1. University is a lot different from the real world.
Studying for four years in Uni made me feel like I know enough to be able to provide top quality designs to future clients if I were to pursue a free-lance career. I have never been so wrong. The things I learnt from Uni are so different from what I’ve been learning on the job. If you are thinking of free-lancing after graduation, that’s cool. I would suggest however that you try working for a design agency even for a short time. It’s going to be a big help as you start a career in design!
2. You’ll grow – one project after another.
The amount of knowledge I gained in six months on the job is probably something I would not be able to learn in two years of university. There are things I would not have known or learnt if I went straight into free-lancing. As I go from one project to another at work, I get exposed to varied scenarios and requirements. These help me become more capable of thinking outside the box and learn more. What one would gain on the job are very valuable skills and experiences for when one decides to go independent in the future.
3. You are never too _____ to share your thoughts.
I felt a tad bit nervous and shy when I first started working because I was the youngest person in the team. I thought everyone else was more capable and more experienced than I was, so I kept my opinions to a minimum. Looking back to when I first started, I now feel silly thinking the way I did before. Everyone has own skill set and expertise to share. I have become more out-spoken since and I am now showing my colleagues new ways (things I learnt from Uni) of promoting our company.
4. Learning does not end once you graduate.
Learning new methods of design is imperative. It is helpful to constantly look through designs online to freshen up one’s perspective. When creating a brand logo or design for a new (or an existing) client, it is important to get to know the client’s business and preferences, study their market as well as their competitors and take off from there. The design processes and methods evolve.
5. Deadlines are sacred.
You remember those days when you applied for extensions because you were sick or just couldn’t find the motivation and drive to work on your project? Well, missing a deadline might mean losing a client so don’t even go there. Plan ahead of time, start on your project long before it is due. Make sure to provide time for unaccounted delays during printing or shipping. Remember, anything can happen. Delays do happen.
6. Results matter = attitude matter.
Results and people skills go hand in hand. It is easy to sell your skills and portfolio to potential clients, but once you’ve got them, delivering quality output and good customer service matter. Clients will come back for more jobs if you did a good job, and more importantly, if they are treated well. Let’s be real, you would probably get difficult clients every now and then. Patience is key to be able to put up with them, recognise their ideas and help them see other possibilities. Suggest, don’t impose. Keep in mind that not all people think the way designers do – that might help make you be more empathetic towards your clients. Who knows – your patience might pay off in the end as you get really good feedback or recommendations to clients’ friends and associate.
Hope this helps!