College is supposed to be the time of your life to learn, to foster, to grow. Sure I learned some things in college – only drink clear alcohol with plenty of water to never wake up with a hangover, I learned about self appreciation and motivation, I learned about love and heartache. What I didn’t learn was anything about having a career you love and to acquire the skills you need both for a job and as a functioning adult.I went to a small liberal arts, catholic school rather than attending art school. I think by choosing a school focused on a broad approach to education rather than developing a skill set was the reason why I learned nothing in college. We did yoga in a World Religions class, I had adjunct professors who were more concerned (and rightly so) about their careers outside the classroom than our understanding of economics, and I had teachers talk about sports as I saw my tuition dollars fly out of my family’s wallet.
What was supposed to be the best years of my life, were the best years of my life. But did I learn anything? I didn’t learn about accounting best practices for my horrible year in hedge and mutual funds. I didn’t learn about how to conduct yourself in meetings, interviews, or just as a contributing member in society. I didn’t know how to stand up for myself, pursue what I wanted and to get the skills I needed for that career.
What I also learned was that my degree was just a piece of paper that said my family had enough money. What I learned was that you need to be proactive about what skills you need to learn. And what I learned was that I learned nothing in college.
What I am doing to change that.
Finding out what I really want.
In college I thought a career in finance would guarantee a steady paycheck, a clear career path and the ability to pursue my creative endeavors on the side. None of that happened. What really happened was that I worked an insane amount of hours doing accounting for mutual funds and then hedge funds. My paycheck was spent mainly on meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner since I had absolutely no time between my hour commute (each way) and 10-12 hour days. And those side endeavors; nonexistent. I quit my job, realizing everything I wanted was not going to happen if I stayed where I was.
I then took time to figure out what I liked and didn’t like. I love love love my art. I love the feeling of being able to transform someone’s idea into a tangible image or object, I love being able to provide someone something that I made. I love blogging and the web. I love how dynamic it is, how there’s constantly new information, images, layouts… and more! I researched jobs that could encompass everything I loved and the ability to work in high grow field. Graphic design came up first since I have a background in art, then web development from my interest in blogging/coding. Finally after some research hours were well put in UX design appeared across my dirty laptop screen. It was perfect and was a between my love of art and the web.
Making a game plan.
Once I gathered the up what UX design entails and decided it was a good fit, I then made a game plan. I researched UX bootcamps, self taught success stories, and schools. I decided that I personally do much better in an academic setting where I can get guidance and support while building a portfolio for employers. I am currently gathering all the required materials needed to apply for schools in UX design (both nationally and internationally). From there living arrangements, loans, and life should fall into place relatively quickly.
Picking up skills that I know will increase value and paychecks.
Do you have something you always wanted to learn? Why not pick up a skill and potentially increase your paycheck? For my field and in blogging, learning code can make a huge difference in what kind of opportunities will pop up on your email. I am also looking into getting Google IQ certified for analysis so that I can track my website and others that I will make in the future. Research your career field and skills that can make you valuable.
Always being proactive.
Even if you think you know, you probably don’t. I always ask questions to friends, family, and even ask them to ask someone they know can help. Research is powerful, and asking others in your field or social circle will make you invincible. So go head, ask if they know someone who needs an assistant, if they know if a program is good or crap, if they have any advice. If I didn’t ask questions (even stupid ones) I would be a lot further behind than I am now.
Even though I learned nothing in college, I learned after how to pursue the career I wanted after some trial and error. I learned to be proactive and to always be forever proactive about what I want and how to get there.