Advice for Fresh Graphic Designers


(Me at work approx. 3 years ago)

We have a new graphic design intern at my office. She’s still in school but preparing for the job market. It got me thinking about ome valuable advice I got from my professors and some things I wish I had known 3 years ago. Maybe this advice will be worth something to someone out there:

• Learn the keyboard shortcuts. Over time this will make you much more efficient. Added benefit: someone looking over your shoulder will have no idea what you’re doing and be completely impressed.

• Stay organized. Files. Deadlines. Emails. Meetings. Don’t let things pile up.

• Seek out inspiration. When you have free time peruse websites, blogs, magazines, your competitors publications. Become familiar with the things your target market loves.

• Say yes. When someone asks if you have time for a side project say yes. It’s OK to say, “Can it wait until tomorrow?” or “When do you need this? I have a lot going on today.” Don’t roll your eyes, let out a stressed-out sigh, say “maybe” and for-crying-out-loud DO NOT say no!

• Do a good job and work effiiciently. Turn things around quickly, especially unexpected requests, like above. Before long you will the everyone’s favorite designer and the go-to problem solver. Welcome this. It’s job security.

• Volunteer and have a service attitude. When you’re not busy help someone else with their work load. (You may learn some new skills.) When your boss asks if anyone has time to help him move boxes from the storage unit to the new office building. Say yes. And then make the time. Your helpful attitude and hard-work will not go unnoticed.

• Say hi and smile at your co-workers when they walk past your desk. Be friendly. Say yes to lunch offers as often as you can afford. It’s important and useful to know—really know—your co-workers; they’re people with families and full lives, too.

• Look for tutorials for design techniques and new software. Know the free resources for stock art, textures, action sets, fonts. Valuable inspiration and also saves your company money. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Challenge yourself. Never stop learning.

• Pray for your company; without it’s success you have no job*. Pray for your co-workers. Pray for your bosses. Pray for yourself—for creativity, for inspiration, for efficiency, for a good attitude, for peace, for energy, for raises (doesn’t hurt!).
*By all means, DO NOT curse your company! Do not say “This job is going nowhere.” “This company is going down the tubes.” “I’m on a sinking ship.” I’ve been guilty of saying all these things in the past. Take authority and bless your company, do not speak negativity over it. Speak what you want to happen, not what you do not want to happen. Your words have power.

• The ideal graphic designer is a combination of creative, efficient, organized and cool (enthusiastic, pleasant, stylish, trendy, fun).