Thank you David Koeth for introducing me to Tom and thank you for sending me this piece.
Let’s hear from Tom Rutledge:
If I had any advice to give to anyone, it would be to never discount anything that brought you to the point you’re at now. Currently I’m the in-house graphic designer and marketing director for a company and everything that I’ve done up until now supports the position I’m in now. I started at Bakersfield College as an English major, with the intention to teach and write on the side. I was working shifts as a waiter and trying to balance work, school, my wife’s school, my daughter’s school, and I’m sure it’s obvious how precarious the situation was. I’m pretty normal in a lot of these regards, I love movies, I love computers, and consider myself a pretty average geek. All in all this isn’t much different from many people around today that are struggling to find the balance in school, work, family, and trying to wedge some free time in with everything. Eventually I chose to study graphic design because I had more of an affinity with it and took to it well. Despite everything else that was swirling around me on any given day I stuck with it because I have a passion for it.
Eventually I found myself meeting my current boss through my old work. We struck up a conversation and talked about things such as my service in the Navy, my love of computers, and how I was studying graphic design with the intention to go into advertising or branding. He mentioned had a marketing system that they couldn’t find someone in his business to allocate time to train, and that they needed someone to do some small graphic design projects. I decided to meet with him, we found me a good fit for the job, and here I am today.
Here is the unique thing about all of this though. Marketing this company I would normally need someone with strong copy skills to write emails, generate copy for ads, and copy for flyers and such. I would also normally need someone with strong art skills to design the art assets that would go into all the projects used to market the company. Then I would need myself to have the understanding of people, their habits, the way they think, and how to make them happy and keep them happy. Oddly, everything I’ve done up to this point has enabled me to do this. I learned good copy skills from the period I was an English major, I learned my art skills in the graphic design courses at Bakersfield College, and I learned my skills with people while working for nine years as a waiter. So that’s really the message I have to convey to anyone that reads this, use everything you’ve done to enable your passions. Achieve what you want by realizing that you’re developing a skillset at all times in your life, and use that skillset to leverage the profession that caters to your passions.