My experiences as a young designer
Hello fellow designer! I see lots of posts around here asking how to find work and get your foot in the door as a graphic designer. I figured that I would share my experience on the matter.
*//*Note I am by no means an expert in any of this. I am simply sharing my experiences*//*
So a little background about myself. I’m currently 21 years old about to graduate college and I specialize in brand identity and front-end web. I have had 2 internships and I’m on my second part-time job at an agency.
So I assume most of those reading are currently freelance. I am going to cover pretty much how I go about getting freelance clients and how I got internships/jobs
Starting with freelance work. I have found that doing work locally was a big thing that helped bring in clients. I did this by verbally talking to people. If I saw something that could be fixed, a menu at a small restaurant for example, I talk to them about the design and how I feel it could improve and how that would benefit them. This is done respectfully. While this method brings in a few hundred dollars here and there it’s not super sustainable but it’s good side work. It’s a good way to start off and getting comfortable working with clients. If you plan to move forward into freelance It it super important to establish yourself as a brand. I think for this it’s good to have a web presence, social media, and showcase some work that you are proud of that was effective.
There is SO much more about freelance work I can go into such as contracts, interaction points, etc.
Now for internships. So the way I got my first internship was exactly the way you would think. The internet. So I used a website called angel list. From here you set up an account and put in a cover letter, resume, portfolio and all that and you basically treat it like tinder. You just accept the ones you are interested in and if they contact you then GREAT! SO I did that a few times a day getting a few connections and eventually one messaged me and wanted to set up a meeting. I did so and we found that we would work well together and I was able to work remotely for this company (unpaid unfortunately) and was able to learn a lot about design process and print production.
My second internship was found in a strange way I would say. I knew I wanted to try my hand at a larger kind of creative business. So I checked every design/creative agency within a 30 mile radius of my home town using google maps. doing this I sent about 40 emails that were structured similar to a cover letter which contained my portfolio, and resume. I got a bunch of emails back and a few stating that they wanted to chat. I had some meetings and eventually settled to intern (paid!) for a web design agency for a summer. This was a huge turning point in my web process. learning so much about the field to the point I could offer it freelance. This method was overall pretty effective.
Finally part-time jobs. So my first job was actually the same method I got my second internship with. I emailed some companies late January and was able to do some phone/zoom meetings and lock down a summer job by the start of February and was able to start in-house at the start of August. As for the second job (my current location) it was pretty much the same story. Sent an email out to places I liked and was able to have some phone meetings before they brought me into the office to determine my hours and schedule that fit with me being a student.
One really big thing I feel is important if you are seeking employment is to know your strengths and push towards them. do work that you enjoy doing. The way I see it, become an expert in 1 or 2 areas of design and be proficient in others rather than trying to be good at everything. My big thing that seemed to set me apart was web design/development. Places such as agencies if they are seeking someone often times want them to do very specific things.
The big takeaway with all of this is that you need to be confident in yourself and in your work and definitely be able to talk to people and show you have good personality. I have found that just communication alone goes a long way in this field.
TLDR: Be social and approachable, don’t be afraid to reach out to people you want to work for. try to specialize in the work you enjoy doing. be confident in yourself and your work.
probably tons of typos. Sorry I suck at writing.
I hope maybe I helped shine a little light on anything. If not I’m sorry.
If you have any specific questions please feel free to ask!