Design, Development and Writing? Sign Me Up.

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By Monica SmithJanuary 12, 2015

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? Are you doing that now? The aspirations we held as children reflect our truest passions, and looking back at these goals can shed light on the type of work that will make us happiest. Here’s how a look back at my childhood goals led me to become the newest member of Bhava’s content team.

Growing up, I loved writing stories. I wanted to become an author and illustrator of children’s books, and I filled copious spiral notebooks with stories, poems and sketches. Mostly about cats. And unicorns. But as I grew older, practicality kicked in. Drawing and various other art forms remained hobbies, but writing took center stage. My teachers frequently commended my writing abilities, and my parents agreed: art wouldn’t pay the bills, but writing was a valuable skill that could land me a “real job.” So I majored in communications and started working in PR.

A few years into my PR career, I found myself at a crossroads. I liked my job, but didn’t love it, and couldn’t envision myself building a long-term career focused solely on PR. I thought long and hard about what types of work would make me happy, including thinking back on my childhood dreams. Then it hit me. I had done a great job of pursuing writing, but had neglected my love of visuals. After reading about the myriad coding schools popping up to fill skyrocketing demand for developers, I started thinking seriously about a career in web design. I had learned basic HTML and CSS in college and had experience updating client websites through WordPress. I knew that I liked to code, and loved the idea of being able to design and build new websites, not just maintain existing ones.

Rather than quitting my job and spending $18,000 on a 10-week intensive coding bootcamp, I took a practical approach, taking evening classes at City College of San Francisco while keeping my full-time PR job. Over three semesters, I completed 24 units in web and graphic design, improving my knowledge of Adobe’s Creative Suite and adding Javascript, responsive design and UX to my toolkit.

I was excited to be learning all of these new skills, and frequently daydreamed about my future designing and building websites at some sleek agency. But this past fall, as I began to research open positions and compile a portfolio of work, my laser-focused career change plan suddenly became very blurry. I love both design and coding, so I wanted to do both, but most companies I came across were hiring one or the other — a designer to plan how sites will look, or a developer to implement someone else’s designs.

Specializing seemed like the smartest career choice, but I wasn’t enthused by the idea of either/or. I wanted a job with both the creativity of design and the precision of coding. To further complicate matters, I was beginning to question whether I wanted to abandon writing. Though websites and graphics filled my extracurricular hours, I still enjoyed learning new subjects and producing quality written content, from blog posts to technical white papers. Suddenly discouraged and uncertain, I told myself I would wait a bit longer to apply for jobs. I planned to finish out the semester; create an awesome portfolio and apply broadly to jobs in web design, graphic design, front-end development and content marketing. I wouldn’t be doing all the things I wanted to do, but hopefully I would enjoy whichever one thing I wound up with.

Then fate stepped in, in the form of a LinkedIn message from my former supervisor, Pam Njissang, who is now a senior director at Bhava. She sang Bhava’s praises and said the company was hiring content marketers. From there, everything started to click. Bhava’s founder and CEO, Elizabeth Zaborowska, understood my desire to grow in several areas rather than specializing in just one, and explained the content team’s mission to tell engaging stories through both words and pictures.

When I met with the content team and learned what the day-to-day would look like, it got even better. A position comprising design, development and writing in equal measures? The content specialist role seemed made for me. I had imagined I would find a job in one of those areas, two if I was really lucky. But all three?! Add in Bhava’s incredibly welcoming atmosphere and phenomenal office space and I was more than sold.

Though I’ve only been a Bhavan for a few weeks, I’m already engaged in fun, challenging projects, such as designing infographics, writing and laying out survey reports and making recommendations for website updates, and I’m surrounded by an extremely talented, supportive team.

I’m thrilled to have found a home where I get to put all three of my passions to good use creating great content. Plus, I’m fulfilling my childhood dream of writing and illustrating. I encourage anyone feeling uncertain about their career trajectory to think back on their childhood ambitions and seek out a position that makes use of their truest passion (or multiple passions!).

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