5 things I am challenging myself with as I return to school after 7 years in the creative industry
I am sitting with a coffee reading over the orientation papers for the first year introduction day at my soon to be University. It is hard to say how I feel. I will be 29 years old next week, I have lived in Berlin for 2 years, I have a full-time design job, and yet I find myself in a period of my life where going back to school makes sense.
I have an Advanced Diploma in Graphic and Web Design. My education was my first introduction to the Adobe creative suite, the fundamentals of typography and perfecting my pre-press PDF settings. I jumped straight into work, naive and ready to change the industry. My confidence was high and with my perfectionist nature so were my unreachable personal standards.
I am choosing to top up my diploma into a degree for more than just the ability to be recognized as an educated individual in Germany*. I am deciding to look at the next year as an opportunity to take the expertise and business skills I have learned over the last 7 years and carefully connect them. Here are a few of the things my mentors have been challenging me with as I head back to school.
1. Forget what you have always done
I have always seen myself as a communication designer — filling in the gaps and doing my best to juggle the multiple requests while still maintaining a long-term branding vision. Upon returning to school the goal is to challenge myself to not think about the projects that I have let define my career. Instead, to take this opportunity to think about how to develop as a designer and take full advantage of the resources that are available.
2. Come expectant
I have been challenged to drop my pride and come expectant to soak up as much information as I can from both the professors and the students around me. Yes, some things will be a refresh — but there is always something new.
3. Learn the fine art of how to properly give advice
It is humbling to step back into University. I am challenged by the fact that I will be one of the oldest in my class — This also presents a chance to grow in leadership skills. I need to be careful to not assume that I know best and take this opportunity to learn the fine skill of when and how to give advice without imposing my own opinion.
Knowing how to give helpful advice no matter what position you are in can improve working relationships, strengthen teams and build confidence.
4. Age doesn’t matter
Let’s be serious. It doesn’t matter when you study — If you are 19, 30 or 60 there is always something new to learn. I decided to push aside the question of my age as I chose to attend university. (And yes, I have been asked it multiple times) Why does it matter anyway? — I personally think classes with a wide range of age is a strength for the students who are participating. Learning to work with all maturity levels and personalities is a huge strength in the workplace.
5. Build connections
As we get older we become more picky with who we surround ourselves with.
New connections bring a new perspective. New perspective drives new ideas and new ideas push the creative industry forward.
It is one of the most exciting things about being back in a learning atmosphere.
Who knows what the next year will hold. I am thankful to live in a country that provides me with the ability to pursue an education and couldn’t have made the decision to return without the solid group of mentors, family, and friends that know me best.
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- My case is an interesting one. My diploma in Canada is not recognized in Germany and I, therefore have the equivalent of a high school education. In Germany papers are everything and not having your Bachelors as an international market is extremely difficult when trying to obtain your VISA status. I have been invited to top up my degree in Communication and Interaction design here in Berlin. I will be entering into the 6th semester.
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I’m Taryn Niesena. I’m originally from Niagara, Canada and moved to Berlin in 2015 to purse a career in the growing technology startup scene. Lover of random moments, bikes, typography and wine. You can find me on Twitter, Behance and Dribbble #fintech #berlin