Why creative risks can accelerate your career
It is possible to find career success without formal training, and I’m proof of that.
When I entered the innovation field in 2008, it was a bit of the wild-west. When people referenced design thinking or human-centered design, not many understood the process or value. I joined IA to solve business challenges through the power of design but never imagined where it would lead.
As an employee in the teens, my official title was “Account Manager.” In reality, I did lead and guide our clients through the design and innovation process - but as a start-up environment, I wore quite a few hats: researching, moderating, brainstorming, and strategizing. I was lucky to have landed at IA, a company that understands that great ideas and outcomes can come from team members from all different backgrounds, even journalism, regardless of the training.
The team at IA knew that I was not a designer, but they encouraged me to express my ideas and not be afraid to speak up. My lack in formal design training didn’t stop me from sketching out ideas with clients while leading brainstorming sessions. My sketches of people were so rudimentary, one client jokingly called them “Snowpeople,” and the name stuck. People loved to tease me about my sketches, but I didn’t mind; I now had a signature sketch style - progress! It’s a small example, but important to showcase that because I had such enthusiasm for my work and pushed clients to think differently, my colleagues respected me and supported my career growth as an innovator.
You may think you need a formal degree to grow in your career, particularly in a competitive field like innovation. But that’s not always the case. If you find the right company with the right talent program, you will be supported with continuous learning opportunities.
Sure, you’ll probably feel nervous and make mistakes, but that’s okay. It’s even a good thing. My willingness to draw terribly in meetings helped clients feel comfortable expressing their creative ideas. It’s powerful to figure things out as you go and to do it publicly, and people will respect you for it. Most importantly, you’ll gain the confidence to keep stretching yourself — and that’s where the real career growth happens.