Whenever someone asks me what I do, I’m always hesitant to say I’m a graphic designer because what usually follows is a blank expression on their face.

I mean how can I say I push pixels around on the screen until they ‘feel’ right while sounding like I actually went to school for this?

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No this isn’t an Abduzeedo marketing plug. I just thought to share some free typefaces that I’ve encountered on the internet.
Download them for free or if you wish you can also donate.

Noupe – 44 free fonts for creative designers

Benbrushdesign – 9 high quality free donts everyone should have

 

Here are some that I liked.

Font
Font
Font

The interviewing process can be a daunting task. You’re putting your work out there to be judged and critiqued, and this can hit you right in the feels. So how best can you prepare yourself for an interview?

Let’s start off with the basics.

  • Know your work like the back of your hand. Everyone has a different way of doing this, but for me I usually know key bullet points that I want to touch on when it comes to discussing my work. Practice talking about each project and about your process. One of my professors has even recommended to videotape yourself just for a different point of view.
  • Look sharp. This is going to be the first impression they get of you. You don’t need to be in an Armani suit, but you do need to look professional. Of course this differs depending on the type of workplace you are trying to land a job. I would ask what their dress code is and either match that or go one step more formal (never wear a tux). Remember, dressing sharp may not land you the job, but dressing horribly can put you out of the running instantly.
  • Prepare a leave behind. What is this? For me, I put together my resume, business card, and three laid out examples of my projects. What this does is give a positive lasting impression even after you have left. It makes you look professional and on your game. More info about leave behinds can be found here http://freelanceswitch.com/designer/graphic-design-leave-behind/

The actual interview can differ in a lot of ways. But from my experience here are the top questions that you generally want to know and have prepared an answer beforehand.

  1. What do you know about us? Please look at their about page at least once and pick some key elements that you will want to regurgitate out.
  2. Tell us about yourself. No this does not mean tell us your life story, keep the information pertinent to the actual job. For me it’s where I went to school, and where I’ve worked since then.
  3. What were your responsibilities at your old job? I try to highlight key roles that are applicable to the job that i am applying for. If it’s a marketing role, I want to emphasize my active partaking in running websites and creating marketing pieces.
  4. What is your strength/How can you contribute? Usually this goes hand in hand, but really think about this one. Find a key aspect to your work that you’re prob of and can offer an employer. It can be that you have great ideas, you’re really quick and efficient, or that you’ve got a yearning for learning, etc.
  5. Do you have any questions? Yes you will be offered to ask questions, this is your chance to see if this is the right place for you. Some questions I like to ask: can you describe a day for this said position? How do you usually start off your design process? What is the workplace environment like?

Keep in mind an interview is a dialogue between you and another person. This is not an interrogation, be personable and be yourself and remember to send a thank you email or letter for taking their time.

Finding the right graphic design job is much like online dating, you need to cast a giant net in order to reign in that one job perfect for you. In my experience you must do what you can to get your work seen by as many people possible.

Here are a couple of things that have worked for me.

Facebook groups. I’ve joined several facebook groups dedicated to designers in my local area. Your school may have one, if not why not create one yourself. Regularly within these groups you can see people that are looking for interns or new hires. Do not waste these listings because usually these aren’t advertised in major sites and your chances are better.

AIGA Jobs boards

This is the go to place to look for jobs if you want to be hired in a design firm because usually design firm employees are involved with local AIGA chapter. You also have to pay to see more info about these listings, which is a good thing. What this does is limit your competitors to AIGA members only. Not a member of AIGA? Do what I did and find a listing you’re interested in and ask a friend for a favor if he/she could copy and paste the info to you. This has worked for me in the past and thanks to my lucky charm [you know who you are].

The big idea? Play the numbers game, find the listings that others will not find. Make connections in the design community and use them.

You know what hasn’t worked for me? Craigslist. Why is that? Well everyone and their grandma uses craigslist, specially for jobs. One job advertisement on there can garner hundreds of applicants, most of them unqualified. But it’s hard to stand out in a sea of resumes. It is still worthwhile to apply to jobs through here in the off chance you catch an employers eye.

I’m always fascinated looking at the process of other designers, DKNG Studios comprised of Dan Kuhlken and Nathan Goldman bring to life their works in a very stylistic sort of way. Watch the video to see how they do it and make sure to visit their site.

http://www.dkngstudios.com

In this industry there’s two typical paths on what kind of jobs you want to perform. These are the pros and cons to working in such jobs.

You can work in ad agencies, design firms where the deadline is king. These places are full of creatives who will push you to be at your best and help you learn. At the same time, working for places like this can be quite consuming both in time and mentality. You will be expected to work to make deadlines, that means extra hours into the night, and even into the weekend. Meetings in China? Yea that means a late night for you. Art Directors have been there and done that and they want perfection from you.

Working in house for a company as a graphic designer is a little different. You’re probably going to be working as part of the marketing division where you would do email blasts, upkeep their website, etc. You might be one of a few or even working by yourself. There isn’t going to be a lot of feedback on your work, as most people around you won’t know good design from bad. You will be working on the same thing most of the time. However, the upside is that most offices are regimented and there is a set 9-5 hour, leaving you to know what to expect. It is not as fast paced, and you can actually clear your mind when you get home instead of worrying about the project you have waiting at the office.

I hope this gives some insight, this is of course not the only paths you can take as a graphic designer but the two most common.

As someone who’s looking for jobs as a newly graduated designer, you’re bound to be left frustrated. With each listing, you’re going to see requirements of 2-3+years of experience just to be a junior designer.

I know what you’re thinking, how do I get my foot in the door if I need experience to gain experience. The answer is internships. Every summer while you’re in school, you need to be doing internships. Period.

Internships are not a way to get ahead of everyone, it’s become quite the norm. Nowadays you NEED internships and the experience they provide to the necessary experience to employers.

For myself, I had to do it backwards and do an internship after I had graduated after realizing that no job will have me without any real experience. You see, working on school projects and working with real clients are different in so many ways. Internships show employers you can multitask and work with people around you.

My internship was with a local startup working in house doing design for production in branding schools. This was a paid internship, which is a must unless you want to offer others money for you to work under them. By doing an internship like this, you start to figure out some things. Office politics/drama is part of daily life in a small confine of a building for a startup. You also begin to see what kind of culture and environment you can see yourself in as part of your dream job.

Now that we’ve answered as to why you should get an internship, we will look at a few resources in how you can get that internship.

Getting an internship is very much like getting a job, you hunt on the same websites and you stalk all the firms for an opening.  Some websites I looked at when I was on the hunt were

http://www.creativehotlist.com/

http://www.indeed.com/

http://designjobs.aiga.org/

http://www.barefootstudent.com/

and of course, as a last resort http://www.craigslist.org

On an upcoming post, I will review how to prepare for an interview and how to make the right first impression.