A Surprising (But Not Uncharacteristic) Career Move for Me

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Rachel Zampino

Rachel Zampino

Sharing my travels, digital nomad life, and current hyper fixations!

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I spend way too much time in my own head.

Wondering what I should do next…if I’m on the right path…if I’m “successful”…what my younger self would think of me now…

Wondering if it’s an epic failure or a bad decision to pivot my career a bit. After all, I’ve spent the last 12+ years building up my portfolio, connections, expertise, etc. in the design realm.

I somewhat unconsciously have been transitioning into web development work ONLY over the last 2-ish years—and more consciously in the last few months.

Making the decision to move across the world, and also -finally- finding out why my brain works so differently from others (surprise autism / ADHD double diagnosis), it has forced me to re-evaluate my entire life. In a good way. My work and schedule, my relationships, my energy levels, hobbies, self care, etc.

One of my bigger findings so far is that my brain works best on “logic” mode.

(Mind you I’m only about 7 months into this “new brain, new me” thing)

I have never called myself an “artist” and never will. I never felt that free-spirited sense of self expression through art. It feels impossible to me. I need a prompt; an end goal, a target…anything other than being left alone with a blank page and my thoughts.

I do however consider myself a “designer”. Despite them constantly being lumped together, design isn’t like art. Design isn’t self expression, design serves a purpose. It tells people how to get to the right subway station, how to navigate a website, or where to park. I’ve always been fascinated by the power that design can have, and intrigued by the sciences behind color theory, typography, etc.

BUT—even though design has a goal, it’s still pretty hard to measure when that goal has been met. Was it the design itself that went wrong? The color choice, the layout, the font, the photos used, the text? Design can still be quite subjective, especially when you factor in accessibility issues.

All that said, my deep seated love for the history of typography, grids, and perfect color palettes will never cease.

But I feel like focusing on web development, and even website strategy, is more of my happy place.

Let’s say I build a website with a shop. This site needs to list products, allow people to add them to a cart, input their payment method, verify that and place the order. Then, the shop needs to get a notificationo of the new order and all of the appropriate order details, shipping information, etc. This kind of thing either WORKS, or it DOESN’T. There’s no design feedback like “well I don’t like this color” or “we should use Arial font instead”.

Granted, I could get into the weeds about UX/UI and web design and plenty of other things here, but I’m not going to. The point is—web dev is logical, functional, rational, “yes or no” type of work. And that soothes the ridges of my neurodivergent brain.

In addition to niching my business further there, I do feel somewhere in my bones that I am meant to be a teacher. I already have a course and write tutorials and hold workshops and stuff every now and again, but it’s something I want to start taking more seriously in 2024.

My main goal has always been to teach more, and make it as accessible as possible, so that’s where I’m putting more of my energy now.

I’m taking some time to assess what that looks like, but I’m hoping to hit the ground running soon.

And now finally for the entire point of this post—to announce a new and maybe surprising endeavor…

Shoutout Dream Prague, one of my favorite Youtube channels

I’m going to teach English in Prague, CZ! 🥳

I am currently in the process of getting my TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification. This was not only a move to secure my Czech visa, but also a personal passion of mine.

I LOVED English class as a kid (and my Spanish class for that matter), and thrived on getting 100+ max scores on all of my grammar and vocabulary tests. (Shout out Mrs. Venettozzi and Mrs. Saltmarsh)

Comprehension came pretty naturally to me, but I also found learning new words and the structure of languages to be fascinating in general. I still, to this day, read words and have flashbacks to learning them in that specific class.

…So in hindsight, it’s really not that much of a stretch for me to decide to pursue teaching English.

I’m exploring all of the ways that my design background can intertwine with teaching English—like designing my own lessons, worksheets, flash cards, etc. The possibilities are truly endless there.

I’m also exploring how I can teach about websites, and English, in tandem. So far I’ve happened upon a few interesting crossovers.

Teaching English in a foreign country, while also learning Czech at the same time, puts me in a unique position to be an EXPERT—and a NOVICE—at the same time. I think this will give me even more empathy (and undoubtedly, embarrassment), to use as fuel to better help my future students!

Here’s to knowledge, accessibility, growth, and making the world a better place—1% at a time. 🍻

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