1. Build Your Portfolio
Anyone you ask will say that this is so important. Having a great portfolio with strong design pieces will set you apart and open many doors for you. I would suggest keeping your eyes peeled in your community and offer design services to small businesses that you think could use a re-brand.
2. Join AIGA
Howdesign.com sums this point up very well, “If you’re missing that sense of design community you had in school now that you’re in the professional world, AIGA will help reconnect you for life.” I have enjoyed many great events through my local Raleigh AIGA chapter and highly recommend joining to anyone looking to network and build relationships with fellow designers.
3. Value Your Work
Setting an hourly rate for your services is a great idea starting out. Just because you are a young professional doesn’t mean you must undervalue your work. Clients can recognize great work and want to compensate you for your efforts. Also, you will be more motivated and inclined to do a great job since this is your livelihood.
4. It’s Okay to Make Mistakes
Getting out of you comfort zone and trying something new could have great payoff. Even if you aren’t totally happy with the result you can learn a lot from the failures. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes learn from them!
5. There is Always Someone Better
theultralinx.com says this not to scare you but to motivate you to keep moving forward. Too much time can be wasted thinking about all of the other designers out there that are better than you. Focus on your work and your own skills and improving them. With that being said, keep in mind that there’s always someone waiting to swoop in so make sure you are staying at the top of your game.
6. Get a Clean, Simple, Website Up
This is such an important one. Having a digital presence is vital. Most recently I presented my online portfolio at a design interview and got the job as a result. keep your portfolio clean, simple, and make sure it showcases your work. There are several platforms out there that are easy to use, whether it’s Wix, Squarspace, WordPress, Behance, Carbonmade, or one of the many others, don’t be afraid to inject a little personal touch to help the employer get to know you as a person and designer.
7. Do as Many Internships as you can Stand
I did four internships this past year, life was a little crazy but I grew so much as a designer and highly recommend doing as many internships as you can. Having work in your portfolio for real-world clients that actually exists is incredible and invaluable. The experience alone is great on a resume since most design jobs require at least some experience to start. I learned so much about the design process and cultivated new techniques and skills, I would highly recommend doing at least one internship if you can.
8. Don’t be Afraid of Print Design
Many might say the print industry is dying but it’s not dead yet! Knowing the print process is a marketable skill that can set you apart from a lot of designers. Knowing how to set up a document with bleeds and trims for print is a skill worth knowing.
9. Be Patient
You may not get the job of your dreams right when you graduate. That’s totally okay, you might need to do some freelance work in the meantime. The most important thing is to never give up on yourself and your goals.
10. Ask Questions
You’re not expected to know everything, especially when starting a new job or internship. Asking questions is okay and actually can save time. Your co-workers won’t mind and you might even get to know them better if they help you and teach you something new.
What are some other tips to design by? Let me know in the comments below.