From Marine to Designer (Thanks to #AlwaysBeLearning)

October 30, 2016

Johnny Crespo, a former marine, thanks LinkedIn Learning for getting him his job.

When Johnny Crespo left the Marines in 2006 after two tours of duty in Iraq, he thought the transition would be no big deal.

He was wrong.

“It seemed to be an okay transition at first, a bit to my demise later,” Crespo said in an interview with LinkedIn, suggesting he wish he had gotten help right away. “Truth is, it’s been very difficult.”

There were many challenges coming back to civilian life, including a perceived “lack of purpose”. But, among those was something any young professional can relate to – the need to learn the required skills to start his career.

Specifically, Crespo was passionate about drawing. He wanted to turn that passion into his livelihood by getting into graphic design, but he “knew almost nothing about computers” and found graphic design school challenging.

His savior? Lynda.com, as the courses propelled him to a Bachelor’s degree in graphic design. And his relationship with Lynda.com didn’t end at graduation. He ultimately landed his first full-time graphic design gig at a nonprofit, Team Rubicon, thanks to these courses.

“If it wasn’t for the classes on Lynda.com, I wouldn’t have gotten the job,” Crespo said. “I’ll always be grateful for that.”

Crespo’s story – from marine to graphic designer

In 2003 and 2004, Crespo served two combat-heavy tours of Iraq, earning a Purple Heart in the process. When he got out in 2006, he decided to do something much different – become an artist, in the field of graphic design.

He spent six years earning his Bachelor’s degree, with the last three at the Art Institute of California. During those years, his school provided him a subscription to Lynda.com, which served as a saving grace.

“I'm a very visual learner,” Crespo said, when comparing it to learning the skills via a textbook. “I definitely prefer the Lynda experience.”

In his years after leaving the military, Crespo has suffered from symptoms common to people who have seen such extreme combat, including post-traumatic stress disorder. His biggest internal struggle was that he found civilian life to lack the purpose he experienced in the Marines, which gnawed at him.

His savior? Lynda.com, as the courses propelled him to a Bachelor’s degree in graphic design. And his relationship with Lynda.com didn’t end at graduation. He ultimately landed his first full-time graphic design gig at a nonprofit, Team Rubicon, thanks to these courses.

Crespo’s first assignment was the coast of northern New Jersey in 2012, days after Hurricane Sandy ravaged it. There, he worked with a Rubicon team to make roads passable again and to clean out homes that were devastated by floodwaters.

“It felt good to be doing what we could to help these people,” Crespo said.

While working for Rubicon during Hurricane Sandy, Crespo offered to design a patch for the project. He drew up a design, the superiors liked it, and – viola – he got his first paid job as a graphic designer.

Crespo continued to volunteer for Team Rubicon, and even got a part-time job doing graphic design work for them. Then one day, a Rubicon employee asked Crespo if he knew animation and video editing, so he could help put together the training videos Rubicon sends to its volunteers.

Crespo had no previous video editing experience. However, what he did have was a subscription to Lynda.com through Rubicon, and he began to cram. Within a few months, he felt confident, thanks to what he learned online, and the company hired him full-time to be a print and motion graphic designer.

“Studying those courses was the reason I got that full-time job,” Crespo said. “I’d be stuck for awhile trying to learn those things on my own.”

To this day, Crespo uses Lynda.com classes to brush up on his animation and video skills, as he builds training videos for the next round of mostly veteran volunteers for Team Rubicon.

More importantly, Team Rubicon and his full-time job has given Crespo something he so sorely missed since the Marines – purpose. The organization’s mission is to help people when they are most in need, and that’s something Crespo can get on board with.

“Leaving the military hasn’t been easy,” Crespo said. “And, if it wasn’t for Team Rubicon and being their only in-house motion designer, it would be a lot harder.”

LinkedIn Learning combines the industry-leading content from Lynda.com with LinkedIn’s professional data and network. Learn more about LinkedIn Learning here.

Topics