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Your Post-Secondary Decision

Following Your Passion is the Key to Success

Sarah Keenleyside
Sarah Keenleyside
Photo courtesy of HGTV Canada.

They say if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. Mediaplanet spoke to HGTV star and designer Sarah Keenleyside about how pursuing a career in something you’re passionate about leads to the ultimate success.

What inspired you to pursue a creative career in design?

I loved art and went to an arts high school growing up in Ottawa. That being said, I was concerned that “art” wasn’t a career path. I took two years off between high school and post-secondary to travel and get some life experience and it was in that time that I discovered the career of architecture and interior design, ironically from watching shows on networks like HGTV. I liked that it was a job that was creative at its core but had a clear career path as you have a client base and are executing their projects.

What’s the best part about a career in a creative industry?

What I love most about working in a creative field is that your job never gets monotonous. With every new project comes new challenges, design solutions, and opportunities to try something new. In my industry, no project is the same and no client is the same so your work is constantly changing and evolving. Also, when you genuinely love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work!

Why do you think it’s so important to pursue education and a career in something you’re passionate about?

I think it’s most important to be honest with yourself before you decide to invest in your post-secondary education to make sure you are choosing a path that will get you to where you want to go — or at least in the right direction. Never in a million years did I think I would end up being one of those designers that I saw on TV! This is the magic of pursuing an education in something you’re passionate about. You don’t need to know exactly where you’ll end up because that’s all part of the post-secondary experience. As long as you’re studying something you are passionate about, the rest will fall into place.

How did your post-secondary creative education shape your career goals?

My years in university really helped me narrow down my career direction. I was studying environmental design, which is a program that sets you up for several different disciplines such as interior design, architecture, and landscape architecture. Interior design was what really got me excited. Again, it was a lesson in following your true interests and not needing to know exactly where you are going to end up at the start.

What advice would you give to those who want to pursue a career in a creative industry?

Do it! Pursuing a career in design is the best decision I could have made for myself. When you work in a creative field that you love, the lines of work and passion get completely blurred. I like to say that I have a “jobby.” It’s a job/hobby and as much as it’s a lot of work I’m still amazed sometimes that I get paid to do it. The only real advice I have is to pay attention to those courses that teach you about business. They might seem really boring and not like what you want to focus on but once you step out into the workforce a lot of creative fields have a degree of contract work and self-employment. You need to know the business side of being a creative as well.

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