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Multi by design: Meylen’s offbeat career

Have you ever thought about designing your career around a purpose, rather than an industry or ladder? Perhaps even working at the intersection of several things you love?

Get ready to vibe with multipassionate Meylen, a gem whose sense of humor, professionalism, proactivity and creative flow inspires me to no end. She finds her professional home between innovative design, product management and community empowerment – especially for women and creative communities. Her career has encompassed diverse roles, including museum administration, teaching art foundations to children, and instructing English as a second language to adults. Beyond that, she co-founded a media production company and initiated the local chapter devoted to female empowerment. 👏

Meylen’s podcast Growth beautifully showcases her design skills and is inspired by Berlin’s creative and entrepreneurial spirit. In this podcast, Meylen and her guests talk about entrepreneurship, leadership, collaboration, and professional development. And guess what, my lovelies – yours truly was invited as guest NUMBER ONE!

Dear Meylen, bienvenida! It’s amazing to host you at Offbeat Careers. When we met for the first time, you briefly mentioned how you used to think your dream career would be in the arts. In the meantime, you volunteered at the El Paso Museum of Art and even worked as a teaching artist there. So let’s begin with this facet of your colorful, diverse skill set. 🎨 Why art? And even if your career hasn’t exactly stayed there, what lessons learned – or what part of this world – do you carry with you today?

Being born and raised in a cross-country community, I was able to see and feel inspired by the contrasts of colors in art, such as contemporary art, and Mexican-American culture – Art was a huge part of my upbringing. When I first started university, I knew I wanted to study art but didn’t know what kind of art. There was design, painting, drawing, jewelry, and printmaking. I began with graphic design based on current needs and a financially stable career in the arts, then I took a few printmaking classes and fell in love with the many options in printing methods.

My multifaceted or multipassionate career (as I like to call it) began when I tried many things, and when I discovered another interesting thing to explore, I would pursue it further. I made a video art and then got into digital media production, which I later adopted as my second major in university alongside graphic design while working as a freelance graphic designer. I discovered that I enjoyed organizing, talking to people, and being a people person, and I gravitated toward project and event coordination.

One of the most important lessons I learned, which I truly believe in and carry with me, is to trust your gut, if you don’t feel comfortable doing something, stop doing it. We shouldn’t be forced to continue what we no longer feel excited or content with. New journeys, and new paths to explore aren’t always easy, trust the process and be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.

You also told me about your happy upbringing in El Paso, Texas. You’re American-born by Mexican parents and lived nearby the border. You’ve witnessed plenty of duality, as well as separation (the wall), but you must’ve also felt that two completely different worlds were so easily accessible! Do you think this exposure to difference from an early age reflects on your career today? If so, in which ways?

Growing up in the borderland has undoubtedly resulted in the most colorful, vibrant, and enriching experience, tasting and living through the best of two cultures, switching between two languages, and mixing it up a bit. That exposure has had a great impact on my career as well as on my values and beliefs. 

Separation also brings togetherness and a strong sense of community, the separation of physical barriers, such as the US-Mexico border wall, brought a sense of identity and cultural activation. In the early years of my professional career, I attempted to create projects aimed at my geographical two communities, bringing together two worlds that are geographically different but are the same in community.

Your main career path nowadays relates to leadership, innovation and design (by the way, I absolutely love everything you create, your websites always look gorgeous and bold! 🥰). What are the best and most challenging parts of working in this field? And if someone wants to pursue this type of career, what traits/soft skills do you think are essential to thrive?

Thank you for the kind words about my work! I’m glad to hear that you enjoy what I create. In my experience, one of the best parts of working in this field is the opportunity to create something new and meaningful. Whether it’s a product, or a user experience, there’s something deeply satisfying about seeing your vision come to life and knowing that it has the potential to make a positive impact in the world. 

At the same time, there are definitely some challenges that come with this field. For one, innovation and design require a lot of creativity and problem-solving skills, which can be both exciting and intimidating. It’s not always easy to come up with new ideas or figure out the best solution to a complex problem. 

Overall, I believe that a mix of technical and soft skills is essential for success in leadership, innovation, and design. You can make a significant impact in this field by cultivating these traits and remaining committed to your vision.

You advocate not only for female empowerment in the creative world, but also minorities (including Latinx communities). Can you tell us a bit more about how you try to incorporate this in your career and what initiatives you’ve put into practice (or plan on in the future)?

When I led the local chapter in my hometown for the global initiative Ladies, Wine, and Design, which aimed to connect and empower women in creative careers, through the hosting of monthly events focusing on professional development. During three years, my talented friend Brioch and I sought the need for such initiatives and also looked for other gaps that could be potentially solved, as well as the need for not only female representation but also Latinx community representation locally and nationally.

Aside from music, one of the main reasons I came to Berlin (almost 5 years ago) to study was to learn the ways of creative success in a place where people were constrained by boundaries/barriers e.g. the Berlin Wall. Female empowerment and bringing people together are two of my passions. I also try to find, inspire, and help individuals achieve their best selves. 

