How to Survive as an Industry Newbie

Want to be a kick-ass designer?  Then read on…

Here are our top tips for students, grads and those entering the job market as Junior Graphic Designers:

  1. Be humble. Having a degree in graphic design, communications and marketing is just the first step in a journey of learning, gaining experience and observing the way the world and our industry works.  Watch and learn, ask questions, Google like mad and be determined to deliver the best you possibly can for every task.
  2. Be ready to work hard and be adaptable. You’ve picked to work in a service industry which means the client is king.  Deadlines will rule your life.  You also need to be a bit of a mind-reader, creative on demand and have a chameleon personality when dealing with clients.  Yes, we’re all creative and, by definition, most of us are a bit ‘off the wall’, but client correspondence and relationships require professionalism.  You must learn to put your quirky in its place or bring it right out there depending on the client and their needs.
  3. Be equipped with knowledge of more than the Adobe Creative Suite. We use the following programmes daily, which comes as a surprise to many juniors, so it’s best to get a good working knowledge of these before you enter the job market:
  • PowerPoint
  • Word
  • Excel (even just the basics)
  • Outlook for email

The greater your diversity of software and programme knowledge, the better your chances will be of adapting fast and impressing your new boss and team.

  1. Touch typing is a God-send. Want to crank up your speed a few notches? Learn your Adobe shortcuts but also learn to touch type.  It sounds like such an antiquated skill or something only for secretaries, right?  Touch typing is a skill that I personally am thrilled to have and want my kids to learn for any industry they enter.  It makes all correspondence and processes far faster so learn that keyboard off by heart!  Here’s a free online course:  https://www.typingclub.com/
  2. Learn to design on a PC and a MAC. You never know where your feet will land in industry.  The more adaptable you are the better.  Don’t expect that all agencies or employers will have MACs so get PC literate too.
  3. Broaden your horizons. Don’t be limited to the degree you’ve qualified in.  Graphic design is just one avenue within our industry.  Learn social media, video editing, the basics of animation, marketing and advertising if it’s not covered in your syllabus.  As the saying goes ‘knowledge is power’.  The more you know, the more skills you have to offer potential employers. It’s also become a standard requirement that junior graphic designers don’t just design.  They are expected to have a broader understanding than just graphics and be visual communicators.  And being a digital native, the expectation is also that you skills will automatically include good knowledge of tech and able to learn new systems fast.
  4. Speed is vital. Speed comes with practice.  The more you’re in the role, the faster you’ll become.  Often the pace of agency life is a shock to juniors so be prepared to hit the road running.  In our world, time is money, and clients demand fast turn around times.  So if you know you’re a bit slower than some, work on speeding up and push yourself.
  5. Be Self-Motivated. So you’ve landed your dream job.  Now it’s up to you to make it magic.  For most of us climbing the ladder doesn’t just happen. It takes hard work and determination.  You need to be your own source of motivation.  Define your goals, have a mindset of continuous learning, put your own action plan together and go out there like a lion!

Good luck!  Sandy