The further removed I am from graduating, the less I get the question: “What was your major in college?” Instead of letting my education do the talking, I have made my work speak for itself. Let’s circle back to that question- as a Digital Strategist, what do you think my major was in college?

Communications would certainly make sense. Media Arts and Design would also be a great guess given all the graphics I produce for TMG. Both guesses are wrong. Let’s keep going:
Marketing? No.
Computer Science? Not even close.
Business? Nah.
Digital Strategy? Doesn’t that seem a bit too obvious?

Did you run out of guesses? In college, I studied Political Science. How does someone with a degree in Political Science break into the competitive world of digital strategy? The same way anyone breaks into most industries, through hard work and practice.

Getting started in digital strategy might seem overwhelming, but these days there seem to be tools you can use online to learn and practice new skills. As part of my position, I need to produce fresh graphics and layout web pages on a daily basis. I never stop learning new tricks and abilities to keep up.

A Digital Strategist’s Guide to Graphic Design:

The first time you open Photoshop can feel overwhelming. I remember having a eureka moment when I finally understood how layers interact with each other. Getting started, I relied heavily on online tutorials and videos. You can learn a lot through a quick Google search.

Past watching videos, of the most important things you can learn are the keyboard shortcuts for Photoshop (or any other design platform). Keyboard shortcuts will allow you to cut (command x) the amount of time you put into your design in half. The faster you can implement your idea, the more time you will have to adjust your design and make sure your idea works.

Finally, when I grow tired of looking at a computer screen, I try to pick up books that explain Graphic design theory. Recently, I picked up Graphic Design Theory: Readings from the Field. This book starts by tracing the evolution of graphic design beginning in the early 1900s to what the future of design may have in store for us. For more graphic design books, take a look at this list completed by Creative Bloq.

A Digital Strategist’s Guide to Website Design:

Learning to design a website through my preferred content management system, WordPress, is quite similar to my Graphic design track. The best way to get started is by watching online tutorial videos and spending time reading through the WordPress Codex.

Getting past the basics of the WordPress Dashboard took plenty of patience and practice. The best way to learn how to use the platform is to create your own website. By building out a site, you will also gain an understanding of all of the elements that go into launching a new website, from registering a domain name to learning how to host your website on the Internet. Once you build out your website, you can use it as an online resume.

Time management is a crucial component of learning new skills. At the time I was teaching myself how to design websites, I was working a full-time job. Keeping up with my self-taught digital lessons meant ensuring I set aside enough time to properly dig-in to the material. On Sunday mornings, instead of sleeping in, I would wake up early, go to the coffee shop and spend a few hours practicing my new designs. Still, today, to keep my skills up to date, I make sure to keep some Sunday mornings open for a digital strategy date. Putting in the extra time and effort has been crucial in my digital career.

The suggestions above skim the surface of the steps you can take to change your career path or develop new and valuable skills for the one you’re in. Just because you do not have a degree in Graphic Design or Web Design does not mean you can’t break into those fields. With practice and (lots of) hard work, even you can become a Digital Strategist.

Looking to up your digital strategy without the layers of work and research? The Moak Group can help.

Rebecca McTear