I recently had a chance to sign up for a masters course in Human-Computer Interaction but decided against it. Before that, I never had a chance to study design and that didn’t stop me from actually becoming a designer.
I come from a small, seaside town in Slovenia. By the time I finished high school I had already been designing and building websites for a couple of years. There was no digital design course in any of the faculties in Slovenia at the time so I decided to sign up for the Computer Science course in Ljubljana—Slovenia’s capital. I didn’t know what to expect but shortly after I started the course I realized that it wasn’t for me. Looking back now, I think I just wasn’t mature enough to see the potential in learning Java and stuff. So I dropped out.
Dropping out meant that I had to move back to my hometown and sign up for a course there. With a limited range of those available locally, I decided to study Management. Not because I had a dream of becoming a manager or an economist, it was simply the most generic option out there. And you know what they say—you need a degree to even stand a chance to get a job. All this time I was still designing and building stuff. Not just websites, but user interfaces and user experiences as well. I started out being completely clueless what UX design actually is. Whenever I didn’t know something, I improvised, made mistakes and learned from them.
Because there was no course guiding me towards “what I should be learning” I basically learned a bit of everything. I was frustrated by doing everything for my clients until I learned about the T-shaped skills at some point. I then decided to become a specialised generalist and systematically develop my skills which included front-end development, writing, management, UX research so they would complement my UX/UI and visual design skills well. I was never happy doing just one step in the process and handing it over to the next person in line.
I had a privilege of not being able to study design.
Thinking about it now, I believe I had a privilege of not being able to study design. Privilege because I had to learn everything I know by myself. It’s a privilege also because I had the passion for doing design driving me onward. So I actually ended up doing what I really love, it was never just a fling. It was, and still is a journey driven by excitement of creating things and a hunger for learning. It started out as a dream, a hobby even. I never planned on becoming a designer but at some point it became a dream. A dream that was up to me to fulfil. And in the end, it was a privilege because I didn’t follow an established path towards becoming a designer. I learned what I had to, to get the job done, not something that a professor threw into a course’s curriculum. It was never something I could take for granted, it was something I had to fight for. If I wanted to be a designer, I simply had to do what designers do. That’s it, it’s as simple as that.
Get my next blog post in your inbox
Join more than 20,000 designers already on my personal mailing list.