Going after what you’re passionate about is scary when you’ve been doing something for awhile. It could be a job that has taken care of you financially. It could be a job where you’re on a clearly defined track. Whatever your situation, it’s not too late to pursue what you like and see what happens while still keeping your 9-5 job. Vy is a prime example of what’s possible.
Vy Tran (https://twitter.com/itsafterfive) lives and breathes design and creativity through her blog and writing for Design Milk (http://design-milk.com/). She does both of these things after her day job. I sat down with her recently and she shared how she got started. She’s also shared 3 takeaways for folks who might want to explore their passions after their 9-5.
How’d your interest in design turn into a writing opportunity for Design Milk?
Since middle school I’ve always had some kind of blog I tinkered with but never gave enough attention. When I graduated college, I focused mainly on my first job out of college at the advertising agency I’m currently at. I missed having that creative outlet though. After a long hiatus, I decided to start a blog again and named it “It’s After Five.” This was my little space on the Internet for me to do something creative after I’ve left my 9-5 job (see what I did there? :-)).
I created an Instagram to complement it which has now been my main focus. By far the best part about Instagram is connecting with new people and making new friends. Nanette Wong (who is a contributor for Design Milk) and I started following each other. We connected over photography and food! As a friend, she told me Jaime (founder of Design Milk) was looking for someone to help run DM's Instagram.
I was only helping out with the Instagram and working on sponsored content for the website at first. But I think my dedication to DM and quality of work impressed Jaime. So now I write for the site about all things design related on a regular basis.
Did you ever feel unsure that you should pursue this opportunity?
⁃ Definitely! I remember being really nervous to interview for Design Milk. I was thinking, What am I doing? Am I qualified? Do I even know what I’m talking about? But I’m a big believer in stepping out of your comfort zone because that’s where you’ll grow the most. Whenever this little voice of self-doubt comes out telling me to say no, I almost always instinctively say yes, even if I’m still unsure. Saying “Actually, this was a great experience but I don’t think it’s a great fit for me” is better than saying “I don’t want to try this out at all.”
Has turning your interests into a role for Design Milk changed the way you look at your career?
⁃ It’s given me a little confidence boost and made me more confident of my skills. Being a part of Design Milk made me realize I enjoy using my right brain a lot more. I’m currently exploring more into that realm of work. I recently did some styling for Madewell and Peach & Lily and it’s been a lot of fun!
What have you learned from interacting with the rest of the team at Design Milk?
⁃ We all have different interests and hobbies and it's what makes our team so diverse! For example, Jaime (http://www.jaimederringer.com/) is an amazing artist and Nanette has a lifestyle blog where she writes about food and travel at Cultural Chromatics (http://www.culturalchromatics.com/). Technology, social media, and new apps are constantly changing the game (talking about you, Snapchat!). It’s important to remain flexible and be unafraid of change or making mistakes. Almost every interview I’ve read about successful entrepreneurs is that they just experimented. They shifted focus when something worked or didn’t work, and then experimented again. That uncertainty is what keeps things interesting and Jaime definitely embraces it.
What would you recommend to people who want to explore something new? To the folks already knee deep in their current job/career?
⁃ I truly believe that when you enjoy doing something, it doesn’t feel like work. You have this internal bond with what you’re doing at hand. You're meant to do it. I know that sounds hokey but when I stye for a photograph or work behind the camera lens, hours turns into minutes. I’m on this cloud 9-like feeling because it’s so much fun. When you’re passionate about something, you’ll make the time for it. You’ll figure out how to juggle work schedules.
What would you like our readers to take away and what would you encourage them to do?
⁃ If you’re not happy with where you are, reevaluate and take those scary steps out of your comfort zone. Find happiness doing whatever you like to do. Realize what your goals/dreams are and just…start! The rest will follow. No one has it all figured out. When the time comes where your worries turn into a real problem, you’ll figure it out. In the beginning, you just need to start.
To learn more about what Vy’s up to, connect with her at:
Twitter - @itsafterfive
Her Blog - http://www.itsafterfive.com/
Her Writing on Design Milk - http://design-milk.com/author/vytran/
What is holding you back from a job outside of your 9-5? Feel free to share and comment!