Tales of a [Former] Graphic Designer Turned Full-Time Engineering Student

My blog is having a little bit of an identity crisis. How does one write a blog about being a graphic designer who is going back to school for an engineering degree if one is no longer a graphic designer?

Today is my last day at work. I’m cleaning off my computer, packing boxes, taking down pictures and sending out emails to thank people I’ve enjoyed working with. This afternoon I will hand over my staff ID card and scrape the staff parking pass off my windshield. I will no longer be able to park right outside my classes or check out library books for six months. As much as I’ve anticipated this day and worked hard to coordinate all the details to make it possible, being a full-time university employee while also attending school for the past four years has really become my identity. And it’s going to be really strange walking away from it.

A little cross-promotion today on the blog. Check out my other penguin drawings at my white board penguin tumblr!

A little cross-promotion today on the blog. Check out my other penguin drawings at my white board penguin tumblr!

Starting tomorrow I’ll just be a 32-year-old chick without a job waiting for her internship to start. Which is pretty awesome. And a little scary. While I may have wanted to change careers, up to this point, I could still fall back on my identity as a graphic designer. I knew how to do that job, I was good at it, I was confident in my ability to run design software and solve design problems. It’s a good feeling, to have that backlog of knowledge, to be able to answer most questions people can throw at you. To know the little tricks that newer designers might not know.

I remember what it was like starting out as a designer. I remember all the things I did wrong. And all the things I didn’t necessarily do wrong, but made so much more difficult than they needed to be because I didn’t know all the little tricks for how to make seemingly difficult tasks simple. I’ve been through all that so I know how it feels to be battling to learn your job, and I know how satisfying it is to finally get that confidence that comes when you actually know what what you’re doing. And it’s both exciting and terrifying to be starting that process all over again.

Will the learning curve for becoming an engineer be steeper than it was for graphic design? Probably. Will I ever have it all figured out? I’m guessing I won’t. I’ve asked engineers at what point after graduating and starting their jobs that they actually started feeling like they knew “how to be an engineer.” Most of them have said they still don’t feel that way. But I picked engineering because I wanted a career that would allow me to always be learning new things and solving new problems. Some part of “knowing what you’re doing” gets boring after a while. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

So for the next four months, this blog will be more appropriately titled, “tales of an energy generation intern who has absolutely no idea what she’s doing.” There I will be, in my polo shirt, jeans, steel-toed shoes and hard hat, feeling absolutely clueless but enthusiastic. I hope I’ll have some fun stories for you.

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3 thoughts on “Tales of a [Former] Graphic Designer Turned Full-Time Engineering Student

  1. I didn’t realize that today would be your last day, tho the last day of May is obviously appropriate. I was a bit teary-eyed thinking about how significant a milestone this is for you. You deserve a lot of credit for all that you’ve tackled so far, and for the challenges you are taking on by redirecting your life in this way. I’m sure that it will turn out well for you, and I’m anxious to hear your impressions of working in such a different environment, with such different kinds of problems to solve, this summer.

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