View Full Version : Help me plan ahead!

I am about to start my final year of my Uni course; the majority of it is pretty much do what you want to show what you can do with an end of year show. As I like branding and advertising I am creating a fictional company and creating everything from the logos to future forms of advertising (not necessarily posters etc). If you could help by answering my questions then this would be a great help!

1. I know that when I finish Uni, myself as well as a lot of other students are going to be looking for a job, so I really want to get ahead. Is there anything you can suggest that I do? Should I apply early and just show what work I currently have? (I expect this years work to be some of my best) or should I just wait and concentrate on Uni?!

2. I have been looking at jobs just to see what is out there, and a lot of the companies want you to have had experience; whilst I have had a little bit here and there, working full time at Uni and getting experience is a bit hard to do. Would this really matter or would they see 3 years at Uni as experience? Should I just apply anyway?

Hi there!

I've been in your situation myself, and it is very hard to get a foot through the door, but if you really want it then just keep trying! I'll answer based on the experiences of myself and a few people I know...here goes!

1) You can try early, but the majority of jobs advertised tend to be for immediate starts. You could get in touch with studios/companies with a view of just introducing yourself and getting some critique on your work. This could help you get remembered when they are hiring in future. It's never too early to network. Forums like this are a good start. If you don't have an online portfolio, I'd suggest doing that too. I don't have one live at the minute as one is being built for me, but this makes it easier to show your work to potential employers. You can show work that you currently have, but a lot of employers I've had contact with complain that student work is never 'commercially relevant'...i.e, too art-studenty and not real-world. They'll like to see your thought processes, sketches, inspirations, so a sketchbook or too could be worth being paired with your folio.

Yes, even junior level jobs say they want a couple of years experience, and this is where a lot of graduates trip up. Basically, they want to know you can do the job. It's not just about the actual design. Its deadlines, working within a budget, knowing how to set artwork to correct files, dealing with other creatives, dealing with clients, etc, etc, etc. Things that could help you with this are simple things such as doing a few freelance projects, getting a couple days here and there with a local printers and learning the ropes and so on...and on....and on!

A lot of designers I've come across, have correctly said that the software (i.e. Photoshop) are literally just a tool for the job. They can't make you creative. It's you controlling them. They want to see your creative fresh thinking. A company I once managed to get an interview with, said they weren't bothered about my level of software skills as they could teach me this within a few weeks. What they where concerned about is whether I could come up with new ideas....lots of them!

Colleges and universities are notorious for churning out students with absolutely no clue whatsoever what the real world of design is like. I managed to get a couple of placements, and I can confirm that I learnt more in two weeks in a studio than I did in uni over a whole year. Uni give's you between a month and a year to complete projects, but this is rare in the real world....I was given projects that needed to be done yesterday, and if lucky, in one-hour or by the end of the afternoon!

I would recommend learning something about print and design before you leave uni. Many courses don't teach their students any proper computer skills and you do need to get some of these important skills under your belt. Know how and when to use Indesign, Illustrator and Photoshop, know about bleed and crops, be able to work fast and accurately, remember to spell check. If you can get some work experience in either a medium sized printers design studio or a medium design agency (perhaps work for free!) you will learn huge amounts. I recently spent 3 hours helping a student sort their file for printing. . . .

I think what I should do then is really work on my portfolio some more and really learn what I need to know before I apply anywhere as I guess it is quite essential! I may start apply before I actually finish Uni though to try and get a head start; I want to spend as little time as possible just job hunting between Uni and finding a job!

I have always thought about making an online portfolio; I know how to make a basic website in Flash so I might give it a go at some point, but in terms of showing off your work in a portfolio would a basic A3 print be ok or would it be ideal to have it backed onto foamboard as well and have it printed at a printers?!

We have one laser jet printer at our Uni, which is ok, but for my final project I want to get everything printed professionally. My main lecturer owns their own company so I guess they will be able to help me set it up for print?!