There I was, sitting on a panel with three other creatives in front of a lecture hall filled with half-interested juniors and seniors, answering questions about freelancing as an actual career while their eyes actively glazed over.
How did I get here?
Early on in my freelance design career, I joined the St. Louis chapter of the AIGA board (a professional design organization) as the Young Professional Development co-chair.¹
Since I was the only member who was crazy enough to freelance full-time, I was asked to speak on a panel about design jobs.
By this point, you might be thinking:
“Someone actually hired you to sit on a panel and give advice to students?!”
Technically, there wasn’t any payment, so no, I wasn’t hired.
These youngsters just happened to be my target audience and, as someone who was once in their shoes, I wanted to share my story with them.
After all, I too was once a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed student dissatisfied with traditional job prospects after college and, honestly, I felt bad for them.
When I started to write online, my goal was to reach these very same students who were never told that they could create their own paths.
Thanks to social media, there seems to be a certain “standard” when it comes to putting yourself out there. You have to be considered an “influencer” or a “thought leader” with thousands of followers before you can share what you know with others.
If you ask me, this is complete bullshit.
You don’t have to have to have an army of followers or millions of dollars in order to help others.
Too many people wait until they feel successful or worthy enough to share their thoughts.
Instead, all you have to do is realize that, at this very moment, there is someone out there who needs to hear what you have to say.
For me, design students were the perfect audience because I knew what they were going through and I had transitioned into the real world, which is one of the biggest challenges they face.