When I was a kid, I never had a calling to be a doctor, a teacher or anyone else for that matter. That gave me a great deal of stress as a high school teenager. Almost everyone I knew was planning for an exciting career path, and there I was indifferent and stresses because of it.
My dad taught me basic coding as a kid. As with all of my hobbies, it wasn’t long-lasting. However, years later MySpace reignited my interest in coding again as a teenager. So, when the time came to choose a career, I figured I might as well pursue the whole web design thing since I liked it enough and it seemed to pay good enough too. As you can see, I wasn’t very enthusiastic. I basically chose my career on a whim because I had to.
The thing is, I wasn’t unmotivated. Actually, I’ve always been quite driven if I set my heart on something. My problem was that I was extremely selective in how I spent my time. If I didn’t like something, I stopped doing it. For instance, I hated the idea of being in college for 4 years. I saw it as a waste of time because it was all talk and no action. So, I finished the 4-year degree in 2 just so I could start working already. I was that determined because at that point I had so much interest in the field of design, technology and startups I just wanted to get my hands dirty. I couldn’t wait!
Diving to the deep end
Growing up, I knew that whatever I chose for my career – web design or otherwise – as long as I cared about it, I’d thrive. And that’s precisely what happened.
I got so engulfed in learning that I took it upon myself to explore different things from learning back-end coding, reading business and psychology books to blogging, and writing my own books. I didn’t just want to learn about making or designing a proper website; that wasn’t the whole picture to me. I wanted to understand how all this fit into business operations such as sales and not just marketing. I wanted to understand these interactions from the perspective of the consumer aka clients, visitors or customers and how the websites or apps fit into their lives as well.
I was soaking up everything I could get my hands on. Eventually, my drive paid off because I was able to work on the things that I wanted to, on teams and projects that I found challenging and exciting. Looking back, I am so grateful that I found a path that clicked so well for me. Of course, there were extremely stressful moments and plenty of challenges along the way, but I was so driven I didn’t let them slow me down or get in my way.
Seeing a pattern
It wasn’t until I was speaking with my business coach a few months ago that I realized a pattern. We were talking about where I see taking my business in the coming months and years and asked me some questions that had me evaluating my past work experiences.
That’s when I realized a big pattern in my career. It revolved heavily around education.
It started in college
In college, I was a student tutor for my major. Additionally, in college, I started blogging for online design publications such as Designmodo, Web Designer Depot and the like. Although not all the posts were educations per se, they forced me to think about what I’m saying and how I think about design; I didn’t want to make a fool of myself by saying something stupid or wrong. Instead, I aimed to focus on helping the readers understand difficult or new concepts in the easiest way possible. What started as a simple way to get extra cash on the side in college turned me into an educator, a teacher, and even a mentor.
And continued in the job market
My first “real” job out of school was at Poll Everywhere. They’re a software company that helps events, conferences, and schools run live polls with audiences. That is less directly related to education but the theme still slightly continues as schools – especially colleges and universities – were a large portion of their customers. Often my role at the company revolved around helping our customers use the app seamlessly.
Afterward, I wrote a book focused on educating designer on best practices for mobile apps.
Then I joined another startup, Thinkful, which actually was an online school for programmers and developers. I joined as their only designer and later worked for them as a design mentor for their online courses. Once again, my role for Thinkful was making sure that the students were able to successfully use the online school’s site to complete their program.
On top of that, last year I worked with another education startup which focused on teaching mortgage broker on improving their business operations to make more income.
In retrospect, I should have suspected something long ago. But, so it goes!
The education theme continues on
This year I’ve been approached by multiple leads in areas still somehow related to education. The thing is, I’m not advertising myself as such mostly because education is a broad term. Yet, I’ve been in the talks with an author wanting to teach kids about emotional intelligence, for example. One of my current clients right now is a market researcher launching courses on business operations for struggling freelancers as well.
When I think about the fact that my career revolves so heavily around teaching and education it makes me smile because I never thought I would end up here. I never thought I’d be helping others in such deep ways than simply getting the job done but truly educating people and helping them. I feel proud of myself and that I’ve been able to do this for others with my skills.
A web designer’s point of view
I didn’t set out to have such a fulfilling career; yet, here I am. I didn’t set out to care so much about the effect something so overlooked as a landing page could have on people who are trying to use it beyond conversions. Nor, how large an impact these people, those consumers, can have on businesses when the said landing page pleases them.
With every project and every client that comes my way I put so much effort and care into making sure that they’re getting much more than a website. I want my clients to feel that they are not just hiring a web designer but someone who is genuinely investing in improving their online businesses. I try my best to explain my thinking process as I work so my clients understand why I make certain decisions or suggestions.
I care about these things on a higher level as a web designer because, on a personal level, over the years I’ve grown more appreciative of how seemingly irrelevant or trivial things can improve one’s experiences. So, because I am in a position of influencing these experiences for consumers, I will be dammed if I don’t do my best to give them a great one.
In the future
I’m not sure what the future holds for me. Having thought about my career heavily over the last few months with my business coach and even now in this article, I must say that I’m quite content where I am now. I’m happy to be running my own web design business. I’m happy to look back on all the opportunities I’ve taken and challenges I undertook that led me to be here almost a decade later and I do not regret making that decision as an unbothered teenager.
I wanted to designate the year 2019 to my own business growth, improving my business operations aka the sales process, invest in relationship building and also learning more deeply about my field and my work so that I can continue to keep doing this killer job.
My journey to becoming a web designer was a random one. I made a single decision as a teenager that I didn’t care too deeply about at the moment. Yet, I’m so grateful and proud of my journey as a web designer thus far. And I must say, I made a fantastic choice. I absolutely love my work and the opportunities it brought me. I can only imagine the opportunities, projects, and even challenges that this career as a web designer will bring in the future.