I'd like to point out that if you're serious on design, maybe look at joining some mod groups.
Yes, mock and snicker, but consider this:
As a designer on a mod team, you have to deal with real people across different streams (coding, art, writers, etc) as well as a team leader (or lead yourself). As a designer on a mod group you'll also find yourself jumping in to help write some scripts, or code, or even come up with some artwork.
Hey, you might not produce the best code or art or writing, but you get exposure to how it all ties in to a design. As a designer, you can play in every field, without having to specialise. Perfect for the curious ones, like me.