So you just got your degree in design and you are ready to go to work; life is good and you are feeling in the zone. Unfortunately, nobody’s hiring.
One very important thing to understand is that a degree in the arts means nothing. “What!” you say, “How can that be? I just put in four years doing what I was told would make me into a successful designer.”
That’s great; learning your craft is very important; but let me say it one more time: a degree in the arts means nothing. It does not mean you have talent or that you can “do the do.” What it means is that you have sat in a seat for four years in front of a white board, following someone else’s formula.
If you really want to break into the world of design, you cannot use your degree to get you where you want to be. You need to use your initiative as a designer and show what you can do as an artist. Hopefully, in working for that degree, you have improved your artistic sense and skills and have begun to see what possible gifts you can bring to the table of a great design firm.
In the meantime, how do you get work in the field of your dreams? Probably the best and fastest way to attract attention is to first advertise you. This means that you treat YOU like a customer. Get a website (hopefully you already did that in college) and design that website to a tee. This is presupposing that you took web design courses and understands the technical aspects of computers; trust me, you will need this. Not only do you need this now, but it will be an ongoing learning experience as technology continues to advance. Get used to it.
Make sure that your website is tasteful, intriguing, and easy to explore; too much technology and your viewers will give up.
At last, your website is beautiful and wondrous to behold! Now what?
Start free-lancing with business cards, fliers, posters or anything that can bring in a few projects and a little money. It might be a good idea to offer your services to a charitable organization that will have a high profile. Get recommendations from all of your private customers and service projects and build that portfolio.
The world of graphic design is growing. With the web at everyone’s fingertips, some are predicting that graphic design will only get bigger and better. This is good news. The best way to take advantage of this phenomenon is to build a reputation as a good designer as fast as you can (fast can still mean years) and continue until your portfolio is so good that no design firm is going to shelve it.
Keep Your Skills Up
In the meantime, don’t be afraid to take computer jobs or anything that has to do with technology; this can only keep your skills up. Keep your design talents in the forefront and use them whenever and wherever you can.
And remember, the definition of luck is being prepared when opportunity knocks.