I majored in Illustration and Graphic Design in college. I joined the GNSI in 1980 and took the GNSI summer workshop offered at the Smithsonian back then (6-8 weeks meeting twice a week). After that course I was approached by one of the instructors who said there was a insect illustration contract coming up that I might bid on. I did bid on it (too bad business practices were not emphasized in school then. I seriously under bid) I won the contract and did the work (pen & ink beetle head and elitron outlines). From then on I continued getting opportunities to bid on illustration contracts at the museum and do freelance jobs outside when other illustrators would tell me about them. Staff illustrators were my best references.
My first salaried employment at a full-time position was made possible again by word of mouth. An Illustrator at the museum knew a graphics person at NASA who was was looking for a temporary maternity replacement for one of their designers. Because of my extensive volunteer work on GNSI projects and interest in the reproduction of my work, I was in a good position to fulfill their needs. I joined the NASA Goddard Graphics group in 1992. I did very little illustration for six years. I stayed on after the maternity leave (I was doing a good job!) and have been working at Goddard ever since, but managed to get myself into a group where I have many varied responsibilities related to public outreach, but definitely more illustration.