@studiocatherine Not in the slightest! Our printers just require a little extra time.
If the wheels of the design education machine slowed or even stopped turning for a moment, the design industry would take a while to notice. It is no secret that the competition for design positions is hotly contested. As it should be… it’s a pretty good gig. But a young design student contemplating the way ahead of them as they near graduation shouldn’t be daunted by this. There will always be demand for the hungry and resourceful. However, for those passively trundling along the education conveyor belt, through its various stages, ticking just enough boxes to attain a qualification, can look forward to a career bottleneck whilst waiting to be plucked from obscurity and catapulted through a meteoric trajectory to design rock-stardom.
These post graduation doldrums are precarious times. Your curmudgeonly old lecturer won’t be there, whipping your ungrateful Gen Y arse for assignments. Your time and thoughts are yours… no deadlines breathing down your neck. Some of your of peers will lose momentum, become distracted and drift off in other directions. So, before your fresh new portfolio / resume approaches its shelf life, you are going to have to expand your bag of tricks and refine your craft. Because design is a craft, and as such, needs to be practised.
Thoughts turn to ways to gain the experience that the job ads require. Even giving your services away for free isn’t easy. Internships are equally keenly sought after. It’s actually quite difficult for a studio to effectively run an internship program. The Mac, its software and the real estate that it occupies cost the studio money. Not to mention the time it takes to mentor a graduate in any meaningful way. There is also the contentious issue that cheap labour damages the industry you are trying to enter. Consider for a moment the day you are holding down a junior design position while an intern could be doing your job for free. You should also be cautious of a studio that is happy to let you work without appropriate reward. Value needs to be put on your design. Be very clear what you are getting out of the relationship. Start-ups, with modest budgets, are always on the look out talented design students who ‘need the practise’. You will be enticed by promises of more work ‘once the business takes off’. Don’t be fooled. Once you wise up, they will be hanging around the school gates again. I also counsel against going the crowd-sourcing path. What you need is a fruitful, long lasting relationship, and crowd sourcing is a lot like hanging around bars for one night stands.
It’s a dilemma. You want design work. You need networks, but also need to value your craft and respect your industry. One solution is to find a worthy cause that you really believe in. Preferably a not for profit organisation with some sort of profile. Throw your hands up and volunteer for pro bono design work. Use your powers for good, not evil. And you won’t be under cutting another designer because there wasn’t the budget for one to begin with. Most likely you will be doing interesting and credible work that will get you noticed and feed your soul. Work in a folio attracts similar work. And because it’s a cause you believe and have an investment in, you will perform at your peak. You will also be plugged into a network of people that will be evangelical about your abilities. You will also have something on your resume that plugs the gap after graduation. It will be viewed favourably by someone considering employing you.
And in the mean time, get a job your really hate…it’ll keep you focused on getting a job you really love.
Thumbnail image: Creative Commons: Give a little, get a lot – Befriending poster, August 2012. Available here.