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Jumping into the design world

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  • Jumping into the design world

    Hello all,

    I am freshly graduated from school with an associate's degree in GD. I was looking for some pointers to my "what now" question. A few of the things I was wondering about are whether it is preferred to have a bachelor's? It is recommended that I should go back to school?

    Besides school, where and how should I begin to look for my first job? I have a very good handle on programs such as Photoshop, illustrator, and so on. However, my biggest strength lies in hand drawings. Is that going to be useful in this line of work?

    Some pointers on how to create a remarkable portfolio will also be great advice.

    Let me know about your mistakes and successes, and everything you wish you knew as a fresh out of school student!


  • #2
    There's a lot of questions here that should have been asked long before now.

    Do you have any internship or industry work experience?
    If you are in the US, entry level jobs pretty much start at a 4-year degree and 2 years of on the job experience, which we recommend doing while still a student and eligible for student internship positions. Any number of companies that offer student internships do so through partnerships with schools, at least loose partnerships. A lot of our most successful interns are actually students from a couple local trade schools. They seem to be a little more invested in their future and far more willing to put the work in.

    Does your school have a placement program or job assistance program or career services office?

    Do you have a portfolio? Sounds like you don't. Not sure what kind of college program lets students of design graduate without an exit review portfolio. A physical portfolio should have 5 to 10 good pieces, whatever you could discuss in person at an interview in under 20 minutes. An online portfolio can have more but adjudicate wisely and organize thoroughly, as people doing hiring won't give it more than a few minutes glance. My own rule is if the site or the online viewer doesn't open in under a 10-count, I move on. CHECK YOUR SPELLING AND GRAMMAR. Typos get you binned immediately. Shows a lack of attention to detail. Grammar, just as important, especially in direct client-facing environments. Can your write a coherent project proposal? Not with bad grammar and typos.

    The entire industry is computerized. While having drawing skills are a definite plus, unless you intend to specialize in illustration work, there isn't often much cross over. Knowing proportion, scale, hierarchy and focal point, as well as knowing how to ''see'' in a hand drawing kind of way is immeasurably helpful when dealing with photoshop work and with layout.

    You don't mention Indesign specifically, unless it falls under ''and so on.'' You're not getting hired as a graphic designer without a good working relationship with that software. Photoshop is an image editor, and often used to create original art as well. But it is not a layout program (except in a very few odd exceptions.) Illustrator is becoming more and more of a helper program these days with InDesign being far superior now to handling even the most simple of one page poster layouts. I just printed a 50-panel (think pages) job that had been designed in Illustrator, and I could not believe how much of my time Illustrator wasted during preflight by locking up while doing normal functions that run in the background in InDesign (like saving or PDF creation,) not to mention Illustrator's sucky image handling and color controls...but I digress....

    Even 20 years ago, a fresh out of school student had trouble getting a job. Now it's even worse. Doesn't matter what the school might have promised you, every other person on the street is a dezina. Every advertised job opening has well over 100 applicants. Due to sheer numbers the cut-off bar on those applicants is usually a 4-year degree. The trick is to find the unadvertised openings.

    Don't get sucked into freelance right out of school. You'll spend more time re-inventing the wheel daily and not doing much for the clients who hire you as far as their ROI (return on investment.)

    Good luck!


    • #3
      Hi Jmorris47 and welcome to GDF.

      Look at job listings for positions you would be interested in and see what the requirements are. That will give you a real good idea of what type of degree you need and how much experience employers want.

      We ask all new members to read very important links here and here. These explain the rules, how the forum runs and a few inside jokes. No, you haven't done anything wrong, we ask every new member to read them. Your first few posts will be moderated, so don't panic if they don't show up immediately. Enjoy your stay.
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