Falling into design.
While working in nonprofits, it is pretty common to inadvertently take on tasks that need to get done and learn how to do them on the fly. When I was hired at Wallin Education Partners, I worked in program development and management but was frustrated by the lack of branding and quality promotions across the organization. I knew I needed better communications to reach my programming goals so I took it upon myself to develop a communications plan, editorial calendar, social media policy and strategy, and started working on photography and graphics. Within a few months, I started a monthly newsletter, planned and wrote content for our platforms, took on the role as webmaster, and gained management of all social media accounts. I may not have been a designer or marketing professional, but I knew the importance of quality standardized branding and did everything in my power to reign in and define Wallin's brand.
Fast forward a few months and I found myself downloading Adobe, teaching myself Illustrator and InDesign, and convincing my boss to let me take continuing education courses at Minneapolis Community & Technical College (MCTC) and the Minneapolis College of Art & Design (MCAD). Soon I was fumbling my way through brochures and churning out social media posts, all while creating brand standards across all media and giving our audience something to engage with.
Over time, I realized my favorite part of my job was not even my job to begin with—creating and designing, storytelling, and marketing. By the end of my time at Wallin, I had created enough collateral to apply to MCAD's Post-Baccalaureate Certificate program and was ready to make a serious career change, embracing uncertainty and returning to my roots in the arts. The rest is history.
Looking back, what I designed in 2013 and 2014 can look a little rough, but I can't help but be proud. These pieces reflect major personal and professional developments, growth, and a lot of hard work. There is something so empowering about teaching yourself a new skill, as well as letting yourself fall into and not force important life changes.