Why you should cherish all of your skills

As we progress through our lives, we pick up skills that range over a variety of fields whether we realize it or not. While our skills may feel trivial, each could prove to be useful in a future career.  I think the best way to get my point across is to give an example of what happened to me almost three years ago when I was 14 years old.

Up until grade nine, I’d been dabbling around with graphic design in Photoshop and a free alternative called GIMP. One of the reasons graphic design is so attractive to me is how it deftly combines the worlds of art and tech – you can be creative on this limitless digital canvas!

I wasn’t exactly Picasso, but I liked to think that my work got better each time I sat down and tried to create something. For the most part though, graphic design just felt trivial - something to experiment with during my spare time. Sure, I was curious and interested in it. Sure it was entertaining... but I never thought I would be able to use those skills in a practical way, on a website for example, or album art for music. I never thought that my designs would be applied in a real-world situation.

In the fall of 2010, this changed. I was lucky enough to have my Dad, who runs his own company called eFuel, ask me to do graphic design for some mobile applications he was creating. My job would be to create icons, buttons… essentially anything in the app that was an image. He’d seen the graphic doodles I’d been making and thought it was time to give them a bit more direction. This was the first time I could apply all the little tricks and techniques that I’d learned for something important!

Creating the first app was something of a pilot project for eFuel. The team consisted of six or seven Waterloo University students and myself. The goal was to create self-assessment applications for project managers and aspiring project managers. After answering a series of questions, the app user would receive feedback about their strengths and weaknesses, and be compared to an average from other users’ results. While my contribution to the whole app was minimal, the experience was invaluable in that it proved my intuition wrong about never being able to use my skills from dabbling in the real world.

I realize how lucky I am to have had my dad provide this opportunity to me. I really do. If you get anything out of reading this blog, realize that the more you know, the more you can achieve, no matter which field it’s in, and no matter which career you choose to pursue.

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