Advice for Aspiring Designers

From time to time, we have students or recent graduates stop by the office for a tour or a shadow day. These usually go well with the student asking miscellaneous amounts of questions and gleaning some insight to the daily lives of a designers or programmer. A few months ago, we changed it up and had a question and answer session of sorts with the million dollar question coming up, “what advice do you have for me?” Of course, everyone jumped on the opportunity to impart some sage advice to this receptive mind.

The other day I came across an article on Smashing Magazine in which a group of distinguished designers/developers/freelancers shared their answers to some common questions by students. This reminded me of the student’s question, I mention above, and left me wondering why don’t I share these tidbits with the rest of the world. Without any further ado, here are some of those pearls of wisdom:

- Extend your learning beyond your class curriculum. Having passion for your work will help you blur the line between classwork time and time spent ambitiously learning new things after hours. Experiment and challenge yourself. Make up your own projects.
- I will never knock on academic design courses. I firmly believe you grow more with actual experience, but you also learn a lot about theory, social experience, and technical practices through courses. It’s hard to believe (and at the time I was a little embarrassed), but I didn’t even know how to use a Mac when I became a graphic design student *gasp*!
- Be willing to learn things outside your comfort zone or area of expertise. The broader your skill-set, the more likely you will find yourself qualified for a larger number of jobs. I am familiar with the saying “jack of all trades, master of none,” so take the time to comprehend what you are learning about. Even a well-rounded, general understanding of a topic will help you as you work with a team of professionals.
- Get involved with the community of like professionals. Network. Learn from them, interact with them, and contribute where applicable.
- Even after school, do not stop learning. You will never know all there is to know as there is always something new to try and technology is always advancing.
- Find resources that inspire you. There are more and more design-centric websites to spur new ideas. A few examples include:

You can read the full article at this link http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/02/17/group-interview-advice-for-students-and-new-designers/.

So what type of advice would you share with a student? Leave a comment sharing your advice.

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One Response to “Advice for Aspiring Designers”

  • Brittney O Says:

    This is a great article!

    My advice would be to always listen and be open to your superiors, whether it be your professors, upperclassmen, co-workers or senior art directors. Typically this group of people has been “in the biz” for quite some time. You can learn so much more from them if you listen to their opinions and criticisms in a molding and learning sort of way. They are setting you up for success, not failure. I have often experienced designers that become quite defensive and they take criticism in a bad way. Just remember that not all criticism is harsh, it can constructive! They are preparing you to hold yourself up to the highest standards and potential so that your designs can be the best!

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