You Can Learn Everything by Yourself and Be a Professional
I changed my profession the day I graduated, and it wasn’t easy. I studied Balkan literature, I was an excellent student, but I lived in a country where it was almost impossible to find a job.
I had two options when I graduated: to go back to my hometown and live with my parents or start earning by myself and paying for the rent and bills.
I chose the second option. I wanted to live independently.
Though we have all the abilities to study on our own these days, we are rarely taught how to do this effectively. I learned it the hard way through my experience. But I will try to make it easier for you.
Below, you can find tips on learning fundamentals, starting freelancing, and other helpful information for effective and easy self-education.
Find your passion
You have to figure out your passion and where you will be a good fit. I was always interested in art, so graphic design was the most exciting option for me. You may find many other fields interesting, like copywriting, development, marketing, finance, tech, and more. Google and find your passion.
While you don’t need a degree, you still need fundamental knowledge. Honestly, I didn’t have any clue what design was about. Not that I didn’t know a thing about Illustrator, Photoshop, and other design tools, but I had only basic computer knowledge. So, I started from zero.
I realized that Youtube could be a good platform for a starting point. You can find good explanations and beginner tutorials there to help you build basic knowledge.
You can also get excellent advice from professionals in any field.
Join beginner courses. I started with Coursera. There are courses in plenty of fields on Coursera, and what’s even better, you can watch them for free.
Here is a list of other platforms where you can learn many things: Udemy, Domestika (if you are interested in art), Skillshare, and Udacity.
The third resource of knowledge is good, old books. I downloaded many PDFs, constantly read articles on UX Planet, and other significant design publications, like Muzli, Dribble, and UX Collective.
Find popular publications in your field of interest and dive deep into them. You won’t regret it. There are many inspiring people out there, and you can learn a lot.
As the world becomes busier, the podcast format has become incredibly popular nowadays. I like them because they allow you to multitask. You can listen to podcasts while doing anything, like washing dishes, driving, or taking a shower.
Design Better and UI Breakfast are my fav ones in the design field.
Discipline is the key to successful learning. You won’t succeed if you learn one day and leave it for a week. You have to be consistent.
Create a plan, and stick to it.
I am most effective in the morning, so I always try to get up early and work. I have a morning routine, I read articles on design while drinking morning coffee.
After 6 PM, I call it a day and do whatever I feel like doing. Be sure to leave some time for yourself. You don’t want burnout.
Create your workplace
I need a quiet, tidy place for studying. I don’t like a mess, and my desk is always organized. Create your workplace in any way that works for you, but try to study at the same place. It will help you focus.
And be sure that your workplace is cleaned from distractions.
Search for a job
Please, don’t wait too long before you start searching for a job. You will never be a hundred percent ready. And believe me, you will get the best experience by working. Step into the fire.
I got my first project two months after I started learning. Upwork was a growing platform when at that time. For those who aren’t familiar with it, it’s a famous American freelancing platform. You can earn decent money on Upwork in any field, even to find a full-time position in companies worldwide (which I did).
When I got my first project, I didn’t have any confidence in my skills. I panicked. But I succeeded. Try to developed a ‘fake it till you make it’ attitude, it helped me a lot.
If you are too afraid to apply for bigger projects, at least apply for small ones for $5 or $10, but start working. When you have pressure to finish a project for a client, you will learn faster and be more productive.
You may fail in the beginning. I had many picky clients, and I found it hard to finish the project. But don’t lose confidence. Even if you fail in the beginning, it’s not the end of the world. There are many reasons why it could happen. Maybe it was a big chunk for you as a beginner. Perhaps it was the miscommunication. Perhaps the client was a jerk.
But always do some analysis. Try to figure out why you failed. Sometimes it’s you, sometimes the client, sometimes both. Learn from your mistakes.
And keep trying, you will eventually find an excellent job for you where you will be happy and satisfied.
Keep working, and always keep learning. Over time, you will gain more confidence and achieve more skills until you can call yourself a professional.
I have more than six years of experience in the graphic design field so far. I recently got Google UX Design Professional Certificate. I’ve worked in several companies and for many clients, and a few weeks ago, I was interviewed for Microsoft.
You only need a passion and a willingness to learn. Everything else will fall into place.