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Women Who Went for It! is a bi-weekly podcast, hosted by Career Change Agent, Sara McArdle. The show features inspiring chats with successful industry changers who share how they found the clarity, courage and motivation to step into a deeper vocation and a life of meaning and fulfillment. We hope you'll see just how many before you have GONE for it—and they're eternally grateful that they took the risk!

Dec 22, 2019

Women Who Went for It Podcast Guest: Gillian Levine

In this episode, Sara talks with Gillian Levine about her journey from administration and customer service to graphic design. Gillian talks about her rocky start in university and the "career world," and her experiences with surviving an assault, the PTSD that followed, and going to rehab to transcend her cycle of self-medicating through alcohol use. She shares how authentic conversations with and encouragement from her former colleagues and supervisor at the University of Washington gave her the push she needed to recognize and pursue her creative passions. Today—less than two years after graduating from Seattle Central Creative Academy—Gillian is a freelance illustrator, designer, and writer doing work for big name clients like Leafly, Target, and Snapchat.
Want to make your own career change?
Download Sara's Seven Cs of Successful Career Change Chart.
Sara and Gillian Discuss:
  • How Sara knows Gillian
  • Gillian not having a great first experience in college
  • Her struggles picking a career path
  • Working in the service industry, and then being assaulted
  • Experiencing depression and PTSD
  • Feeling safer in 9-5 office jobs
  • Working in customer service at the University of Washington (UW)
  • Going back to school at University of Washington but struggling to find a major that fit
  • Longing to make a positive impact on people's lives but unsure of how
  • A shooting at one of her regular hangouts that triggered her PTSD
  • Drinking to self-medicate and going to rehab
  • Being at her all-time low and not believing in herself
  • Getting another job at a doctor's office and then a temp job at UW
  • Working for corporate and foundation relations at UW
  • Leaving the path of self-destruction
  • A bold question from a coworker that changed the course of her professional life
  • Her corporate and foundation relations supervisor encouraging her to do graphic design for their team
  • UW paying for her to attend graphic design classes, though seemingly unrelated to her work
  • Her now-husband supporting her new career path
  • Going back to school at Seattle Central Creative Academy
  • Getting really good at self-discipline
  • Truly doing her "dream job" now (even though she didn't know what that meant before)
  • What it's like being a freelance designer, working from home
  • How good graphic design means leaving your ego at the door
  • How her background in customer service supports her design work
  • How she finds her clients
  • A gigantic mural she designed for the new Target store in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle
  • Designing a sticker pack for Snapchat
  • What her two-year graphic design program was like
  • Her husband losing his job while she was studying, and her agreeing to be their temporary breadwinner
  • Her conflicting thoughts of - I can't do what I love AND be paid well for it
  • Initially hating freelancing and having the goal of getting a job
  • Receiving two job offers and seeing that neither was the right fit
  • Transitioning smoothly into freelancing
  • Things that she would have done differently if she could do it all over again
  • Her advice for people considering getting into graphic design
  • General advice she has for people who are going through a big career change
  • ...and more!
Gillian's Full Bio:
Gillian Levine is an illustrator, designer, and writer who is passionate about helping people bring their ideas to life. She approaches every new project as a puzzle to solve, and strives to understand the individual needs of each client through vigorous research, thoughtful planning, and strong communication. Gillian works in a variety of illustration mediums, from paper cutting to digital painting. She seeks to bring personality, warmth, and color to my work, and aspires to delight her audience while encouraging them to think about ideas in new and thoughtful ways. Gillian is a 2018 graduate of the Seattle Central Creative Academy. Prior to going back to school for graphic design, Gillian worked as a secretary for over 10 years before finally deciding to make a change to pursue her creative passions.
Connect with Gillian Levine:

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Phone: 503.893.2043
Want to make your own career change?
Download Sara's Seven Cs of Successful Career Change Chart.