I'm doing it, ya'll / by Carlie Guilfoile

This past year has been huge for me. 

I have made a number of changes in my work and personal life. As the title of this post alludes, I accomplished a few things, too! I am excited to ice the cake with the launch of this blog, a place where I can share more personal stories, life tidbits and creative updates with you.

Why start a blog at 28? Well, I am embarking on a new chapter. This August, I am ecstatic to be attending Carnegie Mellon's Graduate School of Design!  

It has been over a year since I left my job at Antenna to explore the possibility of going back to school. At the time, I was almost certain I wanted to get an MBA. I already had a foot in the door. I was working in marketing, understood the needs of B2B companies and had experience generating new business. That said, as I explored business schools and began preparing application essays, listing out my greatest strengths and biggest drivers, I realized my life-long passion was elsewhere - in design. As a high school senior, I had chosen Virginia Tech because they had the best interior design & architecture program. I didn't end up pursuing that path, but reflecting on some of the decisions I made a decade ago helped make it clear that design school was my perfect fit.

My heart is in the work.
— Andrew Carnegie

Getting here wasn't easy though. In the last year, I quit my job, spent months studying for the GRE, took the test twice, created a design portfolio from scratch (you're looking at it!), started working as a communications consultant, applied to four grad schools and trained as an Organizing for Action Digital Fellow. I turned my unpaid gigs into opportunities to learn new skills, eventually helping me land a role leading digital strategy for a San Francisco Board of Education race at the end of 2016. In lieu of a full-time job, I worked on a passion project in my home town and eventually jumped back into PR & marketing, where I became a manager of three people. After all that, I got the news that I'd been accepted into grad school.

Not easy. I felt a lot of instability, self-doubt and loneliness at times – but there were a surprising number of things that fell into place when I put myself out there. It's been a real reminder that I am my best self when I take big risks.  

I will write more about my experience, both discovering the design world and applying to design schools, for those interested in learning more. Carnegie Mellon's program focuses on interaction design and the curriculum dives into design strategy, experience design (for interfaces/products), service design and designing for social innovation. My hope is that I can leverage my knowledge of the clean tech industry and experience in digital organizing & communication to design services that matter and, ultimately, bring communities together. 

I'll be road-tripping from San Francisco to Pittsburgh next month and school starts on the 25th. I'm doing it ya'll!

 - carliekarma