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Finally, an update… October 3, 2006

Posted by somelikeitscott in Blogroll, Expat, Graphic Design, Hanoi, Uncategorized, Vietnam, Work, Working in Vietnam.

So, my update record of late has been less than stellar. It’s harder to find that groove and stay there than apparently I thought it would be. That’s OK. I know you all forgive me.

Things have been busy to say the least, but busy is good. I hate to say it, but keeping busy is the best way to ward off unhappiness. That’s one of those lessons I’ve never been able to absorb from the spoken wisdom of others. I’ve had to learn that from personal experience.

So, what has kept me busy?

Work is the big one. It’s a good thing I enjoy my job because I sure spend a lot of time there. Right now, I am employed as the graphic designer by a Hanoi based producer/exporter of designer handbags. Despite the fact that Vietnam is not remotely known for high fashion, my employer has built an impressive global brand with growing popularity in the US, Europe and Asia.

This means, for me, requests at all times of the day from countless people in sundry different time-zones for different materials. There is an ebb and flow to it, and our busiest times occur when the new collections go out. There are two main collections in a given year – Spring / Summer and Autumn / Winter – as well as a couple smaller holiday themed sets.

In addition to putting together the catalogs for each new collection, it is my responsibility to design and layout all the advertisements, signs, cards, posters and other promotional materials. Right now, we’re in the midst of a re-branding, which requires an awful lot of redesigning and conceptualization work. It’s challenging, but I’m working with some talented and creative people who give me both direction and a reasonable amount of leeway to do my job. It can be demanding, but it’s a good situation. Besides, if something’s not challenging, then it’s probably not worth doing. That’s more or less why I left my last job. I just felt like there wasn’t anywhere else for me to grow there.

My favourite thing about my current job is how open those who govern the brand are to my ideas. They know I’m not REALLY a graphic designer, and they know I don’t have a tonne of professional experience as such, but they seek out my input and have been very receptive to some of the ideas I’ve put forth since I started. It’s nice to feel like your work is valued. I also really enjoy being in a creative environment.

I don’t know exactly how much time I’ll spend with this company. Basically, I feel like I’ll stay until I have nothing new to contribute or learn and then I’ll move on. In the meantime, I’m picking up a lot that’s going to help me in my own endeavours.

The pace of change is so rapid in Vietnam that the opportunities here are of a different variety than in the West. People are willing to give you chances that would surprise many in more developed nations. Living here definitely begs patience, but there’s just so much upside.

For anyone young (at heart), eager and open-minded looking to spend some time in a rapidly burgeoning region, South East Asia deserves a long hard look. Socially, professionally, there’s a lot to draw one in. You may wind up teaching English, which is the fall back option for most, but even that can be unexpectedly rewarding. I didn’t love my stint teaching, but I got a lot out of parts of it. Anyway, it’s got nothing to do with the job and everything to do with my personality. More on that another time.

That’s all for now. More details of my job will emerge as the days and weeks pass. Other subjects too.

Until next time…