work it

advice column

Musings

Recently I’ve been getting contacted by design students and recent grads asking questions about job getting and internships etc. I am no pro on this subject and think they are reaching out mostly because I work at Mother New York and they are interested in Mother Design. But I do know a little bit about working, job searching, and real life so I try to answer and advise as best as I can…

Back in 2015 I participated in a round table type panel discussion for current students during Pratt’s Alumni Day. It was cool to meet other alumni and see what they were up to—I feel like I may have gotten even more out of it than the current students. For the round table I had made handouts with suggestions and tips for newly minted worker bees (& everyone else) and thought I’d dust them off and share them here.

They are best practices/what we all should be doing, but it can be really hard to make yourself actually follow through. It takes a whole lot of work and oftentimes Netflix is much more appealing or you have another job to do! But it feels good to review this list now and think about what I could be doing, even if only a little bit, better. I’d love to hear any other advice you would give and/or good tips to help with actually following through.

 1.  Keep your portfolio & resume up to date.

 2.  Make time for personal projects!

 3.  Don’t be defensive. Learn from the criticism you receive.

 4.  Find professors who can be good mentors.

 5.  Networking is important and when it happens organically, it’s the best. Your classmates and professors are the first layer, but keep meeting people at professional events.

 6.  You will spend a lot of time at work. Be the positive type of person who others want to work with.

 7.  Be flexible & open. Learn new skills/programs and take on challenges. Be the one who says yes to tasks and finds ways to get things done—that will be valued.

 8.  Keep track of projects. Not just graphic files, but also photos of finished products and results (amount & reach). What was the impact of your work?

 9.  Save letters of recommendation and complimentary emails you receive from clients and colleagues.

10.  If your job isn’t quite right, make sure to keep looking, learning & networking—don’t get complacent.

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