Surviving in a Design World: What Every Student Should Know


By: Amanda Montgomery, guest blogger

Each year, countless students enter into highly competitive design programs in universities around the world with the intention to develop an invaluable skill set that ‘supposedly’ lays a strong creative foundation and will help them to become better professionals.

However in a recent article from Fast Company Magazine, notorious designer Gadi Amit voices several concerns not only about how he continues to see design student portfolios lacking the quality they once offered, but more importantly if this lack of quality is stemming from the very institution in a position to correct this trend.

Even prior to the economic recession when the United States unemployment rate remained in the lower 6% – 7%, the career path for the design student has never been smooth, the pay is often meager and advancement uncertain.  However these all appear as small sacrifices when one stands the chance to leverage a career from their creative center.

Therefore to enjoy a successful stint in the ‘cruel but colorful’ design industry, entering and current students should heed the following advice and prepare for their future accordingly:

  • #1- Be Willing To Cross Oceans, Mountains, Valleys, and Canyons for the sake of learning new things

When a person stops engaging in new experiences and loses sight of broader cultural ideas, they become stagnant, outdated, and disposable within their work environment.  Programs working with design students must always encourage the process of learning above all things.

Many Tools = Many Skills courtesy of Art News Blog

  • #2- Good Internship Programs are ESSENTIAL

Sometimes when you work for nothing (or for very little) and embrace an opportunity to grow as a practitioner, it’s highly likely that this experience will only benefit your career path in the long run and deliver great rewards down the road.  Never under estimate the value of solid work experience…

Work Hard, Learn Hard courtesy of Flickr

  • #3- DON”T ever be the Person with a Poor Portfolio

It will sting you every time, without fail & without mercy.  Aside from how one designs their resume, this is the one thing a candidate maintains control over and the work within their portfolio should only reflect RELEVANT, RIVETING, and WELL ROUNDED work from their previous positions.  Take the time to carefully select which elements you feature and be prepared to discuss it effectively with interviewers.

The Portfolio: An Extension of You Left Behind courtesy of idsgn blog

During these dark and haunting times, the job market posses a substantial challenge to any one looking for meaningful work.  However when a candidate takes the time to exhibit their work tastefully and effectively both in class and later during job interviews, the work will speak for itself and a nice thank you note will be the finishing touch.

(source)

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Amanda Montgomery is a proud University of Alabama alumnus, and one of the youngest Social Media Specialists with the firm Social Media Delivered. She helps clients orchestrate and execute strategic, creative and successful community content campaigns. As a Recruitment Supervisor, Montgomery also serves as the Intern Committee Chair.  Amanda is currently pursuing a Master’s degree at the University of Texas-Dallas in Emerging Media & Communication. She is an active member of the Dallas Ad League, the Dallas Press Club, and the Dallas Contemporary Foundation.  Connect with her via Twitter, @acmontgomery or at LinkedIn.com/in/AmandaMontgomery.

Copyright © 2009-2010 Sasha H. Muradali. All Rights Reserved.

Comments

  1. Really good tips – all true. You really have to love design, and polish that portfolio to be able to make it once you're out of school. There are so many people that want to play around with a computer for work all day, it's not even funny. Many of them don't even know how stressful and chaotic the field even really is.

  2. Really good tips – all true. You really have to love design, and polish that portfolio to be able to make it once you're out of school. There are so many people that want to play around with a computer for work all day, it's not even funny. Many of them don't even know how stressful and chaotic the field even really is.