I found my talent in my homeland of Istanbul. I knew that I had the skills of a quality graphic designer, and the passion to make it a career. What I did not know was that moving to America would bring me many more opportunities to not only perfect my talent and create a profession out of it, but also help me grow in a way that impacted my professional and personal development.
Coming from a country on the other side of the world, it is easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of the States. This is why I want to share five tips that will help you bring your talent to the States, and take advantage of it in the best way possible.
1) Appreciate your story.
My story begins in Istanbul, within a family of doctors. Even though I grew up around medical professionals, I was never interested in medicine, (sorry, Dad!). For me, it was always about design, art and creativity. Through high school and college, I knew that I would become a graphic designer. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to learn from and get inspired by professors and artists such as Erdag Aksel, Elif Ayiter, Murat Germen, Onur Yazicigil, and many more. I even worked under the talented and renowned Creative Director Yasemin Gunacan (QueenHall).
I could have stayed in Istanbul with my friends and family, and had a great career. However, I always knew there was something more for me. I wanted to explore! I wanted to go my own way. I travelled to Los Angeles and spent three summer months at UCLA to check out the American way of life. I loved it! I then decided to make my way to New York City to learn 3D animation. After another year of design education, I decided it was time to look for a job in the States.
2) Move around.
My experience in New York City would prove to be quite pivotal in helping me find a job. After receiving my work visa, I packed my bags and moved to another big city: Chicago. I began work there as a website and graphic designer at a digital marketing agency called ParadigmNEXT. I started in their headquarters in the North Shore of Chicago, and they recently moved offices to a downtown location, where I now reside as well.
Moving homes is a hassle. It is also a big change. Changes can be scary, but they make you stronger as a person in every way.
3) Keep an open mind.
Ego is the biggest barrier between talent and success. Everybody has one, it’s an innate human quality. I realized at the beginning of my career that designers in particular have pretty big egos. However, over time, receiving feedback and criticism became a luxury. Without feedback, you cannot grow. You will be stuck, professionally, artistically, in whatever it is that you do.
At my current workplace, we collaborate as a team. I work with an extremely talented Creative Director who provides feedback every step of the way. In just a year, I have become a better problem solver, a better listener, and a better designer.
This may seem cliche, but without family and childhood friends around, it can be difficult to feel like you are home. I have established a loving family out of my colleagues and coworkers and my new friends, and I because of my passion for my career, I have found love in that as well. Without love, being successful is impossible. For all of my friends who do not love their jobs and their colleagues, I always recommend that they leave their jobs and look for something that can make them happy. If it’s impossible to leave, say for financial reasons, start doing what you love part-time so that eventually you can make it into a career. Always see the glass half full and make yourself happy. After all, fear is the opposite of faith.
5) Learn to live a balanced life.
You have to live a balanced life. Sometimes it may seem like a double life, but I look at it as balanced. I Skype as often as possible with friends, I have family visit for extended periods of time, and I make sure that my vacation days are used specifically for the times when I get to travel to my homeland.
Americans move at a faster pace and sometimes it can seem a little daunting and frightening to keep up. However, with the right support system, and the belief in your talent and yourself as a person, anything is possible here. You just have to focus on your goals, cherish your own upbringing and growth, and ultimately, believe in yourself!