I have a major degree in information technology. I pursue a career in graphic design instead

This is the story of how I jumped ship.

Artwork by Ekky Pramana, 2017

Hi, my name is Ekky Pramana, and I am a graphic designer and a social media content producer at Tech in Asia. I also have an information technology degree.

Over the years, people keep asking the same question: why? The short answer to that question is: I suck at coding. The longer answer, well, you might want to hear this part of my rhetorical autobiography first.

The lecturer was talking about something I couldn’t even care less anymore. My mind, eyes, and fingers were busy arguing-slash-keyboard-bashing with a client demanding a specific change on an icon that I designed. They said they didn’t like how this icon looks and that icon feels, yadda yadda yadda. I told them to suck it up and then closed my Gmail tab.

That paragraph pretty much sums up my daily life during university years.

As an information technology students, I spent an unhealthy amount of time doing something that is not entirely related to my study. I developed icon pack apps for Android device which to my surprise, a lot of people liked it. They really liked it, so much that I can afford to buy myself decent meals and pretty things.

Designing every bit of icon in my 1,000+ collections really was thrilling and exciting. The coding part? Not so much.

Between you and me, coding and programming were never my forte. Don’t get me wrong, I love how coding gets my tinkering brain working. I sometimes spend a weekend working on a simple landing page for my online portfolio. I even won a second place in a coding competition during my second year (which I will talk about it later in a different post).

Yet there was this feeling inside of me that kept clouding my thought by telling myself that I was not that good. Programming became less and less familiar face, at some point, it became a totally strange place.

“Programming became less and less familiar face, at some point, it became a totally strange place.”

So I learned how to draw. I made icon pack apps, designed every one of the icons by myself, and learned how to deal with marketing and customer relations. I also opened a gig in Fiverr, did commission jobs to create logo for SME companies, designing book covers, and other things. I always believed design in my true call or my passion. But lately, I realized doing these sort of things was in a way acted as my coping mechanism. That can be true for both of them.

When I graduated I had zero confident in my programming skills but bestowed with 2+ years experience as a self-taught graphic designer. It eventually landed me a job at Tech in Asia, a media startup as their graphic designer, then also a social media content specialist, even though I didn’t have a formal education on design.

“I always believed design in my true call or my passion. But lately, I realized doing these sort of things was in a way acted as my coping mechanism.”

Working in a media startup is by no mean a less strange place as it is programming. For me, it felt like an uncharted territory. I had a personal blog and I did my research on how to write news but that was it. Saying that it was challenging during my first three months is an understatement. There were lots of adjustment and drawbacks at first, and Tech in Asia being a startup didn’t make it easier at all. (This is a good story but for another day).

But a year and four months later, here I am still continuously learning and surviving every passing day.

There are times when I feel like coming back to the realm of a programmer. After all, it is no secret that programmers got paid more than we (Indonesian designers) could ask for. I could always start from the beginning and work my ass up to the industry standards, right?

That is a good plan, but only a contingency plan indeed. For now, I really enjoy working on something I truly poured my heart into. And when I decided to jump ship, it is really not wise to dip my head into the water and call it a day, as a colleague and a good friend of mine said to me. The ocean is as vast as the opportunity awaits.

Disclaimer: career change is not for everybody, that is the fact. I’m not suggesting that you should always pursue your passion and dreams and be done with everything you have built so far. I could only hope you could learn a thing or two from my story.

Should you decided to do so, please know what you’re doing, and familiarize yourself with what you’re into next.

Good luck!