Risk & Reward

Diana Prakash - Graphic Designer


One of the questions I get most often when I talk about my engineering background is how I transitioned from one career to another. People look at me like I’m crazy, asking how I walked away from such a lucrative profession. Like Miley Cyrus trying to shake off her Hannah Montana image, I too have had to redefine myself.

We’ve all been there—stuck in situation that fills us with self-doubt. Although I’m content now with the decisions I’ve made, it wasn’t easy. I’ve had to overcome a number of obstacles, including judgment and criticism from others. In the end, I see the struggle as a blessing; it’s the hard times in life that help us grow the most.

I come from an orthodox South Indian background. In India, it's not unusual for your path to be laid out for you; parents are quick to decide what you’ll study study and who you’ll marry. For them and for many Indians, there are only two respectable career-paths—medicine and engineering. It’s a deep-rooted cultural belief they’ve bought into, so you can imagine my fear as I explained this path wasn’t for me. The scene played out more dramatically than a Bollywood film.

Ultimately, I gave into self-doubt and enrolled into a computer-engineering program. It was around this same time though that I discovered the Adobe Creative Suite—the perfect medium to express my creativity. Suddenly, through the layers of Photoshop, I saw things clearly.

Engineering wasn't my passion but I wasn’t bad at it either. The daughter of a math-wiz, working with numbers came easily to me. I sought out inspiration else where, applying for design internships and offering to work for free—another decision my parents loved! Finally, I landed a job as a junior web developer.

I was thrilled, but struggling to stay on top of both work and school. Before long, my title changed to include ‘graphic designer’ and as if that wasn’t enough, they even started paying me! I knew I was on to something.

Four years later, I had my engineering degree. Instead of looking for a job in the field though, I found myself looking into design schools. It was this decision that brought me to Canada.

My computer focus got me accepted into a web animation and design program in Ontario. My parents lost it. Not only had I rejected a career in engineering, I had now also decided to move across the globe. To be honest I was just as scared as they were.

From this point everything changed. I was now facing Canadian winters, wrapping my head around the English language, and immersing myself in an entirely new culture. Homesickness was real and I was struggling to get by. Despite my exhaustion, I excelled professionally. I was highly motivated, getting top marks in class, and enjoying success as a freelance designer. It was all happening.

Overtime, I’ve learned to not take criticism from others too seriously. Haters gonna hate.

  1. Never get caught up worrying about what others think of you
  2. Always be true to who you really are
  3. Always push for the best version of yourself
  4. Always forgive and forget—learn to let go of resentment
  5. I don’t have to prove anyone my worth if they fail to see it.

And here I am, grateful to be working in the industry I love. Looking back, I see that I possessed the tools of success all along. I’m proud of myself for how far I’ve come, and for my ability to take a risk against all odds.