Do This Instead.

A few days ago, I gave a writing workshop for students who were interning all over St. Louis and, after we wrapped up, I had the chance to get to know some of them.

After commenting on the artistic doodling skill of one young woman in particular, I asked if she was a .

“Nope. I’m actually minoring in design.”

I was baffled.

To be honest, I didn’t enough know someone could minor in design.

She went on to tell me she was majoring in Biology and decided to minor in design so she could eventually go on to be a user experience designer in the healthcare field.

As a junior in college, my head was so far up my ass, I couldn’t even manage to look a few months ahead, let alone a few years.

Unfortunately for me, I tend to learn things the hard way.

Despite the title of this post, I majored in design.

It was 2007 and I was an “undeclared” freshman sitting in my advisor’s office.

Like many lost teens around this time, I was trying to figure out which major to choose.

It my case, it was between design or painting.

Since my advisor was a pretty straight shooter, he asked me three questions:

1. “Do you want creative freedom?”

“Hmm…I mean, that’d be nice, but isn’t that a little unrealistic?”

2. “Do you like people?”

“I freaking love people! I love talking to them, working with them, eating with them.”

3. “Do you want to make money?”

“Well…it’s never been a big motivator for me, but if I do have kids, I want to be able to put food on the table.”

“Design it is!”

And there you have it. Those three words changed my life forever.

When graduation rolled around, I found myself dissatisfied with all of the conventional options after college:

  • Unpaid internship
  • Full-time job at an agency
  • Graduate school

Instead, I decided to take a stab at full-time freelancing.

I’m seven years in and I (somehow) only have one regret:

I shouldn’t have majored in design.

Let me explain.

If you ask me, design is one of the most important fields out there.

From designing more effective medical tools to creating a more diverse and inclusive community, it plays a part in just about everything we do.

It’s important, but it doesn’t deserve it’s own major.

Design should act as a plug-in for other disciplines and industries.

In fact, design isn’t a field of study — it’s a way in which to study and address problems in other fields.

Studying design is like studying the scientific process — no one actually studies it, it’s a process that’s used to study the world around us.

This is why design pairs well with other industries, acting as an underlying, supportive layer to enhance the study of other topics.

If I could go back knowing what I know now and create the perfect college education (for me), it would look like this:

  • Major in Computer Science or Business
  • Minor in Communication Design
  • Minor in Creative Writing

As you can see, the first category is a field of study that requires a deep dive into one specific topic.

The last two categories are methods of communication which enhance any area of expertise.

This isn’t to say that design or writing is easy. On the contrary.

Any method of communication takes time, energy, and plenty of practice to master.

The thing is, you don’t need a degree to practice them. All you need is a little guidance and patience

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