How did I select Designing as my Career?

Designing as my Career

The road to success has not been a linear one. It has come with many ups and downs in my career. It all began at Cal State Fullerton as a college student. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my career. I was there only because I was told that’s what one must do to succeed. Living on campus immersing myself in the culture, I got close to two of my roommates, Graphic Designers. At the time, I had never heard of that career. All I knew was ever since I was little, I loved making art. Designing menus for dinner, making custom art for kids in my class.

Why did I decide on designing as my passion?

But I never thought I could turn my passion into a functioning job/business. Nor did my school offer any computer programs pre-college. Not surprising for an Inland Empire school. But as I hung out in the living room and watched my roommates work away on their projects, I began to become interested in every detail, until one brought up to me, you know you should try it out yourself! I had a small background with photo editing and web design, thanks to myspace and scene days. But once again never thought I would be able to turn those interests into a career.

So I took a couple of prereq art classes, and my passion for school and life was rejuvenated. It was a long 5-year program to get my BFA in Graphic Design, And there were many times when I felt like giving up. But I knew deep down, pursuing YOUR passion is one of the most important goals you can go after. It was an uphill battle, my family did not support what I was doing, but I kept pushing until I got my degree up on that stage!

Next came the seemingly impossible search for a job as a new graduate. They tell you it’s hard, but I didn’t think it would be THAT difficult! New grads are a dime a dozen, and in LA (where I wanted to pursue my newfound passion), the stakes were even higher. Months had passed, and I ran out of money and hope—interview after interview and no leads.  I eventually had to pack my bags and head home to the Inland Empire. But as I packed my last bag in my car, I got a call from a startup beauty company I had interviewed with a week ago. I was hired. And for the first time as a new graduate, I had hope again. Since I was already all packed up, I drove north to LA to find a place instead of south to my hometown. And so began my career as a Graphic Designer in LA.

But it doesn’t end there! 6 months into this new job, all of us employees were surprised to walk in one morning to find that our company was closing their doors for good. Unemployed again. Not going to lie. That was one of the hardest days I faced. As soon as I got home, I applied to every job in sight out of fear of being unable to pay my high LA rent next month. Low and behold, a week later, I found a new job as a photographer at a crystal company. Even though I was trying to pursue my design career, I couldn’t pass up a fast opportunity to make money. I had dived into photography at school and had a pretty strong understanding of it. Many of my teachers had asked me to switch to the major, but once again, I had to follow MY passion. Sensing a theme here?

Almost two years went by, and I was working very hard for very little. When I would come home, I would work freelance to help pay the bills. I was stressed and strapped, you could say! It’s not easy making it on your own in one of the biggest metropolitan cities in the world. But because I wanted to pursue Graphic Design so badly, I took whatever gig I could get on the side to keep those creative wheels turning. I ended up freelancing for companies like Melt Cosmetics, Gucci, and Alo Yoga. Did I mention I was also applying/interviewing for numerous jobs at the same time? Needless to say, I had my hands full. But because I had spent so long as a photographer, potential jobs were starting to question where my skill set laid. I went through multiple self rebrandings till finally, I felt I was showing my best version of myself to the world. Refined and rebranded! That’s when I was hired at Forever 21 as a Global Creative Designer. Thanks to my wonderful Art Director Diana, who saw my hard work and experience and decided to give me a chance. I am forever grateful for her work ethic and motherly instinct as a leader.

Flash forward to now, I am now working as an Art Director for a celebrity jewelry company in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles. As well as the head of marketing and PR. Every job I took was a level up from the last. In my experience, it seems switching jobs is the only way to get a promotion and a title change. Don’t be afraid of change and never settle! To get me to this place, I have had to leap of faith that I can do something I’ve never done before. But that’s how we grow. As humans, as employees, as friends, as lovers. I’m grateful for this hectic journey. At the moment, there were, of course, times where I didn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. But you don’t have to know “how” you are going to reach your goals. You have to believe you ARE going to get there. Keep grinding, keep putting in the work, keep evolving. Every “No” is a lesson learned. No matter how hard times get, keep pushing. You never know when your next break is coming!

Allisa Sebelius

Also read How I Built My Career In Graphics Design & Customer Experience Management

How did I select Designing as my Career?

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