You were also a chapter lead and coordinator for Ladies, Wine and Design. Can you tell us what this was, what your role entailed and how this experience enriched your career?

I had to leave this role due to a focus on a new country, language, and MA program. But in general, this initiative helped me in building my next steps and (getting started) in finding my purpose: to build meaningful relationships, bring people together, and be empowered by other women and people in my community in general.

Let’s talk about career values – especially in the creative world, where career paths tend to be super diverse, multifaceted, non-linear and seen as “crazy” – difficult to organize into clear labels. How do you personally find success and reach satisfaction in what you do?

The creative industry can be difficult in terms of career ideals, but I believe that as this method of working becomes more widespread, such as with design thinking, where non-designers are adopting this attitude that is compatible with tolerating uncertainty and trusting the process.  

Over the years, I’ve discovered that it’s important to accept ambiguity, humility, and constructive criticism, and to never stop pursuing my goals. This, in my opinion, is the biggest change to make — take the time to discover your purpose, what genuinely speaks to your soul, and look for a career that will help you develop the abilities you’ll need to realize your dream or mission. I have enjoyed my career over the years, but I mostly found success and satisfaction in my side projects and bringing my knowledge and experience learned.

Looking back into a path where you’ve made some adjustments and explored your creative vein in different formats, what common traits, mission, values or bind your story? What can you realize in hindsight that maybe you couldn’t see before?

During the year I worked on my master’s thesis, I had the time to reflect on my career and what I wanted for my future. This period was critical for me in order to realize a lot of things I couldn’t see before. As I thought and reflected on previous experiences, the patterns became clearer, values I shared or sought in my jobs, projects, and even friendships. 

Throughout my career, I’ve been motivated by a deep commitment to justice and the belief that everyone deserves the opportunity to thrive. I’ve channeled this passion into a variety of roles that allow me to give back to my community. These experiences have taught me the value of being humble and honest.

One thing that has always brought me pleasure throughout my career is professional development. I’m constantly seeking out opportunities to learn and grow, whether it’s through formal training or informal mentorship relationships. I’m also eager to share my knowledge and expertise with others, and I take pride in guiding and advising my colleagues and peers whenever possible.

With Offbeat Careers, a goal of mine is to empower professionals whose careers others would consider “unstable” or “crazy” to be confident in the way they present themselves to the world. How has your own colorful career made you a fit professional for the world we live in, but especially the fields you work in?

It’s crucial to accept our own selves the way we are and everything that comes with it, including culture, heritage, beliefs and values. I think it is also important to identify our strengths and weaknesses, in order to maximize on strengths and be ok with weaknesses – because nobody, nobody is perfect!

Working in art practices, and museums, experiencing many facets of administration, being a teaching artist, also working mostly in adult education for the school system, and being a freelancer while honing my people skills have all contributed to where I am today as a leader who comprehends various professions, being interested in hearing people’s points of view other than my own, helped me have a fresh perspective on the world. 

I love having you as a guest, because I feel you represent an offbeat career we haven’t seen so often here yet. For example, your college degrees actually match what you do nowadays. At a first glance, one might say your career is actually linear in theme and skills. But upon a closer look, we realize that the causes you work towards, your side projects, volunteer experience and work experience are not only diverse, but meet at several intersections between topics. Do you have any advice for those who feel lost in their careers and don’t really know how to stick to one label?

We are all on different journeys, and even if I could tell you dozens of inspiring things, my best advice is to pause and reflect on your past career decisions, what have you accomplished, what did you like or dislike. Go back to that time when you felt at your most – the most inspired, the most alive – because your passions and your purpose will be there.

Now that you’ve reflected on that moment of career fullness, how do you envision your future, what can you do that will help you to recapture that time or perhaps make it financially viable? Start acting, launch a side project, enroll in a course, and explore potential topics for your first/second/third steps. If you don’t have time, you make time; it is better to act now than to have lived and worked for something you didn’t believe in or to have worked hard for someone else’s dream. 

Labels, in my opinion, can be meaningless; don’t stick to one – managers nowadays are expected to know many diverse fields; we have already started to normalize the skill of “wearing many hats”. In my opinion, I am more interested in seeing what diverse experiences shaped your career.

What projects can we expect from you in the future? What does present Meylen want future Meylen to have experienced and released into the world? 

I’m about to launch my new podcast! I am very excited to begin building my community to my larger mission of empowering and advocating for underrepresented creative communities. Growth, the podcast seeks to showcase chats revolving around the topics of creative entrepreneurship, professional development and leadership. 

Inspired by my professional career and identifying gaps to bring something meaningful, as well as Berlin’s entrepreneurial and creative city, has helped me to fully seek and start creating my reality and dreams to be accomplished. I would like present Meylen to continue encouraging future Meylen to never give up, trust the process, and to be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire!

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