So you’ve just graduate college and you’re ready to jump into the real world and start your life as a professional designer. Exciting, isn’t it! Something that can really put a damper on your excitement is reading the position qualifications under a job listing in hitting every point on the head, but the one reading: must have x years of experience in the industry. So how does one gain years of experience without having experience?
One way to gain real world experience is to freelance. Whether it be in-house freelance work or working from home with clients you’ve found on your own. Freelancing is a great way to learn how to deal with clients and a better understanding of the design process.
Intern. Many designers try to avoid interning after college, but sometimes it’s the only way to gain the experience you need to get one step closer to finding your dream job. Not all interning is bad! There are many internship out there that pay.
Do not be picky. Even though optimizing images in Photoshop doesn’t sound like a thrill, entry level tasks like this need to be done and in most cases are given to new designers. Almost all of us have done crappy jobs like that to get where we are.
No matter what kind of entry level job you find always know that you are valuable. Even if you are optimizing images in Photoshop or renaming files, someone has to do it. Your position will always be essential to finishing a project.
Do not become discouraged. It can really take a lot out of a person to send out 15 applications a day and at the end of a month MAYBE receiving one email saying they are not suitable for the position. It is totally normal to not hear back from a company you’ve applied for a position once. Like I said early, they are receiving hundreds of emails. If most companies had the time they would almost all rey letting you know why you weren’t chosen for a position.
Never stop learning. A massive part of gaining experience is always being educated on the latest software and design trends. Having a recent education is The biggest advantage a new designer has over someone who graduated on adobe 7.
Last but certainly not least, FOLLOW UP for any position you apply for! Just sending one email application for a position is almost in most cases not enough. I’ve landed positions and have gotten interviews from my follow up emails. When you see a job listing on the internet, you’re not the only one seeing it. Companies are receiving a very high volume of resumes at the same time, so by following up you have a greater chance of really having your resume read over instead of being quickly glanced at.
For those of you who have been in the industry for awhile, how did you land your first job, and what advice can you offer to design graduates who do not have enough or any real world experience?