Carving Out a Career Path using Design Thinking

While I was checking my email, I got my weekly email from, which has learned my preferences based on the articles on the sit that I have read. The top article, published by Fast Company, the e-mail advertised caught my eye. It was a story by Paula Davis-Laack¬†about how she used design thinking to find a new career path. She was a lawyer experiencing the burnout that many in demanding career field do, and she was looking for a career change. She decided to use design thinking to find her new direction. Davis-Laack first did some design research … on herself, noting what she loved to do and what has interested her in the past. Based on that, she moved on to ideation, coming up with jobs that may fit into those categories. She then moved on the career-path-quest version of rapid prototyping. This took a couple different forms, the first being a week-long pastry chef internship (that she hated), but most being conversations with people in the career fields she had ideated. This was the “fail fast, fail often” stage. She hit a lot of “dead ends”, learning that some of the jobs she was originally interested in, like entrepreneurship and reporting the news, weren’t as attractive as she first thought. It was here where Davis-Laack brings up the amazing point that design thinking is not about finding the perfect solution first, but about finding the best solution through iteration upon iteration and learning from the failures that inherently come with that. Eventually, she ended up pursuing a master’s degree in¬†positive psychology at University of Pennsylvania and is now a speaker, writer and coach specializing in career burnout and resilience (coming full circle).

I benefited from this article in many ways. For some time now, I have wondered what career path my design education would lead me towards and even if design is the right path for me. That general feeling of career advice is what originally caught my eye. The most helpful tip in terms of career was when she said, “Too often, people get stuck chasing their first idea or trying to find one perfect idea or solution to a problem, which rarely works.” I’m 19. I don’t need to figure out the exact career path I’m going to do go down for the rest of my professional life. There will most likely be twists, turns, and missteps. I need to make my peace with that.

It also helped me in my perspective on the newest project in studio. We have been given a sort of structure about when certain tasks should get done, understandably considering our inexperience with design prompts. This article, which describes the versatility and simplicity of a fairly standard design process. It has helped me reframe my thinking and motivation about the tasks at hand, which hopefully will lead to a more successful final product for this project.

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