Design Skillz Student Advice
As part of my work as a professor at Atlanta Technical College, I occasionally get internship or job offer notifications to pass along to students. This week I wanted to share with my graphic design students some of how I have pursued my own jobs and sent this to them.
When I want a job or see an ad, I look at what the people or businesses that I want to work with are looking for, and figure out how I match their needs and what I can do to gain skills that I don't already have. I usually approach it as a checklist.
For every job, you need a range of "soft" or people skills like talking to clients, directors, teammates, etc. You need graphic design knowledge and tool skills like making good flyers and using social media, and writing/communications skills in order to explain yourself in a way that non-creatives can understand and gives them confidence that you are the one they want doing the work.
Below are some general internship, entry-level qualifications and duties, along with notes from me.
Must have basic computer knowledge YES, FOR EVERY JOB
Must have experience Google Docs, Google Drive, Google Sheets LEARN THIS TECHNICAL SKILL (+ OTHER CLOUD TOOLS)
Must be comfortable speaking with people HOPE SO!
Must have excellent customer service skills WORK ON IT (in our world "customer service" is often how do you figure out what the client wants and make them happy)
Must have experience with social media/social media management LEARN THIS TECHNICAL SKILL
Must be comfortable working with children and their parents HARDER THAN IT MIGHT SEEM
Must have good communication skills THIS IS SPEAKING, WRITING, AND DESIGNING (and the "why did you choose to do it that way?" question I've mentioned)
Must have good time management skills, ON TIME IS LATE, EARLY IS ON TIME
Must be able to work on a team YES, FOR EVERY JOB
Must have knowledge of working on Wix platform websites LEARN THIS TECHNICAL SKILL
Basic knowledge of Graphic Design or the ability to create eye catching flyers THE ABILITY TO CREATE EYE-CATCHING FLYERS IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THEIR NEED FOR "Basic knowledge of Graphic Design" SHOWING YOUR WORK WILL BE BETTER THAN DEMONSTRATING YOUR VOCABULARY KNOWLEDGE
Answering emails NON GD SKILLS THAT ARE PART OF GETTING YOUR FOOT IN THE DOOR, STILL GOTTA BE GOOD AT IT
Answering phone calls NON GD SKILLS THAT ARE PART OF GETTING YOUR FOOT IN THE DOOR, STILL GOTTA BE GOOD AT IT
Updating the Social Media accounts "UPDATING" OFTEN MEANS "DESIGNING SOMETHING NEW" AND "Social Media" CAN BE PRACTICALLY ANYTHING
Updating the website LEARN THIS TECHNICAL SKILL (note their specific need for Wix above, learn Wix first, then other Content Management Systems like Drupal, WordPress, Squarespace, etc.)
Drafting emails, letters, spreadsheets, and or powerpoints WRITING ABILITY AND GRAPHIC DESIGN!
Creating Flyers GRAPHIC DESIGN! MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A PORTFOLIO AND CAN SHOW YOUR WORK
Meeting with with Clients THIS IS THE BUSINESS PART, KNOW YOUR STUFF, KNOW WHY YOU MADE DECISIONS, REPRESENT YOURSELF AS A PROFESSIONAL & KNOW YOUR VALUE EVEN IF YOU ARE 'ONLY' AN INTERN OR LOW-RANKING EMPLOYEE
I always recommend to proceed as if you're going to be successful. Self-doubt will lose more jobs than anything. The worst thing any potential client can do is say no (don't burn your bridges either!). There are always more clients. Keep working.