In addition to the EMERGE 2.0 launch video, the EMERGE Content Team spoke with EMERGE founders Jenny Price and Katrin Loss to get a behind the scenes look at how EMERGE 2.0 was developed.
Q: What inspired you to take this initiative on?
EMERGE came into being as a result of Pop–Up Innovate Mash–Up, one of the original AIGA Innovate grants, awarded to AIGA Minnesota in 2015. Six AIGA chapters met to develop along the goals of relevancy and cultivating transformative community impact through the engagement of design.
The underlying issue is that for designers entering into the profession, honing new skills, networking, and career decisions can be daunting. Emerging professionals often disconnect from AIGA at a moment in their career when membership value is key and building personal relationships for future leadership roles becomes critical.
EMERGE 2.0 is powered by AIGA Minnesota’s third AIGA Innovate grant, awarded in July 2017. Through a pivotal partnership with AIGA’s Diversity & Inclusion task force, the objective during this next development phase is to grow and expand EMERGE to reach new, more diverse audiences, existing members, and prospective members. EMERGE will address each participating chapter and community’s needs in key areas of employment, growth, leadership, entrepreneurship, and life skills—as well as provide inclusive strategies that enable underrepresented groups and give all emerging designers the opportunity to flourish.
Q: What is the AIGA Innovate grant?
AIGA Innovate is a four-year long fund with up to $250,000 to be awarded each year. Established in 2015, AIGA Innovate supports critical, relevant, and ground-breaking projects at AIGA chapters across the country which demonstrate AIGA’s core values: leadership, design excellence, impact, and equity. Projects should upgrade the member experience and promote collaboration amongst members and their chapters, with potential rollout to the wider network.
It is an opportunity for chapters to positively impact local communities beyond design by developing and prototyping exciting projects that deepen relationships with business, enterprises, and social ecosystems while fostering the entrepreneurial spirit of their members. Ultimately, it’s an opportunity to further AIGA’s mission: to advance design as a professional craft, strategic advantage, and vital cultural force.
Learn more about AIGA Innovate, here.
EMERGE is a scalable initiative that offers a series of events, experiences, and content tailored to help the emerging designer hone their skills, explore their interests, and grow their career. It recognizes the diversity of designers and creates awareness about the importance of planning for accessibility and stretching for a wide-ranging audience. This targeted program is specifically intended for designers who are 0–5 years into their careers.
EMERGE provides us with the opportunity to design a better way to reach emerging designers, members and non-members, that are currently underserved or underrepresented within AIGA and the community, and to assist them in personal and professional growth, with a focus on leadership and social impact as well as give them a voice within AIGA.
Q: Why does investing in this initiative matter to AIGA and the industry?
While emerging designers represent a quarter of AIGA membership, this group also has high membership turnover. Following graduation, newer designers are focused on finding a job and often won’t think to continue the relationship with AIGA past their student involvement. For some prospective members, such as those making a career change, the AIGA name might not be familiar. Navigating the start to one’s career is a big enough challenge and the cost of membership may outweigh its perceived value. And of course there’s the notion that emerging designers simply don’t feel they have a place in a longstanding professional organization.
EMERGE is inviting and approachable. The initiative addresses AIGA membership value, inclusive practices, and chapter-led mentorship around the different aspects of the design discipline. If design is about inspiration and creativity from all angles, then as a leading design authority our efforts must always be the same. Designing inclusively creates a higher level of awareness and better end solutions for everyone. Chapters and AIGA as a whole will thrive on the exchanges of members who purposely help extend, support, mentor, and befriend designers from all seasons of career trajectory to expand beyond their traditional network. By partnering with the Diversity & Inclusion task force, EMERGE can facilitate an inclusive outreach dialog amongst all chapters, members, and prospective members that supports the well-being of our communities and encourages civic engagement.
Q: Why does it matter to the both of you on a personal level?
EMERGE creates an opportunity to encourage community impact and develop something authentic, scalable, and transferable—collectively for chapters by chapters. Through these experiences, fostering collective perspective together with remarkable chapter leaders and community members from across the country, all for the betterment of the design profession has been tremendous professional growth and learnings for all of us. We continue to see our fellow EMERGE team members stepping up and shining bright.
Q: What are the top 3 key learnings from working on EMERGE?
Tip #1: Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.
- Onboarding participants and facilitators by assigning pre-work exercises ensured a smooth process using MURAL, Zoom, and Slack.
Breaking participants into 4-6 person teams and assigning facilitators to each team allowed for all voices to be heard; teams got more comfortable with each other as time progressed.
- Sharing resources and reference materials for design thinking methodologies and diversity & inclusion topics provided a framework and point of reference for participants.
- Adding 25 user research/interviews, as a component of the session homework, delivered additional insights.
Tip #2: Be ready to pivot (when a component of Tip 1 fails).
Remote facilitation comes with a multitude of variables and challenges. Being able to prepare and plan for each potential variable is wise though not realistic. However, being able to pivot, when something does not goes as planned, in a seamless and professional manner can help lead to an undiscovered, potentially more successful outcome.
Tip #3: We not I.
AIGA wouldn’t be possible without the people. Throughout this initiative, we focused on consensus team management, decision making, and leadership strategies. Ensuring that everyone’s voice is heard, contributing to the formation and development of EMERGE 2.0 in a fully integrated fashion. This spanned our approach to the online design thinking workshop teams, to our development team approach, and active presentation of the EMERGE launch materials. Each member of the EMERGE team’s strengths in abilities and styles were uncovered and honed along the way. As a result, forming a #dreamteam… One that is truly remarkable to be apart of and to serve for the betterment of AIGA, emerging designers, and our design profession.
Q: What is your hope for EMERGE?
Our hope for EMERGE is to be able to collectively inspire, encourage, and empower those AIGA has not yet reached—emerging ready, equipped, and prepared to navigate the changing landscape of the design profession.
For those who emerged before us and those who will emerge into the future, thank you for continuing to pass the design torch forward and for shining a light on all designers. AIGA is an inspiring community for all–so let’s continue the momentum as we emerge better together.
Our goal is that EMERGE will play an impacting part in changing the landscape.
EMERGE 2.0 Video Designed by National EMERGE Branding Team Lead Frances Yllana