I am going through a phase in my career and I was asked to tell my journey story. Here goes nothing.
I have had a weird Designer Journey. As a kid, I was deadset on being a Disney animator, what kid wasn't? Then I wanted to do movie effects for star wars... however, life doesn't always work the way you need it to. I lived in Houston, I went to a typical suburbian high school, I excelled at the one computer math course that was offered and drew a lot. Not a lot of role models there. From high school my choice of college was there's HCC and University of Houston. so lacking a real major, I floundered trying to figure what the best way to get any kind of 3D education I could get. In high school a representative from the newly formed viz lab at Texas A&M came to a drafting class and encouraged kids to take more math if they wanted to go into special effects or architecture. Being only a graduate program at the time and there was no way I could afford TAMU on my own in undergrad, I improvised by majoring in graphic design with a minor in architecture. I was fortunate to be hired by local architect who encouraged me to learn CAD which I eventually got to do (dentist and vets offices.. . not exactly PIXAR, but I was on a computer). I eventually completed my degree at the University of Houston and applied to TAMU Viz Lab which I managed to get into in 2002.
Yes way back then. At the time I started the Viz Lab, they still worked on silicon graphic machines, with NT4 being the new schiz. I was stoked however, and tried to do my best. I fell in love with using graphics and learning maya. Grad schools was new for me since I had lived at home during undergrad (with not a lot of family support for what I was trying to do.) I had to borrow and still work through my grad experience which if you don't have to don't try. So many things can keep you from your actual goal in order to achieve that goal. Negative people are everywhere and learning to rise above that to keep going can be trying in particular. Grad school was a lot of still feeling like I was on my own trying to figure things out. It was easier for those with CS background or who had gone to A&M for undergrad. They were in a transition phase while I was there, losing really good instructors and dealing with new tech that apparently had not been acquired yet. (I remember distinctly people discussing apple buying PIXAR.... 3D on a mac!) So, more struggle.
I ended up working for the university full time while I finished my thesis. Something many viz lab students never finish so hey... I accomplished graduating. but because I worked, my portfolio was lacking to find a job and it was even harder once outside of school. It was bit bittersweet to say the least. The viz lab has come a long way in their support of their students, I'm not trying to bash them or anything. This was just my experience as an outsider coming there who didn't come from money or had barely any family support throughout this time all while the program was going through a transition as well. I was still hopeful and worked to try to get myself out to California where it might hopefully be easier for me to break into the field.
I got my first taste of startup companies by getting a job in San Diego for DivX as a visual designer. I tried my hand a freelancing (once again having to work more to make ends meet)
I started to learn web design and UX after working with others at DivX. I also gave up my dream of working in 3D. If you don't have some sort of support, it's pretty impossible and I was tired of barely living in San Diego. I moved back to College Station after securing a technical web job with the University once again. I learned a lot about web design and ended up moving over to the TAMU libraries where I currently am today. I do feel I've learned constantly throughout my career. That's not always enough for some people, but experience is a huge thing for me.
After finally getting to do some normal life things like get married and having a kid, I feel like I'm finally able to start revisiting 3D and XR includes everything I've worked with through out my design journey. I'm relearning software and learning unity which was non-existent while I was in school. I still get excited when I see creative endeavors come to fruition. The moral here is never give up. You may not end up at PIXAR but you may be happier in the long run. I know I feel far more confident in my approach to learning XR as I've done things in my life too that I can check off that bucket list. 3D was just one I needed to put on hold for awhile and the tech has come a long way since 2002 so I feel fortunate to be able to learn it now.