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I applied to DukeEngage in D.C. because I am considering a career in science writing. A program that explored science policy fit my interests beautifully. My goal was to focus on how to express science in an accessible manner, and I was sure that I would leave this summer even more focused on science writing and with a clear future plan. But then I had a phone interview (which are some of the worst inventions of mankind) and my future advisor asked me about Anansi. I laughed out loud. I had added that to my resume to appease my friend and co-founder of the skill-exchange app. I love the app’s mission, but it doesn’t fit my future goals or show any skills relevant to my plans.

“Anansi is a skill-exchange app that’s currently in development. Basically, the idea is that I could go and teach Bob art for an hour and then use that hour of credit to take a coding class with Anna.” I quickly explained, planning on moving on quickly to my work with the Duke Research Blog or BASS Connections, really anything but this.

“Oh, so you’re a coder?”

“Definitely not. I just use design programs to lay everything out and handle some communications work.”

I forgot about this conversation in the weeks before I started at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. My advisor did not. And this is the origin story of how I ended up designing a website layout and branding package for a new local science advocacy program. I was learning as I went. I feel like anyone could have done a better job than me. But I also loved it so much.

My first hobby in life was art. It’s always been there for me throughout the years. When I am stressed or bored or anxious, my arms and legs will be covered in doodles of flowers and trees and elephants. None of my notebooks and flashcards have ever escaped me unmarked. Sometimes I feel like my brain only shuts up when I am drawing. But I ran away from anything related to art and design when I arrived at Duke. I am the first person in my family to ever go to college, and all I want from college is to help my dad retire. I am here to gain of financial stability, which is not a benefit of most careers in the arts.

As I reached the end of my internship, it hit me how much of my work was design based and relied on my basic skills in Adobe and figma. I also realized in between DukeEngage, Anansi, the booklet I designed for BASS Connections, and many mini class projects that I had done a horrible job running away from art and design. As I reflect on how useful these skills have been in the work I have pursued and loved, I have decided to develop a design portfolio and work on increasing these abilities. While I still enjoy science and writing, I am happy to have an excuse to return to my first love.