Having real-world experience in your chosen field can be infinitely helpful when it comes to landing a job in the future. Not only does it inform your perspective employer that you have valuable work experience, but it also helps you grow as a designer. There is really no better way to learn than to get out there, get your hands dirty, make mistakes, and learn from your colleagues. There are things that working in the real world will teach you that you can’t learn in school and vice versa. By having that experience, you will have a leg-up on the competition when applying for job openings.
By proving myself motivated and eager as an intern, I left a positive mark on my colleagues. On my last day as an intern at Kaleidoscope, I was told that I could ask for recommendations and contact Kaleidoscope post-graduation, so I took full advantage of both options. One of my coworkers wrote me a lovely recommendation, and once I finished my undergraduate degree, I called Kaleidoscope and figured it couldn’t hurt to ask if they had a permanent place for me in their studio. So now, here I am, working as a 2D designer and loving every minute! Here are 4 tips you can follow to land a design job of your own post graduation.
I know this one seems obvious, but it’s obvious for a reason. If you are motivated, hard working and willing to learn, then you’ll go far. Being talented is easy. Going above and beyond, working hard, and having a strong work ethic is what’s really going to get you somewhere. My goals coming into my internship were to develop a better understanding of packaging design and what goes into the production end of the design, not just the two-dimensional part. Having industrial designers sit around me and a facility in house to create prototypes was and is beneficial to my total understanding of my field of packaging design.
If you live your entire life within your comfort zone you will miss out on thousands of opportunities to learn something new. In order to grow as a designer, you’ll have to do things you might not always want to do, but instead of trying to change it or get out of doing it, ask yourself how you can embrace it and make it your own. Challenge yourself everyday. Try something new, take on a new project, and you will be surprised how much you learn. If you come back to the company where you interned a year later (or however long it’s been) with the same work and the same level of skill than what is that telling them? On the other hand, if you are looking to work somewhere full-time and want to start immediately, prove your ability to grow and learn along the way.
Don’t Be Afraid of Failure:
At Kaleidoscope, we have a philosophy of “fail fast forward,” where we encourage our team and partners to take risks and learn from iterative design. Think of the times that you ‘failed’ at something or you did something wrong. Think of how much you learned from that experience. I know ‘failing’ is a scary word, but just think of it as an opportunity to do better next time and learn from your mistakes. Whether it’s as small as remembering what button to press so you do not jam the copier or as big as clicking the wrong link on a website and crashing your computer losing unsaved design work, you will forever remember the best way to do something, whatever it may be. If you don’t learn from your failures, you’re missing out on a lot of important life lessons. Failure is success if you learn from it.
Stay In Touch:
After I left Kaleidoscope to finish my last undergraduate year, I made sure to keep in touch with my colleagues. Not only because I was genuinely interested in how they were doing, but because I didn’t want them to forget me. And you shouldn’t want them to forget you either! Keeping steady contact with someone from your internship employer can mean the difference between “Hey! Of course we’ll give you an interview!” and “Intern who? Oh yeah, I forgot about you. What’s your name again?” Note: There can be a pretty fine line between staying in touch and harassing people, so use your better judgment in contacting your former employer.
I have grown as a designer immensely since and during my internship. I’ve applied many of Kaleidoscope’s creative methodologies to my class projects and to the work I do every day for our clients. I hope by following the tips above and paving your own way, you’ll be able to grow as a designer and land your dream job post-graduation, too.
About the Author
Alex Garey is a 2D Designer at Kaleidoscope and an avid food creator. An expert in branding, copy writing and designing, Alex is a graduate of Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida with a BFA in Graphic and Interactive Communication.