The first cohort of my Graphic Design Certificate course recently graduated and filled their creative toolboxes with new program knowledge about Photoshop, Illustrator, Typography, InDesign and Branding. After tackling a rigorous learning experience to prepare you for today’s 21st-century jobs, now what? Here are helpful next steps to advancing as a graphic designer once you’ve earned the academic credit for it:
STEP 1: Stay in the game.
Take that moment of coursework relief, then jump back in the creative job market fray. That’s right: No time to slack off. Continue to stay updated on software, actually use it every day and learn something new.
At an adobe conference some years back when Creative Cloud was first taking flight, Adobe evangelist & expert Terry White spoke about “Just Do It.” This is a campaign for Adobe developers. If they saw an improvement or something that needed fixing, every Friday became open to just doing it. With Creative Cloud online, the possibilities for updates are never-ending. For the designer, this means the software is constantly updating, and you need to learn something new on the daily.
STEP 2: Create an online and print portfolio.
Your portfolio is a marketing piece, so design it to reach your target audience. Create a portfolio and an online presence through social media. Carry pieces of your work with you for clients and employers to see and touch, which is an opportunity to show off your post-production skills, paper choices, color correction and layout techniques.
STEP 3: Work that resume.
Your resume is a living document that needs constant updating. Every time you apply for a position, your resume needs to target that job specifically. For the creative, adding a bit of your graphic design flair is important to showcase in this piece. Keep the organization/business in mind as you add your creative flair because you don’t want to overwhelm employers.
STEP 4: Perfect your pitch.
Pitching is all about marketing yourself and your skills. How do you get good at pitching? You practice. You need to become your own hype man — or woman. Get your thoughts together about what makes you stand out and what you can offer employers. Then practice talking about it. Your pitch is the perfect opportunity to solidify jobs and clients.
STEP 5: Improve time management while cultivating relationships.
I am often asked what is the most important skill for a graphic designer? TIME. If you don’t meet deadlines, the awesome work you did doesn’t even matter. In most cases, a missed deadline is a costly mistake on both ends and can end relationships with clients — quickly.
This point brings me to the importance of building a relationship with your clients as well. Your job is to nurture, educate and connect with your client. Remember to teach and create a strong plan for strategically building and positioning their brand with them. Good luck!
Want to take your creative skills to the next level in today’s competitive job market? Sign up for the Graphic Design or Web/Motion Design Certificate program. Click here to review Columbus State Continuing & Professional Education’s catalog for upcoming class start dates. Also, visit wrighttouchdesigns.com to learn more about me.