When Brandon Ward first moved to Dallas, he benefited attending BigD by meeting new contacts and making a name for himself on the local design scene.
Four months after moving to Dallas for a new UX role in 2013, the agency laid off half of their design and development teams due to poor cashflow. It was Friday October 10th. I remember that because it was my son’s 3rd birthday, and as I was driving home to tell my wife I’d been laid off I was rear-ended, and ended up late for his birthday party.
While waiting for the police to do their thing, I posted the following to Facebook:
Stop me if you’ve heard this one…guy uproots life and family to move 2000 miles for great job, said jobs lasts 4 months then they lay him off because they’re changing corporate direction and out of money, then traffic is super bad on the way home, and he gets rear-ended, so he’s late for his son’s birthday party on his birthday, his neck hurts, then he tries to finally get his car registered, only to find his window tinting is illegal in the state and his plates expire next month. And, we just found out we’re expecting our 4th child yesterday.
So – I think I’m starting a new career writing slapstick, underdog comedies for Ben Stiller.
While I made my melancholy way back home, my friend Travis Isaacs, who’d seen my post, called to check on me. He told me to talk to David Belcher at Improving (I’d interviewed with Improving a year before moving to Dallas). I fired off an email to David that night.
Wednesday, David, Kevin Baker, and Vaughn Jackson met me for lunch. Still new to the area, we chatted about UX in Dallas, networking opportunities, meetups, and events. This was all new to me. David recommended I attend Big Design which kicked off the next day. I said I’d look into it.
I jumped on the BigD website, not really planning on attending. Really, who loses income then drops a thousand dollars on a conference? Then I found out how inexpensive BigD is. It blew my mind. No-brainer, especially being unemployed. I bought my ticket and went. That was the best career decision I’ve ever made. Full stop.
I remember meeting a great group of folks at lunch. After hearing my lament, they sent out tweets and texts informing their network “There’s this Brandon dude looking for work.” I started running into recruiters and hiring managers at random exclaiming “Oh you’re Brandon! I’ve been meaning to find and chat with you.” I came away from BigD with multiple interviews, and ended up getting competing offers by the end of the following week. I accepted a position for more than I’d been making the previous week, took a week for vacation and started the next leg of my career. It was nothing short of miraculous.
At BigD ’13 I met future mentors, friends, co-workers, event coordinators and more. I learned key principles, techniques, tools, and methods to hone my craft. I discovered a thriving community of fellowship, expertise, and kindness. Every conference has been a better experience than the year before. If you’re in tech and live in DFW you MUST come to BigD. If you don’t live here, you’d do well to come all the same. You won’t regret it.
Brandon Ward is the Directory of User Experience at Precocity. He leads the UX efforts both internally and as a consultant. He works closely with the executive team to define Precocity’s UX practice, methods, tools, ethos, and culture.