Last week I had the opportunity to speak with local design students about life after graduation. AIGA Charlotte asked that I join other local design leaders including John Phietrafesa of MODE, Brady Bone of LKM, and Emily Walker of the Mint Museum in their popular panel event series called Design Unplugged. AIGA Charlotte student group coordinator Giulio Turturro moderated the discussion at The Art Institute in south Charlotte.
We discussed what Charlotte’s advertising and design businesses are really expecting from recent design graduates. While we did cover aspects of what it’s like to join an agency or design firm straight out of school, the conversations naturally focused on the best way to present and market yourself to get your first job. (In related news, Union (formerly Studiobanks) is hiring!)
I made the point that the number one thing design students should focus on is their portfolio. Students should consider each project they do in school as a chance to get one step closer to their first job by creating yet another great portfolio piece. Students that approach school projects as boring busy work or something they just need to do to pass a class and graduate will find themselves with a very thin, unimpressive portfolio. And that thin, unimpressive portfolio will play a huge role in the outcome of their job interviews.
We also discussed some things students shouldn’t do when applying for a design position. All of the points that I mentioned in my 2007 blog post are still true:
- Never send a resume in Word format.
- Never send questionable work samples.
- Never send more than one file that contains your work samples.
- Never send work samples in their native format.
- Never call yourself a company.
Thanks to AIGA Charlotte for the opportunity to participate in this event and all of the students who came out!