesaros, and two years ago I presumed to be a designer. My presumption couldn’t have been more hilariously wrong.

I was struggling to cobble together freelance web design work here and there. Some projects I undertook met with a insignificant measure of success, while others, then and in the recent past, are laughably bad. This wasn’t a result of unfamiliarity with software or code, or even poor technique or workflow (though this is certainly true to some extent). The problem was much more intransigent: I didn’t understand or appreciate what design ought to be.

More than any single event in the whole of my twenty-eight years, I must credit the decision to enroll at the University of Iowa (and a woman named Johanna for encouraging it) as principally responsible for my development as a coder, entrepreneur, organizer and, yes, a problem-solver. This isn’t mere approbation for this particular university or a call to action for college generally. You can potentially spare yourself a great deal of debt without heeding my recommendation. I can only speak for my own experience that this place worked for me because I allowed it to.

I had attended more than one college before years earlier and never once enjoyed it, but here I began to appreciate academia as an end in itself. Some classes were immensely fun. My skills improved dramatically. I developed a process for handling print and web. I met some very talented young people who emboldened me to take on various projects that in the past I would have been woefully unqualified to tackle.

So wherein does Creative Mellen fit? I feel it is important to chart my trajectory through university to the present in order to put this job in perspective. I call it a ‘job’ purposefully. It has never felt like an internship and I have never felt like an ‘intern’. My input, experience and skills are respected, but also questioned. I’ve worked on nearly a dozen client projects in some respect, and with some I’ve been given enormous creative license. But I’m also restricted in just the right way. Since I’ve by and large worked alone in the past I’ve had to learn to be collaborative, receptive and impartial. This place and these people make it easy. I can assuredly say that I’ve done some of my best work here and it is precisely because Creative Mellen encourages me to.

Now I have process. I’ve learned to fail faster. I sketch ideas until something makes sense for the project at hand, and I discard it as soon as it doesn’t. I’ve become more pliable: I have my own established system, but I can work with other software or methodology when the project (or Kevin) demands it. I’m still not a great designer, developer, presenter, organizer or entrepreneur, but I’m getting closer.

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