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Meet Caroline Adams, Shillington Online Graduate and Freelance Designer

Shillington Online graduate Caroline Adams was working in marketing but was always jealous of the work that the creative team were creating—she knew she needed to be designing. After attempting to teach herself, Caroline craved a creative community and she found that and a whole lot more at Shillington. Our online course allowed her to change her career to be doing exactly what she wants to do be doing, all whilst continuing to work. She’s now a freelance designer and is thriving in her new role.

We caught up with Caroline to chat about studying online, why she decided to become a graphic designer and more.

Why Shillington? What made you choose to study online with us?

I loved the idea that I didn’t have to quit my full-time job and go back to school to study design.

Shillington made pursuing design a realistic option for me and one that I could fulfill while still making an income.

I also connected with a few Denver-based Shillington graduates before joining the course and they had only rave reviews of the course, so I decided to take the leap!

You made the change over from marketing to design—what inspired you to take the leap?

In my marketing roles, I always coveted the jobs of my company’s in-house creative team—it seemed like a dream to make the campaign graphics for a living. I also have been known to get lost in store aisles with tons of packaging or choose restaurants based on signage, but it took working with my former company’s creative team to understand that making beautiful design that lives in the digital and physical world is a job (the best one!). 

For a few years, I was trying to learn design on my own, but I found it hard to piece together my own education using books and online tutorials and really craved connecting with other designers and students of design. 

What have you been up to since graduation? How has your life changed after Shillington?

I am really proud to say that I’ve been able to launch my own freelance business and work with all sorts of wonderful clients from hotels to musicians to wellness companies.

A major shift in my life has been the ability to lead a creative life, feel like I belong in design communities, and most importantly, notice the kerning on everything. 

Any recent professional projects you can tell us about?

I recently designed the branding for a fishing lodge and it has been a truly mind-blowing experience. Seeing loads of signage and people walking around with your designs on their backs never gets old. It’s a magical feeling to get to create work that you love creating, while simultaneously really helping to improve businesses by driving brand awareness and brand trust through design. 

What was your experience of the Online course like? Tell us about the 9 months!

I have so many wonderful things to say about the course but maybe the biggest one is that I loved the fact that each time we would learn a new skill or new program, we would quickly be able to implement that skill in an assigned brief.

This model of teaching made it seamless to remember the skills we were learning because we constantly were able to leverage that new information. We definitely built on each skill as well, so retaining information was much easier than in a typical course!

Did you make any meaningful connections with teachers or fellow students during the course?

Yes! The first night I met some friends that I would keep throughout the course and into life—we leaned on each other during the course for additional feedback and we still keep in touch. It was seriously incredible to watch our whole class move from knowing very little on night one to now having gorgeous portfolios and constantly sharing work that I will see on social media and think to myself, “Dang! The talent!!”. 

I also connected with a couple teachers who gave me a lot of confidence in my work and always were available for advice or critique. 

What was your favourite brief on the course? Tell us your process!

This is a tough one because I liked so many, but I think I had the most fun on the Brand ID brief where I developed a concept for an urban garden center. I loved being able to build the branding from the ground up including the name and all of the brand assets. 

I also worked to develop a custom typeface that I used in all of the rollout assets for that brief (shout out to my teacher Nick Bailey for the awesome feedback on this project!). 

What would you say to someone who is skeptical about the Shillington course?

In nine months I learned more than in three years of trying to teach myself. It’s worth it one million times over. 

If you could give one piece of advice to someone starting at Shillington, what would it be?

Listen, be open to feedback, make connections because everyone at Shillington is truly amazing, and really just try to enjoy every minute of it!

It goes by so fast and I miss seeing my Shillo buddies online at the end of my workday!

Huge thanks to Caroline for sharing her story with us! Make sure to follow her on Instagram and check out her website for her latest work updates.

Feeling inspired by Caroline’s creative career change? Read all about Shillington’s innovative graphic design course and become a graphic designer in just three months full-time or nine months part-time.

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