And we're back with a new post in the When I Grow Up series! Today we're hearing from Stephanie Woody, a graphic designer located in the Dallas area. I met Stephanie right after I moved to Dallas back in 2009 and even though we don't see each other often enough, I still count her as a good friend! I watched as she left her first graphic design job to follow her dream and travel the world as a missionary for 11 months. Now she has an adorable baby girl and is back working as a graphic designer. Let's hear all about it now!
As a child, I wanted to be a ______ when I grew up. An Olympic gymnast!
How close (or far) is your current career from that dream? Pretty far off! I didn’t accomplish making it to the Olympics, but I did get pretty close! When it came time to decide if I wanted to home school so I could practice more than the 5 hours a day I already was, I chose my childhood instead. Such a tough decision when you are only 12! To this day I respect my mom for supporting me no matter what I decided and not pushing me one way or the other. Somedays I still think that would have been really neat to stick out, but at the same time I know I wouldn’t have all the wonderful friends and experiences that I have now. That experience also taught me a lot about self discipline at an early age, which is a must for the career I chose.
What is your official job title? Graphic Designer
Ok, now what does that really mean? The boring way of explaining what it means is that I sit in front of a computer all day, haha. And the exciting way of explaining what I do is that I get to take people’s dreams and passions and put a face to them; turning their ideas into something impactful and creative! Whether their dream is to start a non-profit, open up a restaurant, host a concert or announce a new baby, I help put that to paper through designing logos, invitations, packaging, posters, websites, t-shirts, ads, etc.
What is a typical day like? Graphic designers like their sleep (which oddly we don’t get very often) so I usually don’t get into the office about 9 or 9:30. Some days we have meetings with clients all day long or phone calls with printers and others we have the day free to just design. Depending on the project, some clients are billed by the hour so we have to watch our time and some are open ended! The amount of projects we have at a time changes constantly, we can have 2-5 or 12-15. My company is small; there are only 4 designers, so we will work together and bounce ideas off each other. It’s a very fun environment. I’m supposed to work till 6PM, but most of the time I am there till 8 and if we are on a very tight deadline we will be there till midnight. That is the part that can be very exhausting!
How did you end up in this career? It was my second semester my freshman year in college and I was undeclared. I had no idea what I wanted to do the rest of my life (who really does at 19 years old?!), but I knew I needed to pick something ASAP to avoid having to go for 5 years and end up with even more debt! I also knew I was not a fan of writing papers or studying all the time and I had a good friend who was majoring in graphic design. I loved art and being creative so I thought “Hmmm, why not? Let’s do this!”
What kind of education or training did you complete for this career? I have a BFA in Graphic Design that I definitely earned. Art classes are actually double the hours you take so for every 3 hours of class credit you get, you are actually in class 6+ hours. I had many all nighters in college. I recently had a sweet baby girl and when she was only a month old my friend asked me what motherhood was like and I simply said pretty much like college (up all night) only you are taking care of a tiny human! Like many other career fields, you need more than just a degree though. Experience is just as important as the education. Before working where I am now, I worked for American Airlines designing for the American Way magazine. It was a completely different environment, much more corporate, but just as fun and rewarding. I am a firm believer that the people you work with can make or break a job not matter what it is you are doing. I have also done various freelance jobs for friends on the side. Those are always really fun, but very hard to make a consistent living off of.
What advice would you give to someone who wants a similar career? For anyone who wants to go down this path make sure it is because of your passion and not for the money. It takes a lot of dedication and self discipline to make it far! It also is very fast paced and changing so if you know that going in, it makes it a lot easier to adapt and grow. Don’t let anyone tell you you cannot do it because you can’t draw or you are not creative enough. What do they know! This field is always open to new and fresh ideas. If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish a lot.
Do you have any other career dreams? What do you want to be when you grow up? I do! I have been very fortunate to live overseas in first and third world countries and I have a huge heart for people, traveling, other cultures and mission work. I especially love designing for non-profits. Unfortunately, it is very hard to find a paying graphic design position with a non-profit to be able to solely live off of. My ideal dream job would be to live overseas working with a mission organization, doing life with people while also still being able to do design. What is neat about that, is graphic design transcends all languages!
Any last thoughts or encouragement for others trying to decide what they want to do “when they grow up”? Some of the best advice I was ever given was to “Love God, Love people and just DO.” Meaning there is no right or wrong choice for what you decide to do with your life. College or no college? Business or Art? I think there is a tremendous amount of pressure in our society to choose the right American dream and that once you pick a path you’re stuck doing that forever. I believe that is complete BS. We have so many opportunities here in America and it is okay to have multiple dreams. It is okay to switch paths along the way. Change is good. Change is what grows us and it is experiencing life that matters, not climbing to the top of the career ladder. Loving others can look different in so many ways. Do you want to be known by how much money you make or by how many lives you have made better by simply being you?
Thank you so much Stephanie for telling us about your job! And your daughter is so adorable, I need to see her again soon :)
Previously on Mrs Robbins Sparkles...