Teaching has woven it’s way through my career. I love the students, and this is how I will generally have a tie to Design as I move my career in to product based pieces, versus design/client/project.
I moved back home to Maryland in 2001 after a lay-off from my first position as a web designer in Portsmouth, NH. I answered an ad for adjunct teachers for design media classes at the local community college and picked up 3 classes.
I found that I had a knack for teaching software. Sometimes I still can’t believe they let a 24 year old teach those kids.
A few different positions later I found myself teaching at a for-profit institution, yes, it was an education mill. Classes were from 8-4, M-Th, with a half day on Friday. New students every 8 weeks with some sort of certificate in the end. What it had going for it was that it was affiliated in some loose way (they paid for use of the logo) with Johns Hopkins.
After 2 years, I was saying the same bad jokes week in and week out; it was time for a change.
I revisited teaching in grad school. I was able to obtain my MFA while working full time in-house in a professional services firm, and weathered my second lay-off a semester before graduation. I taught a class for credit, and then was able to get into the system of adjuncts for the next semester.
After moving to Denver, I did get an in-house design position in the professional services realm, a law firm, jumped to another law firm, but little did I know that my career identity was about to shift more fully to an Educator: I knew my third lay-off was coming, and lined up 3 adjunct classes that started the day after I was laid off. Each of those classes was at a different local college.
My favorite of the three posted a Visiting Professor position for the school year of 2015-2016, and I thought it would be a perfect entry to Academia. It turns out that while I love teaching, I am not built for a career as a tenured-track professor.
After that experiment, I was able to pick up a part time position, while continuing to teach adjunct classes. As it stands now, teaching spans the last 15 years of my career, and have met so many wonderful motivated your designers.
I was even lucky enough to have one of my first students come and lecture a group of current students last spring. It was an ultimate, rewarding experience to see that.
From time to time, I think, how many more times do I have it in me to teach the Pen Tool in Illustrator? I voice this every now and then to folks, and one person likened it to Bon Jovi singing “Livin’ On a Prayer;” if only the pay was that good.
I said this to another professor the other day and his response was, “Oh, that’s why I tell them to watch the tutorials.” Something in me died a little, but then thought, “oh, that’s something… ”
That point of view was completely debunked as a recently graduated student said to me that he wouldn’t have known Illustrator as well as he does if it wasn’t for me.
It’s those moments…
I recently worked out my plan for 2018, and I had to bring myself to the reality that this is my last in-class teaching semester for a while, who know’s when, really. There may be the online class or so in the future, but for the near future I need to be focusing on my business.
Recently, I created an outline for 2018. So far, up until April/May, things are falling into place. Mid-April I’ll be leaving the Denver area permanently. This December will be the last graduation I attend for my favorite Metro students. Here’s a photo of the Spring graduates.
I love going to graduation. I love it, because I remember how thrilled I was to have my two favorite grad professors on stage to place the MFA hood over me. Tradition… big fan. Yep, any chance I get to wear regalia, I’ll take it! I love celebrating these young designers achievements and sending them off for their next adventure.
That’s what it all is, an adventure… and maybe my path will cross the Academia road again. Because, frankly, they keep me young, even if I have to teach the Pen Tool again.