Always Room to Grow Graffiti

It’s OK to change your career path

I’m writing this for whoever has been contemplating making a career change. I encourage you to take that first step—and then go all in. 

Last Summer, I officially transitioned from an Account Strategist to a Designer at Media Cause. Just saying that now…that “I am a Designer” feels surreal to me. For a while, I convinced myself that it was too late to make that big of a change. I let things like past internships, first jobs, and college majors strictly define my future plans. When I finally decided to just go for it I found a new sense of purpose and learned to embrace my nonlinear career journey. 

The First Steps

I’ve always had an interest in design and art, but I never thought that it could become part of my career. It wasn’t until I started working with designers that I realized it was something I really wanted to explore. I loved being a part of the process of how they created their projects from start to finish. It was like magic seeing a sketch turn into a polished logo or a brief into a beautifully branded campaign. That way of thinking and that kind of work connected with me. I started seeking out more ways I could get closer to design in my personal life, which led me to creating designs for my family and friends. Those projects felt small then, but it was the start of something great.

It took me some time to work up the courage to act on this interest professionally. This was admittedly the hardest part of the career change for me. It can feel intimidating to have this type of conversation, especially with your manager. Thankfully, when I finally discussed the possibility with Katey Parker (VP, Marketing Services) and Amy Small (SVP, Creative + Branding) they both welcomed the idea with unconditional support. Without their initial positive response I don’t know where I’d be.

Going All In

I worked with Katey, Amy, and Rob Shaw (Art Director) to come up with design goals that I could work towards in order to build a strong foundation. My goals evolved throughout the year+, but they all revolved around learning, and gaining experience. I took several different types of project based design courses over the span of a year:  DesignLab, Udemy, Skillshare, General Assembly, and School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University (SMFA). From all of these resources I was able to gain an understanding of design theory and how to use design software. Like all new designers, I still have a lot to learn and I’m excited about continuing my education at the SMFA where I’m currently enrolled in the Dual Certificate in Graphic Design and Illustration program.

Experience was the other major component that I needed to gain in order to make the career change. I was able to obtain this both in and outside of work. Outside of work I executed on project prompts that I collected from my friends, found online, or was assigned in class. Even working on “practice prompts” was valuable training because it pushed me to use design thinking and the software. 

At work I started by seeking out opportunities where I could offer my design support. This turned into taking on design work from our internal marketing department. I have both Cody Damon (Co-Founder) and Sarah Ackerman (Director of Copy + Content) to thank for graciously offering me my first projects.

Gradually, I started to take on client work and my role turned into a dual position as both a Strategist/Designer, which I held for a few months. The beauty of this was that I realized that most of the skills that I accumulated over my 4 years+ on the account side were transferable to design.  

A lot of early mornings, late nights, and weekends were spent learning and doing, but by the end of Summer 2020 I officially became a full time Designer. 

The process of a career change taught me some very important lessons. I learned to be flexible with my life plans and open to change. As you have new life experiences you may become inspired by a career that you’d never thought of pursuing before—like I did. Most importantly it made me appreciate all the encouragement that I received from my family, friends, and Media Cause. I’m grateful for the opportunity that was given to me to make my new career dreams come true. I especially appreciate the support from my managers Katey Parker and Amy Small (she/her), Cody Damon, Eric Facas, Jillian Ingram, and the entire Creative Department that welcomed me with open arms, advice, and feedback. (Robert Shaw Ansley Luce Ida Persson (she/her) Ryan Fuquea Sarah Ackerman (she/her)

For those of you contemplating taking steps towards making a career change, do it. Your journey will not be the same as mine because we’re all on our own nonlinear paths as career changers, but I assure you that with the right work ethic, attitude, and support it can be done.