June 9, 2015 | Advice

So You’re a Recent Design School Grad…

We asked our design team what their #1 piece of design advice was for recent grads, and here’s what they said…

Be genuine

“Every job application process is a little different. As an eager, wide-eyed post-grad, you may find yourself sending out your cover letter, resume, and portfolio to every studio, shop, and agency in town. You’ve gotten your “about me” down to short paragraph and picked out a few things from the company’s website that you’ll mention to show you did your research. Copy, paste. Copy, paste. DON’T BE A ROBOT! Be genuine and if you find you’re not being yourself in an application then maybe it’s not a good fit. Know your personality and design strengths, and apply for jobs in a way that is true to you while showing the company you really did the research and are the best candidate for the position.”

-Julie Sebby, Visual Virtuosa


Start networking

“Get out and meet as many people currently in the industry as possible. Go to design-related events, studio crawls, etc. Mingle where the designers mingle and start to get your name out there. Whatever you do, don’t downplay any of your new connections if they don’t work at a company that you are chasing after. The design community in KC is small and incestuous and chances are highly likely that your new friend used to work there or knows someone who works there.”

-Clifton Alexander, Owner/Creative Chuck Norris


Design your portfolio

“You’ve worked hard to make sure the work in your portfolio is top-notch, but the job’s not done. How you present your work is just as important as the projects you choose to show in it. This goes for your physical book as well as your web presence. If you don’t treat your portfolio like the projects you put in it, your talent and hard work could be overlooked by an employer. Show that your work isn’t just pretty. Explain your process and what problems you solved. And for lack of a better term, “brand” yourself. That doesn’t mean you have to make a monogram of your name. Just find a consistent look that represents you. Carry it throughout your book, website and anything else you use to market yourself.”

-Travis Stewart, Creative Renegade


Ace the interview

“Interviews are about fit. If you are sitting in the room, your work is good. That doesn’t mean you can slack off on your portfolio (see Travis’s note above) because that’s when I get to really see your craft and how well you can present yourself. It’s important, but it’s not the reason you are there. Show them what makes you tick. Tell them that you know more than just the field of design. What makes you take a different approach to the problem? Everything you do affects your design thinking. Play it up.”

-Chase Wilson, Regional Global Activator