Many design students have a hard time transitioning from student to employees simply because of a lack of preparation. With the graphic design industry being so competitive, it’s important to make yourself stand out from your competitors. Graphic design is a fast-growing industry that requires a lot of skills from employees. Many students struggle with a real graphic design job because they don’t know what to expect and become overwhelmed. No matter what stage you are at in your career progression, we have complied a list to better help you prepare for your career.
1. Go to School
There are very few young graphic designers that have such a good combination of skills and awareness to be successful right out of the gate. Having a graphic design degree is a great accomplishment and many employers will weigh more heavily on the fact that you have a certificate compared to someone else. You still need a strong portfolio, but having a graphic design degree under your belt will be impressive.
2. Work Hard
Getting your first job out of graphic design school will be hard work. There is plenty of work out there, but you have to be proactive about your future and search for it. If you do the proper research and connect with the right people in the industry, it will be easier for you to chase down people who will be in the position to offer you a graphic design job.
3. Figure Out Your Specialization
There are many faucets to graphic design – logo design, business card design, brochure design, identity and branding, magazine and book design and advertising. Find out which graphic design is my passion you enjoy the most and work best in. Having a specialization will help you stand out when you’re preparing for your career as a graphic designer.
4. Plan Out Your Courses
Plan out your courses for what will best fit your schedule and lifestyle. If you want to start working sooner, work with school counsellors to fast track your graphic design program so you can start working sooner. If you wish to get more classes to expand your design knowledge (which never hurts anyone), you can also work this into your program.
5. Be Nice
Being nice will get you far in the industry. As you prepare for your career as a graphic designer, remember that many employers are extremely busy. When calling, e-mailing and interviewing with possible employers, remember to be courteous because they are taking the time out of their day to talk with you. Treat people with respect and you’re more likely to get the same in return.
Networking is one of the most important things you can do as a graphic design student and the sooner you start, the better. #5 and #6 are connected – if you’re nice to people they are more likely to refer you to someone for a job. Keep in touch with your network of contacts and genuinely be friendly.
7. Master Your Software
Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign are tools you should be familiar and comfortable with. Most employers will expect you to know these tools once you graduate.
8. Take Advantage of Resources
Many of these types of services are not taken advantage of at college. The services are there for a reason – to help you. If you are looking for a job, help with a resume, interview skills, etc. they will more than happy to help you.
9. Do Side Projects or Freelance
The best way to get experience when you are young is to create your own personal projects or freelance on the side. This is also a great way for students to make some extra cash while attending graphic design school. Side projects are a good way to add work to your portfolio that is completely yours. Freelancing is a great way to work on real-world design projects with real clients. Use these experiences as a way to refine and sharpen your skills.
10. Look for Criticism
Nobody’s designs are perfect. That’s why seeking out other people to search for your mistakes is a good way to develop your skills. It may be tough receiving feedback at first because it can feel like your work is being personally attacked. Remember to differentiate yourself from your work and to use it to improve.