Rewind 4 years and I'm leaving uni with liver on the brink of failure, but a head filled with ambition, I'm leaving uni with 89 other communication design graduates, from a university that's one of the 130 higher education establishments in the UK. A few quick sums tell me that's a hell of a lot of competition for a coveted design role, a role that I've just spent more money than I've ever seen learning how to do…
It's nearly four summers later and I've been doing said coveted role for every summer since - somehow amongst all this fierce competition for jobs and mass design production I've made it stick - phew! Now there's a fresh crop of talent on the horizon, champing at the bit, with the same shaky liver and more importantly the same lofty goals that my four years younger self set out, and as bleakly discussed earlier it's tough out here - but with a will there's a way!
Every budding designer will approach the industry differently and landing a great role is always part talent, part determination and a little slice of luck - but promising, hungry designers will find success. So enough of the negativity, I want to share with the new breed a few nuggets of advice that helped me land the roles I've wanted so far:
There's a lot of fresh talent scrambling around to land a prestigious spot around this time of year - but don't succumb to desperation. Your portfolio will become your lifeline in industry, it's your access key to the roles you want, and the truest reflection of the skills you can offer. So starting at a studio that you don't have an appetite for will lead to a lack of conviction in your work - a conviction that you won't easily be able to shake when you show your book. Target the agencies you want to work at and believe in yourself.
Get noticed in the physical world.
Having an online folio is pretty much essential, but can you really make your website own-able, does it truly reflect something of your personality without compromising the integrity of the work that's on it - it's a hard task. Make something physical because a lovely piece of print, showing an investment of time and skill is a hard thing to discard. Get yourself out there, poking your head in your favourite agencies. Why? Because people buy into people, you become more than just another website tab waiting to be closed, you’re creating a greater interaction between yourself and your chosen studio.
Don't try to be the finished article.
If you feel you’re a fully rounded designer don't bother looking for a job, set-up your own studio! But like the other 99% you probably have strengths and weaknesses, try to identify these and pull out your best assets in your book. As a young creative, experienced heads will be looking forward to shaping you into a refined product, you don't have to be complete, you just have to show that what you do best really adds to the agency.
So good luck to the next crop, don’t be anxious, there's a fair sized mountain to climb ahead, but like every peak it's not just the climb that's rewarding, it's the view once you reach the top.
Designer (and former intern) – Truth