I'll be honest, up until about 8 months before I graduated, I felt like I lacked in all things necessary to be a Graphic Designer. Sometimes I would scroll through Behance and wonder where exactly I went wrong throughout the last three years I was in school. I didn't feel confident with the projects I had put out, even though I was passing all my classes.
But then magic happened after completing my first logo for a friend who was about to graduate. Technically he was my first client! The moment I saw the logo and colors applied to his portfolio, website and marketing materials my brain said, "Well that's what you're missing!"
The key element that every other great designer had been using was APPLICATION. Of course a black and white logo served no purpose on paper, but once it was applied and had the brand colors attached to it, life was inserted into the brand itself!
While this was only the very first thing that helped me realize that yes, I was indeed a great Graphic Designer, there are a few other key things I did that made me feel confident and ready to go for graduation:
1. Pick a project you love and expand on it
Include all the essentials you would provide for either an employer or a client. Think along the lines of: Mock-ups, brand guidelines, full variations of colors, include images, etc.
Beer Label Design for Denver's Brown Palace Hotel's 125th Anniversary
Designed by Kailee Nauman 2013
2. Search for your ideal internship
There are multiple sites where companies post their internship opportunities and job positions.
The internet is more than just social media, take advantage of that!
I did an internship without needing a credit, because I knew the experience would look AMAZING on my resume and it would give me real world experience. I found one that was paid so I had no stress about bills from taking time off from work to be there.
3. Meet with someone that is already in your field
Don't be afraid to ask for advice! I met with a graphic designer who has been in the field for over 5 years and he was working for an architectural firm. He gave me insight on steps he took after graduating and how tips on applying to potential positions. Being able to have a friend or mentor in the field is a way to not only get free advice but can also lead to future job opportunities.
4. Look for places you would ideally want to work for before graduating
I call this, job window shopping! Look at potential employers and the jobs that are already currently open to get an idea of what's out there. Read through their requirements so that you can focus on reflecting that into your resume. (FYI - Be 100% sure that all applications are real and you speak with someone currently employed, there has been false postings on sites where they ask to do chat based interviews. Always call someone or contact them through their website.)
Links I found useful:
5. Get your portfolio looked at numerous times before printing it!
This step was so important in the process because if you have errors, that's an immediate red flag for future clients and employers. At my portfolio showing, I gained 3 clients right off the bat!! Everything was well put together and I had no mistakes which is crucial.
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