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    Hi all,

    I’m a newb. I’ve been lurking for quite some time. I love the site, love the screencasts, and love the Digging into WP book.

    A little background about myself: I’m currently an in-house graphic designer for a company who makes embroidered emblems and embellishments. I hate it. It’s not that I hate what I do, but I hate the company. It’s a long story that I’ll not get into, but I need to get out. I have 2 Associate’s Degrees (one in Graphic Design and one in Web Design) and just over 2 years of experience doing everything from production art to marketing graphic design to web design. I’ve also been doing freelance graphic and web design for the last 2 years. I just got married in December. My long-term plan has always been to build up my freelance business so that I can freelance from home when we start a family to earn some extra income.

    I’ve been surfing as many job boards as I can find for about the last month or 2 in search of a new job, preferably one closer to home (I work about an hour from home now). I have a job interview on Tuesday for a Production Artist job, but I have to admit I’m not terribly excited for it. The pay should be better, but the commute is longer. I’m finding that I am not qualified for anything with only 2 years experience and no Bachelor’s degree. So, my husband and I have been tossing around the idea of my going back to school.

    Here’s the kicker: With luck, my husband is going to Army Officer School. At some point in the next couple of years we will most likely be relocating. If I start school now, I’m pretty much restricted to national schools like DeVry or University of Phoenix (not that there is anything wrong with those).

    My question is this: Will it be worth it? Knowing that eventually I want to work for myself, though that isn’t to say I will NEVER go back to work for someone else, after my future children are big… is it worth it to go back? Or, should I focus more of my efforts in getting my freelance business off the ground? The job market is so slim right now, I suppose even for graduates WITH Bachelor’s degrees, that maybe I should invest more in myself… Sorry this is so long-winded. I guess I’m just looking for some advice and/or encouragement. Thanks!

    Rob MacKay

    Hey – this is my opinion gathered from people I know in the web design community…

    Qualifications don’t mean squat. They are awesome to do, and I would always recommend people do them to learn as much as they can, but only do it when you are in a position to. I think of all the people I know in the community of web designers I can connected to its about 50/50 on qualifications. Experience weighs so much more heavily, and talent, but even more so – connections. I know far too many people who got a degree thinking it would lead to an awesome job and find that it actually means nothing, they want to see your portfolio for sure – not a piece of paper :) That’s where uni can be great, as you can really build your portfolio with some cool stuff, learn new techniques and develop a "style".

    All my work recently has come via connections, recommendations and people asking me to team up on projects with them – if you want to run the freelance life, get yourself submerged in the community which is awesome btw.

    What I would say, if I were you, is go 110% after the freelance/contract stylee life. Not only will it enable you to work from pretty much anywhere what with the possibly move in the future, but also it will let you set your hours enabling you to study if you want to or do other family style things.

    Now I am not saying leave your job right away, but see how much work you have as a freelancer, overhaul your rates if required – get on twitter and into the community and sell yourself hard. The more work you put into it the quicker you can escape.

    If you are like me the next job you will get will be like the one you just left – I hated working for people, I hated the 9-5 monotony of it every day – and I hated commuting lol

    Remember life is boring unless you grab it by the horns as to say.

    So that’s my thoughts – please don’t base your decision around it completely but take my experiences from it. Oh btw – I have no qualifications.


    Just to very quickly weigh in:

    I have never taken a course related to the industry. Everything is self taught and I have no diplomas or accreditation relating to my current job as a web developer.

    I was hired based on my skills (portfolio) and experience, as well as some solid social skills for a good interview.

    Not to mention the fact that I keep on hearing about people coming out of school having learned something wrong (quite a few questions come up on these forums due to that) or something dated.

    Having said that, some people need a school-like structure to be able to learn. Personally, a school setting hinders my ability to retain information, I’m just not into it. So it really comes down to personal preference on how you want to learn. Once you have the knowledge, you can start building a solid portfolio, and eventually land a good job (or some decent freelance work).

    School does not guarantee a job, in ANY field.


    Hi Rob,

    Thanks for the advice! When I asked my friends/family, I got mixed reviews, so I figured asking a group of strangers couldn’t hurt. ;) I’m more inclined listen to actual experience than people saying "Go to school! School good!" Especially because those people aren’t paying my student loans from my previous schooling…


    <<School does not guarantee a job, in ANY field.>>

    Well said. Thinking on it further… I know plenty of "designers" who paid their money to their college of choice, got their degrees, and still SUCK.

    Thanks for giving me some more points to consider, guys.

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