It surprised none of us when San Smith was named our most recent Big Nerd of the Month. As Office Manager, San makes all of our lives easier, and in March, she was a driving force behind our recent move to our new Intergalactic Headquarters.
We sat down with her to find out more about this wonder who wrangles all the Nerds.
Big Nerd Ranch: Let’s talk about the big one: the office move. Your herculean efforts are one of the reasons you were nominated Big Nerd of the Month; we all know it took a lot of work to get us into this new space. (It’s amazing, by the way!) What was the hardest part of that process?
San Smith: The hardest part was working with a number of people to make sure we all were on the same page and that everything was timed properly. We were moving from two offices into one that was still having some renovations done, and that involved a lot of coordination. It was a headache at times, but in the end I found it really fulfilling because you could see constant progress.
The best part of the process was ordering furniture and coming up with ideas for new practices to make the office work better. I love improving things and getting the office new furniture or toys to enjoy!
BNR: Speaking of toys, we’re looking forward to seeing what you’ll add to the Big Nerd trophy. What will be your addition?
San: I’m adding a tiny figure of Princess Bubblegum from Adventure Time. I picked her because I’ve had pink hair off and on for the past 10 years and we have similar personalities. Plus, she’s very pink, which is my weakness.
BNR: Some Nerds get around the office via Razor scooter or skateboard. What’s your intra-office vehicle of choice?
San: That would be my roller skates. I have a purple and black pair stashed under my desk and I like to break them out in the evenings. The concrete floor is perfect for skating!
BNR: You handle a lot requests for new equipment or groceries. What has been the strangest thing requested by a Nerd?
San: I’ve been asked to order a life-sized version of Captain Kirk and then make a cardboard “Ship it” squirrel to sit on his shoulder. (Ed. note: Capt. Kirk now lives at IGHQ and we are still shipping it.)
I’ve also received some interesting grocery requests. The strangest requests were for chewing tobacco (they were trolling me!) and a shrimp ring. I actually bought the shrimp ring, and the person who requested it was surprised, but stoked.
BNR: Aside from ordering shrimp rings, what’s a part of your job that would surprise us?
San: My job can be very physical: lifting boxes, moving tables, unpacking things, etc. Due to all of that, I’ve gotten a lot stronger. I went from being a weak little art nerd to being a buff art nerd. Ok, maybe not “buff,” but I can lift a lot more stuff now.
BNR: Wait, “art nerd”? What was your first job?
San: My first job waaaay back in the day was at Pizza Hut running the register, which was pretty short lived and ridiculous. I ate a lot of free pizza there—a teenager’s dream come true! My first real job out of college was as an illustrator and graphic designer for an insurance agency’s marketing department. There wasn’t as much free pizza at that job, but it was still pretty good.
BNR: How did you go from cashier to illustrator?
San: I’ve been drawing since I was able to hold a pencil. I was just constantly doodling and teaching my friends how to draw too. Before I knew it, I was taking on projects. I ended up illustrating a bag design for a local grocery store and making my own children’s book for a contest in elementary school. Around that time, I started learning the basics of animation as well, and then I got into digital illustration in middle school. It wasn’t until high school that I started calling myself an illustrator, though—up until then, it was just about having fun. After high school, I decided to go to art school for college, and the rest is history. I still draw on the side and I love that I can now do it for myself again, rather than have it as a full-time job.
BNR: You’re an avid traveler, and recently went to Japan. What do you think visiting other countries has to teach us?
San: Oh man, I love traveling and find it very inspiring. I really think you can learn a lot by observing how others live their day-to-day lives outside of the touristy areas. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in your bubble at home and think the rest of the world does things or thinks the way you do. Traveling forces you out of that bubble and makes you see new ways of thinking and doing. When I travel, I always try to eat things and visit places that residents would experience in a regular day, and in that way I’m more exposed to how people live their lives.
Japan was an interesting place to visit because space is utilized so well there, and many things are well designed. It gave me a lot of ideas about how I could improve my own life through having less, and focusing on more on community. I also enjoyed seeing how so many things were well thought out when it came to presentation. From food to buildings, shopping or even just social interactions, there was a lot of care put into making sure things were presented well. Every experience there seemed very special due to the effort everyone put into it. I hope to visit there again someday.
BNR: Nerds are always learning about new things! Thanks, San, and congratulations again.
And if you think you’ve got what it takes to become a Nerd, take a look at our open positions and apply. In addition to developers and instructors, we’re also hiring a UX/UI designer and a marketing manager.