I never imagined that my love of arts and crafts could turn into a career. But here I am doing a job I love, getting a PhD in a topic I’m passionate about and still finding time to knit on the side.
As a young girl, I could be happy for hours creating canvases, sewing myself a dress or working on embroidery. While I enjoyed dressing American Girl Doll Molly McIntire in her various 1940s fashions and learning about the time period in the process, I was not thinking about my future career at all, only what made me happy. And then as a teenager, with the help of AOL, I joined an online community of novel web page designers, and together, we mastered HTML, frames, Adobe Photoshop and Flash. Maybe my young entrepreneurial self was on to something?
A College Conundrum
Having taken many studio art classes in high school, I wanted to continue on that path in college but did not necessarily want to be “an artist.” I started my freshman year at Montclair State University in New Jersey as a Fine Arts major with a concentration in Art History. Meanwhile, I worked as a webmaster in University Communications. But by the time I graduated, I was unsure what path I wanted to take. So, I applied for two master’s programs: a Master of Arts in Theatre with a concentration in Arts Management at Montclair State and a Master of Arts in Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.
I got accepted to both programs, and so decided to pursue both simultaneously. Three years later, upon graduating from those programs, I continued to work in web design at the university, earning a promotion and ultimately switching divisions to be a web content manager for the College of Education and Human Services.
A Serendipitous Opportunity
One day, while working on available position postings within the university, I came upon an announcement for an adjunct in the Fashion Studies Department. The requirements for the job included a Master’s Degree in Fashion, so it just seemed serendipitous and I applied immediately. I was offered the job and found teaching to be something I had not previously considered yet loved. My students were focused and wanted to soak up as much information about fashion and textiles as humanly possible during our semesters together. I found that interacting with students is inspiring on so many levels.
Working in academia has also influenced me to continue my studies. As a PhD student in History & Culture at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, I hope to continue to teach and educate the next generation while expanding my own knowledge and understanding. Academia has showed me just how important an education is.
Connecting Personal and Professional Interests
I never knew that a love of arts and crafts as a child would one day morph into a career in web design and teaching. And at the end of each day, I still find time to relax, unwind and spend some time knitting. As a new mom, I use my love and knowledge of fashion to create stylistic accessories for my son. My love of arts and crafts is still there - it’s just evolved.
Sometimes, when we’re trying to find our niche, we can’t see how certain fields are related, but there are ways to make connections that both fulfill personal and professional interests. You might need to think a bit creatively about how one field can interact with another. Follow your heart, and you will find fulfilling roles that exist in between your training and passions.