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My career

I have two bachelor’s degrees, one in Linguistics, and the other in English. I tacked on the second degree because as I started preparing for graduation, I realized I had more than enough credits for two degrees. I just needed to satisfy a couple of requirements and finish out a focus in Creative Writing, which only added a semester to my stint at UK.

I minored in Japan Studies, and I also earned a Certificate in Applied Linguistics for Teaching English as a Second Language.

Though I talked with my professors about what a person with a linguistics degree might do in the “real world”, I never got a clear idea of what I would do after graduation. The only thing I did know was that I was moving to a new city and getting married, so I focused my attention on graduating and planning the wedding.

Now I’m a Web Producer and freelance designer. I manage content and design graphics, web pages, and print materials. I find design work challenging and fun. Content management appeases my obsessive-compulsive need to organize things. I’m also interested in advertising and the sheer creativity required, and business, largely due to growing up working in a small business and then befriending a local businessman here in Augusta and acting as a sounding board for his ideas.

I didn’t go to school for any of that.

This is not rare in today’s society. However, it does present me with an interesting question.

Is what I’m doing now what I want to be doing long-term? Because if it is, I should really go back to school, or find some other way to fill the gaps in my knowledge.

I truly enjoy design. I love having different projects to work on, rather than doing the same thing every day. I don’t prefer one medium–print or Web–over the other. I’d actually rather not be exclusive. But if I want to commit to doing Web design at least part of the time, professionally, there are quite a few things I need to learn more about.

For example, I was reading a very exciting-sounding job description for a Regional Web Manager. This person would coordinate content for several websites, including working with sales departments to develop advertising, and would train local Web Coordinators on design software. I don’t know that I necessarily want to do something like this, but I find the idea of managing and designing for multiple websites, and having subordinates, appealing.

The point is that the job requires proficiency in Photoshop, ImageReady, Flash, Dreamweaver, HTML, and XML. I have used all of those save Flash, and I’ll start teaching myself Flash here pretty soon. However, I’m not sure I can argue that I am proficient in any of them. There are plenty of things I haven’t done with Photoshop, and pretty much all I know how to do in ImageReady is create an animated gif from frames created elsewhere. My HTML is pretty solid (and as compliant as I can make it), but there are tags I don’t know, and while I understand XML, I’ve never actually written any.

The list of required technologies seems short. I guess that’s why it makes me feel so inadequate.

I don’t want to downplay my success up to this point. I have done well in teaching myself all this stuff. I’m also self-taught in PHP and CSS. But I know my knowledge could be far more complete.

So I just need to decide if this is really what I want to do. And if it is, I need to take the necessary steps.