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Finding your Dream Job

Land that 'dream job' with a clear idea of what YOU want to do. Consider the following:

›› What is my dream job?

›› Which areas of design?

›› What type of studio?

 

What is my dream job?

Getting a job is a two-way process. From your perspective, studios may have the tantalizing power to make you a 'real' designer with a job - don't forget that you will (hopefully) be making money for them. Therefore, YOU should evaluate the real benefits of each prospective job (and studio) - they will be doing the same of you. Form your own view about the relative value of each job opportunity.

Dollars are not the only measure of value in any deal: think of other bargaining chips - hours required, valuable skills and experience which may be gained, opportunity for a stepping stone to another position, opportunity to network, relative availability of jobs at the time and in that area of work and location...

In terms of what you can offer in exchange for the job think about repackaging other skills you may have - dealing with groups, team leadership, knowledge of a particular industry in another capacity...

Key Points

  • This is as much about you finding out about them as it is them finding out about you!
  • Know what you are looking for and what you have to offer!

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Which areas of design?

At design school, your study may was organised into areas of technical expertise: illustration, photography, etc. For practicing designers and studios, the work is organised into areas of application of design skills, eg:

›› Corporate Identity - small, large
›› Corporate Communications - brochures, annual reports, leaflets, posters, etc.
›› Packaging - supermarket goods
›› Architectural Graphics - interior and exterior signage systems, 3D displays
›› Multimedia and Internet - fastest-growing area of graphic design
›› Publishing - books & magazines

This view of work areas carries through when employers seek 'experience' in a particular field -they want candidates with a familiarity with the design and production problems in that particular field.

Key points

  • Be aware of how studios think of 'types of work'.
  • Do you prefer to work in a small intimate studio with maximum client contact or do you prefer working with a team on large projects?
  • What type of work do you have a genuine affinity for?
  • Which areas would be good to work in for a short period of time?
  • Are there areas which you view as a long term goal?

Hot Tip

Demonstrate genuine interest during an interview by asking the interviewer what they think the specific problems in their particular area of expertise (have a few ideas of your own up your sleeve).

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What type of studio?

Don't just settle for "anyone who will employ me". Consider carefully the type of studio do you want to work in? What are YOU looking for? When you're doing that, you need to be able to look beyond "uh, seems like cool work, nice looking people and office." Here are some parameters you can use to compare different studios:

Size of studio  - small 1-2 people to large 10+

Larger studios are generally better organised, usually have a higher proportion of large clients and projects and are more stable places to work (i.e. there is less risk they will go out of business over the weekend)
Small studios often offer 'accelerated' learning opportunities but also may a higher risk of going out of business.

Experience - inexperienced <1yr to experienced 5+ years

An established studio is more likely to stay in business thus offer relatively stable employment. On the other hand, principals in some younger studios, have an exceptionally professional approach to the management side of the design game.

Type of clients - direct vs indirect clients

An indirect client is someone like an advertising agency or marketing consultancy or signage company. They are indirect in the sense that they are commissioning the design work on behalf of the 'real' client. Most experienced designers prefer to work with direct clients as there is less chance of misunderstandings occurring as designs and critiques get passed between client and designer. Some indirect clients can add a lot of value to the process by clarifying what it is that the client actually means/needs.

A stable studio will tend to have a 'core' client base that drives the focus of its work eg. Harcus Design does a lot of retail ID and architectural graphics, Horniak & Canny have the pole position in large Australian annual reports, FHA and Cato Design are well entrenched as the designers of choice mega-identity programs, etc.

Status - 'awards are not everything'

This is true but it is a quick way to see if the studio is well-known and respected by other designers, and to understand whether or not the studio keeps an eye on design developments in the broader world.

Key Point

  • In order to effectively work out what kind of studio you are looking for, you need to think about a number of different dimensions (not all of which may be important to you).

Hot Tip

Listen to what studios tell you about themselves with a critical ear - don't be a smart ass about it, just don't be gullible either (anyone who talks about design and client management as being 'easy' may not know what they are talking about!).

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