I have been interested in design for years. I’ve done web design as a semi-professional hobby (mostly for fun but I occasionally got a paycheck) for the past 12 years. It all started when I was 14, but as I began to think about college and my future I didn’t think I could make a career out of this hobby. I undersold myself, saying I wasn’t “creative” enough and web designers seemed to be a dime-a-dozen (still are), so I wondered if I could ever make a decent salary. Instead I pursued hard science geekery, obtaining first a BA in Chemistry and then an MS. It was in graduate school as I pursued my PhD in chemistry that I realized how unhappy I was doing research, and the fact that I was most enthusiastic about designing my research group’s website showed me what I should really be doing.
Now I work as a software tester (quality assurance) at a company that creates a suite of electronic health record applications. I still find myself drawn to projects where I get to do more design. I’ve done the HTML & CSS for several company intranet sites, I the slide deck for internal training classes as well as the company’s quality assurance division meeting (attended by nearly 600 of my coworkers). And I’ve prepared a variety of printed handouts to go along with the internal courses I developed and teach. All of my work has been well-received (praised even) and bolsters my confidence in striking out in search of a design career. I realize that even though I have years of informal experience, most employers are looking for an expert, not a hobbyist.
I’ve started this blog as a way to chronicle my journey to improve my design and development skills, act as a respository of the knowledge I gain, and be a free resource to anyone interested in learning along with me. It will also hopefully become a digital portfolio to assist me in finding challenging and rewarding job opportunities.
Are any of you a self-taught designer? What was your favorite resource while learning your craft?