Be flexible and open to opportunities. The job you think you want when you graduate may not be the one for you, and conversely, a position you never thought you would like could be a perfect fit. In addition, don’t get caught up with titles – they don’t mean anything! Find a way to be a leader and make a difference in every position you hold. In return, you will learn valuable skills and build your career one opportunity at a time.
Focus on your goal. If you don’t know what that is yet, be open to all opportunities. Learning from mistakes is vital for growth. Take chances, make mistakes.
Welcome constructive criticism. One of the most humbling things I’ve heard from a fresh-out-of-school intern at Gaslight was to not be afraid to tell them they suck. Which is quite more harsh than the style I’m used to but the message was there.
While it’s important to have confidence in our work we must never let our ego get in the way of progress. Ask for honest feedback, seek authenticity from your peers, expect revisions and never try to take feedback too personally. But at the same time, fight for your work and communicate your design choices. This is a balancing act you will perform EVERY SINGLE DAY. You will win some and you will lose some but in the end, it is worth it. Most of my very best work is based off of a compromise.
Never stop seeking constructive feedback. Because in this industry, once you feel like you’ve learned everything there is to know you are no longer relevant. The creative field is competitive and constantly evolving and it’s your passion and desire for growth that’s going to keep you on top of your game.
First and foremost, find what makes you happy. If you are not passionate about what you are doing, it’s not worth it. Life is too short. Passion will not necessarily bring you the big bucks, but it will provide your life with meaning. Just like a brand – the most important thing is your WHY!
Second, don’t discount “professional” skills. They will set you up for success and set you apart from the 50 other college students applying for the same position. Learn to professionally introduce yourself, write an email with a subject line and introduction, be perceived as respectable and reliable, respond to people in a timely manner, and remember the interview begins when you walk in the door.
Be humble. Be open. Learning doesn’t stop after college, it’s just begun. In marketing, technology and advertising tactics change. Keep an open mind to the new upcoming trends and attempt to mimic the successes while avoiding the failures.
Lastly, I can’t stress enough how important it is to have people skills. Be kind to people. Don’t talk beyond their knowledge, speak to something they can relate to. Try to explain things so it’s easy to understand. Being able to carry intelligent, yet casual conversations will set you up as a trusted individual for your clients.
Never stop learning. Be a sponge and absorb knowledge from everywhere and everyone you can – even about things that aren’t related directly to your job role. This is how you’ll discover what you really want to do, and it will make you well-rounded, agile, and highly employable.
Never try to skip step one. Learning a new skill set always begins with the fundamentals. Whether you’re learning the guitar, perspective drawing, typography, or anything else, you always need to set up a solid foundation. If you spend a lot of time on the boring stuff, then the interesting stuff will be way more fun. You will be much more effective at whatever you are trying to accomplish.
Sell yourself, not your portfolio. Tell your potential employers and clients about yourself, who you are, your story, your skills, and your experience. Pretty pictures in your portfolio aren’t the only thing employers look for, they want to work with someone who fits in their company culture and someone who is a good person and reliable.
Do not be the person that goes after the “biggest title” right away. It is a good thing to start at a lower position because you will provide a lot of value by knowing how the company works from the ground up later in your career. Every position you have will help you in the long run.