One thing I love to do is learn new things. I didn’t exactly like going to school growing up, but I loved to study and I did that for years when I decided that I would pursue a career in computers. I took continuing education classes after work at the local grade schools in Photoshop, CorelDraw, MS-Word, Pagemaker, and Freehand. Some of these programs have come under the Adobe name while others I’m not sure are still around. However, they were the catalysts that got my start in graphic design.
I don’t have a degree or even formal training in art and design, all of what I know I learned on the job. I used to think that not having a degree would hinder me but in some ways it’s helped me. I gained years of experience providing customer service, working on deadlines, managing projects, shipping and handling, follow-up, and writing reports. The design part I picked up along the way and practiced at night. I wouldn’t trade that knowledge for a piece of paper at all. There are some things you can’t learn in a textbook. Not to say anything is wrong with getting a degree, I applaud anyone who is disciplined enough to stick with it and graduate. I’m just saying that we all come from different avenues to get where we are. Experience is very important along with knowledge.
My opportunities led me to freelance which, in my mind, I thought I would never be able to do. However, technology changes all the time and I know I can never know it all. For example, when I transitioned into web design, there was no WordPress CMS. Every page had to be manually hard coded. WordPress actually was a God-send, now you have a system of drag and drop and hard coding wasn’t always necessary. Adding and editing pages, changing permalinks are global changes so you don’t have to open up a dozen or more pages to make the same revisions. WP saves me a LOT of time.
Sometimes you don’t get enough “meat” in webinars.
Right now on my day job, I handle all the website work, but in addition, I’m in charge of marketing online and social. I also had to learn mobile technology. With my busy schedule, it’s hard for me to commit several hours a day to study. So, I do a lot of reading articles, like Website Magazine, plus I get their free subscriptions in the mail every month. It’s always jam packed with IT information and I also like the Social Media Examiner (they have the cutest website design), their site is full of tips, info, and articles on social. I’ve learned a lot since following them. One other method I use, since my time is short, is attending webinars. But, sometimes you don’t get enough “meat” since they’re usually no more than 1 hour. I wanted more, but I didn’t want to go to a traditional school and I want to learn at my own pace.
Well…guess what? Yesterday, I ran into a nice lady at the store that I’m getting to know and she’s a web developer. She told me about a site called Coursera.org where you can take classes for free or pay to get certified. I had never heard of them. They offer a wide variety of subjects on their site. Examples are: game design, typography, and even creative writing. Some of the courses are 4 weeks and the instructors are extremely accredited. Each course is outlined so you know what you’ll be learning each week. I signed up to take a graphic design history course learning how images looked from the 1800s till today. I love past history so I thought this would be fun to take a look back and how marketing looked then and why it did.
Learning makes our brains stay active and it keeps me aiming for the stars. To be a professional in any field requires lots of studying and experience but it’s a great feeling to understand better what we love. I like keeping my brain working!