Advice #38: Mix and Match

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So many of you have been writing in with questions lately so I wanted to use this week to answer as many of the shorter ones as possible. Enjoy!

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Givenchy Heels

I’m almost 20, and even though I adore how they look, I don’t know how to walk in high heels. Really. I own a pair and I ‘practice’ walking in them around the house every now and then, but I don’t know if I’m doing it right.

As with anything, get comfortable and then work your way up! Start with a one to two inch chunky heel or wedge and wear them as much as possible until you feel like walking around in them is second nature. Your stride should look as natural as possible though it will take some time to get used to walking at a normal pace. I don’t think that any woman is born walking perfectly in heels!

I’ll let you in on a little secret — if you go through my photos, almost always, you’ll notice that I stick to wearing wedges. They are great because they give you that bit of extra height with a huge dose of stability. Nobody wants to hobble all around town! In truth, I own one pair of actual stilettos. Everything else in my shoe arsenal is mainly a wedge or a super chunky heel. My all-time favorite wedges are my patent gray Dries Van Notens and my most easy to wear heels are also by Dries Van Noten. Both pairs have really great non-slippery rubber soles. When it comes to shoes, aim for quality over quantity — take care of your feet!

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I’m about to graduate high school next month and I’ve applied to a college for a two year diploma in graphic design. When I’m done with the two year diploma, I can upgrade for another year (it’s advanced graphic design). After those three years of studying, I get a one year transfer credit to a university towards a BFA degree. I could’ve applied for a BFA degree at the university now, but I didn’t, because their GD program is more studio art and art history. What would you say are the ups and downs of the choices I made?

Degree titles aside, you really have to focus on the program and route that you feel is the best match for your goals. Have you already taken the time to meet with advisors at both schools?

When you’re finished with college and applying for design jobs in particular, it doesn’t necessarily matter what your diploma says or what your exact path has been to earn that degree if your portfolio isn’t solid. In my personal experience, a great internship along with a solid portfolio and client list have gotten me further than what a piece of paper says I acomplished. I had my own reasons for seeking out a two year degree in design versus a four year degree. The most important reason was that I already had a four year degree in another major and I didn’t see any benefit in wasting the time and money to have two. Plus, my community college program was focused on preparing us for the real world as quickly as possible with the end goal of us having jobs by the time we graduated. I put in the time and effort and that held true.

Which program best fits your focus and budget? The less money you have to pay back when you finish, the better (thanks to the affordability of community college, my loans are almost gone). It sounds like you’ve already given your route some serious thought and who knows, after earn your two year diploma, you might be ready to work professionally and not need to transfer after all. Quite a few students in my two year program were.

Do you ever get tired or bored with what you do?

Tired, yes. We all get tired. Bored? Never. There’s always an opportunity to learn something new, even when you’re working on the most mundane projects. Realistically, this comes down to adopting a positive mindset and choosing to find value in every new experience. They say that practice makes perfect and I agree — you should always strive to find ways to improve your skill set and to become more rounded as a designer. For example, while I don’t find production work to be the most thrilling, I often work on projects with huge amounts of it because I want to sharpen what I already know. I chose my career because I loved it. If I didn’t love it, wouldn’t every day feel like torture? You’re only going to live once so you might as well do what you love. Of course you don’t have to love every little experience or project but you should strive to enjoy your overall path.

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Source unknown

I have a question about time/energy. Young female entrepreneurs work insane hours, right? I want to launch myself as a freelance art writer. However, I get tired and sick pretty easily and am dealing with some tough personal stuff, so am having to learn to pace myself with how much work I take on at any one time. Do you have any advice on managing workload? Do you have to work a 60 hour week to be successful?

I am probably the wrong person to ask about this because I genuinely enjoy working; it provides me with both structure and purpose. Everyone is different though and it’s really important that you adopt a plan that’s best for your health and lifestyle, not just your career. Unfortunately, while freelancing provides some huge perks, the lack of structured hours and often intense deadlines can weigh you down. We all require varying amounts of sleep and downtime — if a job, self-imposed or otherwise starts taking a toll on your health, it’s definitely time to reconsider!

I have to stay super organized because I freelance at agencies as well as working with my own clients so there is a constant rotation of projects and deadlines. I keep a fairly simple routine for staying organized — I am a die-hard list maker. Every single day, I open up my Moleskine planner and write down everything that needs to be done. If something doesn’t get done, I carry it over to the next. Crossing items off my list makes me feel accountable for my time and that I’m not letting anything from emails, client work, appointments or household chores slip through the cracks.

Additionally, I try to keep a routine. Since everything around me can be crazy, I try to wake up at around the same time every morning, answer emails, re-write my to-do list and then unwind at night my catching up on my favorite blogs in Google Reader before starting any freelance work.

Success is a bit open-ended. Once you pinpoint what exactly you’d like to achieve with your freelance career and when, you can form a plan that will help you move forward in a way that works with your lifestyle. If your plan starts to not seem worthwhile, ask yourself why and reformulate your goals. Remember, your goals for you career don’t have to be all or nothing. Nobody reaches a level of huge success overnight.

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