3 years ago on the 20th May, 7 days before reaching 19, I was in the passenger seat of my mums car donning an oxford shirt and blazer combo, about to embark on the first day of my apprenticeship in the design industry.
And the rest is history.
I was an incredibly fortunate young man at that time. I left college equipped with a National Diploma in Graphic Design and a slightly warped perception of what it meant to be a designer, along with a credulous, 'know-it-all' disposition only an 'invincible' late-teen could possess. But as it turns out, reality is fabulous thing. Sure, your perch had a great view, but now you've got to hit the ground running.
I've applied for hundreds of jobs...
Vanilla is a fairly safe option when buying ice cream, correct? But it's not as good as mint, raspberry or neapolitan. There's always a reason that agency hasn't replied to your email. You might have kicked things off with a CV that was made off the cuff in one of your coffee fuelled bursts of desperation and to a Creative Director that's just like a limp handshake. Designers don't need CVs when your portfolio speaks for itself. Fill it with practical, commercially-aware projects and designs that tackle a believable problem, or tricky briefs. Go out of your comfort zone, create a solution for something that doesn't mean anything to you, ask someone who knows nothing about design if they could convey or understand what you're trying to communicate. How you think is different to how you design, processes and applications can be taught, creativity cannot, and breaking into an industry saturated with overzealous graduates and apprentices, yours needs to be a cut above.
I've included links at the bottom of this post to the types of briefs that you may come across as a designer - take on one and keep pulling your hair out until it's right, for a bit of practice...
Think big, start small, move fast.
So you landed the dismount and scored higher than your competition, the first hurdle is getting yourself accepted into the clan. The likelihood is you're not better, wiser or higher up in the food chain than any of the tribe members, so assume you're the runt of the litter - the quicker you know your place the better off you'll be. Don't be an arsehole. Be polite, humble, and take any work you're given and do it with a good attitude.
IQ get's you through school, EQ get's you through life.
Mothers teach you to crawl, Fathers teach you to rise or fall, and if there's one thing i've learnt from my dad, it's that attitude is everything. IQ is the tip of the iceberg, EQ, (emotional quotient) is that big old chunk that's hidden underneath, and it's the most powerful weapon in your arsenal. Attitude guides your thinking and behaviour and helps you manage your emotions to achieve your goals. If your attitude is wrong, your environment follows suit.
Studies have shown that people with high emotional intelligence have greater mental health, job performance and leadership skills, so roll your sleeves up, laugh often and get stuck in.
Teamwork makes the dream work
Don't be that guy on Fifa that tries to make the run through three defenders on your own when your pal is clearly in on goal. You're allowed to struggle but throwing your hands in the air and playing dumb doesn't help the overall achievement. The client is still paying, the work still needs doing and you're still part of that team. Let me refer to my previous statement; don't be an arsehole. We've all watched on as Mufasa unceremoniously met his fate at the hands of Scar, and the ensuing, lasting, bitter resentment that hit us right in the feels.
...don't be a Scar.
Design only works if you do.