Start your career and stay relevant in the field as a designer

By Eden Raymond on 06.07.2020

How do we start our career? A fresh start is never easy – people in the industry do not know us and do not know how talented we are. In this article, I’ll elaborate on a few ways that can help you move yourself toward the next goal in your career, whether you’re a rebellious junior or an experienced designer who wants to take another step in the profession.

You’ve completed your design studies with far-reaching fantasies of international careers and working with the world’s biggest companies, and to your surprise, you’ve found out that being a junior designer isn’t that simple at all. Most design jobs require some experience you do not have, and every junior post you have has tens or hundreds of contestants. Welcome to the reality of a young designer. No matter if you chose to be UI / UX designers, logos designers, illustrators or any other field – being a junior is challenging. In spite of all the chaos, twitches and anxieties you experience, there are ways to get through the crisis and leverage yourself to the next level in your career.

The first work is on our mindset

First of all, relax. Consider that thousands more designers all over the world have experienced this feeling. Being “new” is a phase that every person goes through in their lives, and yes, it is also relevant to the professional face. Getting started is always the hardest, but keep in mind that this step will pass and you will be able to find your place. Obviously your portfolio is meager and you don’t have a lot of real recommendations or projects. Your employer also knows that work experience is your downside, but fortunately, that is not the only criterion. Expressed a passion for the profession and a desire to learn, work hard and develop. Believe the reason why you started designing, and not the difficulties that keep you from moving forward and most importantly, don’t give up.


Compulsory attendance!

Have you completed design studies? Be sure you are not. Have you completed design studies? Be sure you are not. The period at the design school has given you the basics in the field and now you need to build your “career tower” without a learning framework. To be better professionals you need to keep learning. The best way to learn is with your feet. Go to museums, and exhibitions that interest you. Try to meet new people and expand your social circle. The physical presence at the various events will not only help you learn and develop, but will also expose you to the industry and possibly your next job. Remember that even thousands of “zoom” conversations won’t come close to humans like a “face-to-face” meeting.


Virtual presence

n the modern age, virtual presence is just as important as physical presence. If you are not a virtual activist, you probably will not be able to leverage yourself to the next level (or even start one). Virtual presence starts by joining Facebook design groups, opening a LinkedIn profile, using Dribbble, Flow on Instagram, etc… The virtual presence is important for finding employment opportunities, for updating and inspiring, for learning and sharing, as well as for contacting other designers. For those of you who want to take the term “virtual presence” a step further, I recommend sharing knowledge. Knowledge sharing will make you an asset and help you stand out in the industry. Open a YouTube channel, write articles and be active on social media – eventually karma exists and it will play to your advantage.

Entrepreneurship and Collaborations

Juniors, let’s tell the truth. Your first project will probably not be a new logo design for Amazon and in fact, you are eager to work with every customer, even at a small cost. Don’t wait for your customers’ phone, initiate and reach the customers you want. Try to collaborate with other professionals, increasing your circle of friends and the potential to find the next customer. Help people and remember that money is not the only thing people can give you. By the way, a satisfied customer and quality work in a portfolio are sometimes worth much more than a few hundred dollars in a bank account.

It happened to me too… At graduation, I was looking for a junior job that combines UI with Illustration and Motion, pretty specific isn’t it? Unfortunately, I did not have Motion Jobs to display in my portfolio and I knew this detail would impair my ability to find the job I was looking for. To do this, I set out to find clients interested in Motion video for their business or venture. I demanded a very symbolic payment for the work I did, so there was a particularly high level of responsiveness to entrepreneurs and business owners. Out of all the people who contacted me, I chose the most interesting companies and worked with. The move helped me to be exposed to an audience of entrepreneurs and to expand my portfolio, and as soon as the videos were published I was able to proudly present the projects in my portfolio.


Construction and maintenance of a portfolio

Your portfolio is your face in the industry. Designing and building the portfolio will determine your acceptance into a new workplace. Pay close attention to your portfolio and the works themselves. Try to elaborate on processes as much as possible and not just display the final product. In addition, your portfolio is the place to tell your story to the prospective employer and bring your talent to fruition. Employers who advertise a design job receive dozens and even hundreds of job portfolios, so try to be unique. In my opinion, a good portfolio does not have to be full of all the design work you have done, but should include between 2 and 8 excellent and detailed works that are relevant to the job you want to get. Consider that your portfolio will change and improve as time goes on and as you become more experienced designers.

When it comes to building a designer portfolio, I’m talking about a URL that can be sent to relevant employers. There are many platforms that can help you build a reputable portfolio, such as: Elementor, Wix or Webflow. At the same time, there are loads of social networks that can be a convenient tool for displaying your work, such as Instagram, Dribbble or Behance.
Get wearable

In conclusion

Your passion and motivation to stay in the field will make your progress. The beginning is always difficult, but remember that the test is long-term. Invest in your relationships and keep in mind that there are always new things to learn. Remember that every senior designer used to be a junior, who after his hard work found his first job and now is your time to face the challenges. Good luck.

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