Don’t Get Comfortable on a Plateau

Here’s the deal I’m going back to college.

Back in 2014, I thought I would never want to go back to college. A simple assumption based on the mentality I was happy to be done with juggling work and classes. It took two years to come to this decision. During those two years, I attempted to learn more skills on my own and through online services. I lacked the motivation and understanding to follow along loosely created programs. While still desiring to improve my skill set I settled on the idea to get an associate degree in web design (AAS).

Being a graphic designer also means understanding your field and competition are forever evolving. If I can leave one thing with fellow and future designers it would be; don’t get comfortable on a plateau. No, seriously you should be on a constant drive to improve or learn.

Here is a story to explain

When I was still in college, I would work part-time in retail. During an in-depth interview, with an overpriced organizational store, I met a woman who was also interviewing for the same position. The woman began to ask me questions about myself and if I was in college. After explaining that I was getting my bachelors in graphic design; the woman frowned. She sighed heavily and told me that she used to be a graphic designer, but couldn’t find work.

I told that story to tell you this

After meeting someone who struggled to find work in the field, I began to panic. I questioned if going into graphic design was meant for me. I wondered if I was going to be able to find the right gig. There was an increasing fear of not knowing if I would sink or swim. I had to focus on becoming someone who could and will remain in this profession.

My intention isn’t to strike fear into readers or followers. Be aware of what you need to do to stay successful. I am an in-house graphic designer, but this goes for freelancers as well. Figure out the latest design trends and skills that have made it in the market. If you have an interest in working in-house compare and contrast different job descriptions. Reflect on your skill set and point out areas to improve. Revisit old portfolios, and see what could have made projects better.

Don’t have a portfolio yet? Or maybe you’re stuck in a creative rut? Create a passion project. A simple way to start a passion project is to think of current interests or hobbies you have now then combine them. I started my passion project because it combines my hobby of calligraphy with my desire to learn other languages. A passion project doesn’t exist to stress you out. It is a great way to get creative while practicing skills. If you have learned something new try incorporating that into your passion project. Show off what you have learned!

I am equally excited and nervous to earn another degree. Getting another degree is not about having an additional line on my resume. Earning this AAS will prepare me for a more stable future in my career. Learning web development is adding skills I will confidently carry with me. I refuse to settle for comfort. My goal is to challenge myself to be a better designer in web and print. I encourage you to ask yourself “Am I getting too comfortable?” “Am I settling?” “What are my career goals?”

Remember, don’t get comfortable.

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