As a studio art major who played women’s lacrosse, I geared up for my college graduation with sheer panic. I’d consistently hear “Artists starve” and “No one cares about women’s sports; especially one no one’s ever heard of”. The idea that I wasted 4.5 years on two “useless” passions weighed on me. What was I supposed to do after the diploma?
Luckily, I was offered a wonderful position at my high school. Within a few years, I had found my home in the athletic department. I worked for people I loved and respected. I had a job that I was actually kind of good at. Plus, I was coaching! Unfortunately, I had the unique, and, what felt like, bratty feeling of not being totally satisfied. With an administrative position, creativity isn’t at the forefront of the job description. To feed into my passions, I started redesigning all of the athletic publications. My boss continued to give me as many opportunities as possible to fit creativity into my work while still being able to coach. I know; I was really lucky.
It wasn’t that I hated my job. It wasn’t that I was not making enough money. Something was just missing. I felt like I had more to give and I needed a place with greater creative growth opportunity. With this in mind, I finally took a leap of faith, despite my immense fear of leaving comfort behind and my parents’ hesitation. I took an internship at initiate-it for the summer with no idea of what would happen after August. The hardest part was telling my coworkers that I was leaving. I felt like I was going through the saddest breakup ever.
It took me years to realize that I needed art in my life. I always identified as an athlete, and I still do, but my little drawing hobby meant more to me than I realized. After the internship, initiate-it hired me as a full-time Digital Designer. And, every day, I go to work excited about a new challenge.
So, here are a few tips if you think you really need to shake things up professionally like I did.
Take your time to really think about it. Switching careers is risky.
It took me almost 2 years to totally accept that I needed to leave a comfortable job behind in order for me to be professionally satisfied.
Talk to people. A lot.
I’m horrible at talking to people I don’t know. It’s panic-inducing. But it was a fear I had to overcome if I wanted to get anywhere in my career. If I hadn’t grabbed beers with my now boss, Andrew Smith, I wouldn’t have been exposed to initiate-it or been given the chance to intern here.
Be ok with starting over.
You’re probably going to take a pay cut. Be ok with that. You have to decide what is more important, your self-worth or the worth of what’s in your wallet.
Don’t burn bridges.
I was terrified to leave my previous job, they had been so wonderful to me. But people inherently want the best for you. Try to understand that while they are probably disappointed you’re leaving, they understand and are happy for you. If you weren’t in the same situation as me and you actually hate your job, don’t leave on a bad note. Keep your references happy, you may need them one day.
Even if it takes a few tries to find the right fit, the ability to take a risk should be celebrated. Always.
It’s hard to graduate college and not be in the 5% who are following dreams they’ve had their entire lives. So take lots of paths and be willing to switch. You’ll figure it out. I’m so thankful I finally did.
Posted by Libby Rosebro, Digital Designer at initiate-it, a digital-first, full-service agency located in Richmond, VA.