The most popular route into the graphic design business after graduating from university is through a junior designer position, but becoming a junior designer is a whole different experience. The design profession is incredibly competitive, and getting your ideal job might feel like a never-ending string of “no’s” and the dreaded “sorry at this time…” letters. Although there are many chances available and a great demand for young creatives, it might be difficult to get your foot in the door when everyone is competing for the same position and only one of those people gets hired.
Some people are fortunate enough to find work immediately after graduation, while others, like me, may have to wait over two years. The ugly fact is that doing freelance work or internships (paid or unpaid) is typically the best way to get a full-time job. Internships will provide you with a useful idea of what is to come in the sector and if there is anything you need to learn and improve on – even if it is as simple as pouring the perfect cup of tea.
GRABBING THE JOB
Applying for a job in graphic design for the first time might be a daunting experience. Employers will often advertise a position and want at least three years of expertise in the design business. Being a fresh graduate with little experience may be depressing in this climate, to say the least. For example, the best designer in the world might apply for the same job as you, but if they don't get along with the team, they won't get hired. Employers are searching for exceptional people, not just outstanding skills. Graduate designers frequently emphasize their technical abilities first. Designers who are driven, energetic, and passionate about learning, on the other hand, have an advantage over others. Having said that, showing both is critical as well—the best of both worlds, right?
Preparing for a design interview can be both nerve-racking and thrilling (especially if you have an MD of a company with three other designers in the room with you). You've got your portfolio and resumé, and you've been encouraged to just be yourself and everything would be OK. Isn't it that simple? It is, in fact, true. I overthink the interview process in every interview I've ever had before earning my junior designer employment. I would prepare myself for questions I had no idea would be asked, to the point where I would sound robotic while meeting with the employer. In retrospect, your talents can be taught, but your attitude and demeanour are everything! At the same time, you should probably be prepared to get feedback on your work. You may think it's incredible, but when a team of specialists is there, there will be some remarks. Do not be discouraged; these sensible critiques on your work will be appreciated.
I recall having weeks or even months to complete a project at university and feeling like we had all the time in the world to get it done until your deadline was Friday at 9 a.m. and it's now 8:59 a.m. and you still haven't finished your work. Short deadlines are, unfortunately, a reality of working in the design profession. Don't get me wrong: some tasks take longer than others, but the bulk of jobs are completed quickly. Remember how you worked for a week on that logo design? Forget it. That logo design must be completed and sent to the client before the end of the day. What happened to the brochure, letterhead, business card, and compliment slip? You just have two days!
When you think you've finished a project, before you know it, you're revising, tweaking, editing, and spending hours working with your team and the customer to get the artwork just right. As a designer, this might be difficult since you feel like your work is never ending. But, after the customer has approved the final concept and you have the "newfinalestfinalforsure.psd' saved, it feels incredible, doesn't it?
When you begin a new job in graphic design, you may feel as if you are expected to know all there is to know about what to do and every Photoshop and Illustrator shortcut. After all, that's what I reasoned. Don't be scared to ask questions, though. You may feel like you're bothering them, but you're not. Your team is there to aid you, no matter how ridiculous they are. However, if you ask someone for input, don't seem startled or wounded if not all of it is favourable. Constructive feedback should be provided to highlight what can be changed, improved, or deleted. It is not intended to be personal; rather, it is intended to assist you in developing your abilities and growing as a designer.
You may believe that you have exhausted all possibilities for landing your first job in the design business. Have you considered returning to university? This will undoubtedly put you ahead of the competition, correct? Wrong. Working in design is not the same as teaching or becoming a doctor. The amount of information you have does not make you a great designer. What will set you apart is your level of experience.
Nonetheless, my suggestion is to keep your eyes on the prize by consistently searching, calling, and emailing to guarantee you acquire that ideal job. Simultaneously, don't take rejection and disappointments personally and give up. Persistence is essential! That job that turned you down today might lead to your dream career tomorrow!