How to Waste Your College Degree
By Katie Mattiuzzo
I wrestled between the desire to use my degree to become an Art Director in a fast paced advertising company and the desire to be a stay-at-home mom when I had kids — the kind of stay-at-home mom who had dinner on the table when her husband got home from work, dressed as if she had a reason to wear actual clothes, and whose kids were quietly coloring at the counter until dinner was served. [And all the stay-at-home parents explode with laughter.] Lofty, lofty vision, I know.
I’ve been married for eight years and have two children — a son who is three years old and a daughter who is eleven months old. I met my husband, Nick, while in graphic design and art history classes together at Evangel. We were married the summer before my senior year and we love the memories we have of getting to know each other while we were still students. Ring by spring, am I right? 🙂
The advertising and public relations classes I took at Evangel were fascinating to me. That whole agency world thrilled me — the pencil skirts, the high heels, the important meetings, the late nights working on projects for cool clients, the notebooks filled with jotted notes. That’s where I thought my degree would take me.
But I also had a calling on my life to be a mom. It was something that was innate, and for years I had visions of what kind of mom I would be and things I would do with my kids. It was something I also knew I wanted to do full time. Since hindsight is always 20/20 and God is outside of time and space and sees the full picture, I can now see how He guided me to each new stage and I’m so thankful for the journey!
I’ve done the full spectrum of working while being a parent. I went back to work full time after having our first child, then went down to part time, and then eventually quit to stay home shortly before my son turned one so I could pursue a freelance graphic design career to supplement my husband’s income. Work could then be on my terms and I could be home with my son. I consider myself blessed that it worked out that way because I can identify with the struggles a vast majority of moms face — working mothers and stay-at-home mothers. Let me tell you, both options make you want to binge eat junk food by bedtime! Parenting is no joke. Thank goodness for Jesus…and chocolate and Pizza Rolls. Do you EVER get to a point in parenting where you know what you’re doing?!
Seven years later, I’m wearing my navy blue Evangel sweatshirt, sitting in my basement in Belton, MO with the baby monitor on next to me, watching my son bounce around with his active imagination in his Jake and the Neverland Pirate costume, on a post-holiday sugar high, writing a blog about what my life is like right now. I washed a mountain of dishes this morning, pried dog food out of my baby’s hands and mouth, touched up my make-up from yesterday, re-back-combed my hair, and left the house at 9:29 a.m. for my 9:30 MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meeting with a roomful of other hot mess moms. The two newest discoveries that have transformed my life are learning how to use the timer on my oven and the convenience and mess-free, protein-packed deliciousness of hard boiled eggs for breakfast in the mornings.
I absolutely love the freelance graphic design work that comes my way. A majority of my design jobs have come to me from the connections I made while I was working full time outside of the home, so again, God knew I needed that season of life to prepare me for this season of life of being able to stay home with my kids. And a majority of my freelance work is related to the ministry — which I love. It’s another one of my passions.
WHEN I actually do my freelance work varies. Sometimes I’m shooting off an initial concept or final files to a client early in the morning before the kids wake up. Sometimes I forego a nap of my own and try to power through some work while the kids are napping. And other times I make myself a snack, crawl in bed with the laptop, and work while my husband and I watch Netflix in the evenings after the kids go to bed. I love the flexibility and the variety of projects I get to work on!
I struggled after having my first child with whether I would be “wasting” my college degree by becoming a stay-at-home mom. I mean, you don’t need a four-year bachelor’s degree from a Christian university to load and unload a dishwasher or a washing machine (okay…actually…sometimes laundry can be incredibly tricky once the little people start pooping themselves outside of their diapers).
But you know what you do glean from a four-year bachelor’s degree from a Christian university? Friends who become soul mates. Spouses who love the Lord. A work ethic that comes from working to complete something that takes FOUR YEARS to earn. Exposure to people from all over the country who talk differently from you, act differently from you, have different interests, and who open your eyes to so much more. An environment that allows you to explore your faith and the options available to you in a secular or sacred work force in a context that is safe.
In addition to that for me, my degree in Advertising and Public Relations with a concentration in Art for Graphic Design trained me to be a good communicator with my freelance clients – to understand what they want, to know the process of creating design pieces, and to have proper grammar and writing skills. But it also gave me the base knowledge I would need to get so many other jobs in the communications field. Yes, I might need to plead for a learning curve, but I was introduced to copy writing, web design, press releases, software, etc. through the classes I took that would be alternatives to fall back on!
My life isn’t over yet, so I fully expect my journey to evolve, but from where I stand…I mean, sit…in my basement…with the chaos around me…I feel so blessed to have had four wonderful years at Evangel that prepared me for my life as a grown up. Maybe one of these days I’ll actually feel like a grown up too.
Katie is a child of God, wife to one, mommy to two, graphic designing, blogging woman raised in Minnesota but living in Missouri, recording the randomness of life that she knows so many others will be able to relate to. Hear more from Katie here, and on her blog Katie Speaks.