While you will undoubtedly walk out of university with knowledge, there are certain things you only learn when you actually start working. As you gain experience, you will realise that university taught you a lot, but it didn’t teach you certain valuable skills you need in the real world.
In this article, we’ll discuss seven things they don’t teach you at university and offer some tips on how to overcome the struggle.
How to Find Work
It’s no wonder most students are confused about what to do in life when they graduate, no one talked to them about the real struggles of finding work. Instead, you need to learn how to market yourself on your own and it’s usually after years of struggle.
What you need is to learn how to actually find work and have a successful career as a designer. All the knowledge and the talent you possess don’t mean a thing because, without clients, you won’t be able to make a living.
A lot of designers start as freelancers and then, as they slowly build their portfolio, they can move on to other things. There are various sites where you can market your freelance services so why not start with that? The important thing is to get your work to be seen so you can start a personal project, for example.
How to Work with Clients
One of the things they won’t teach you at design school or university is how to communicate and work with clients. We bet you never even think about it at school but these skills are what will determine your success. It all depends on the way you interact with clients.
When you’re an experienced designer, then you’ve already learned a few things about this and know how to handle clients on a daily basis, to listen to them, know what they want, interpret their emails, etc. But when you walk out of school, you are not prepared for that.
Try to listen to your clients and understand what they want because, in the end, they are the ones who pay your bills. Bear in mind that your client is not a designer like yourself, so you need to talk to them in the way they understand.
Don’t Underestimate Yourself
Experts suggest that you should never accept a very low rate in the hopes of getting a better-paid gig from that client in the future. It’s more likely that they will simply expect you to continue to work for that small amount of money or they’ll even go on and find another freelancer who’s willing to accept even less.
Accepting one or two low-paid gigs if you’re new to the market is fine because it can help you land other clients later but don’t underestimate yourself. Know your worth. There is a difference between building a portfolio and working for pennies.
How to Present Your Work
You definitely do get some presentation skills at university. However, those long PowerPoint presentations and formal speeches filled with complicated words only other designers understand won’t help you a lot. There’s also no reason to be afraid of presenting work to someone.
It’s important to remember that clients are people just like you, you’re not being scored like in school or anything. They just want to like your work and understand what you’re saying.
Designing Banners and Stalls
As a designer, your gigs might often include creating banners, stalls, etc. It might sound easy for an experienced designer but for a beginner who’s fresh out of school, it’s a lot. You need to listen to what the client wants and design a beautiful piece that appeals to the eye.
The client wants brand recognition, and they want the banner to communicate their message. According to this guide for beginners and designers, simplicity is the key but the banner also needs to communicate the right message. Key points to focus on are colours and ideal font size.
Find a Niche
To be able to succeed in your industry, you cannot market yourself as a professional who is equally great at everything. You need to market yourself as an expert in a field which means you should find your niche. And just like with the previous things, nobody will tell you this in school.
Finding a niche and specialising in a field can help you land high-paying gigs and will help you stand out among other designers.
You Won’t Like Everything You Do
It’s the sad truth but you will likely be designing things you absolutely hate on a daily basis because you know, bills. Not everything you do will make you proud and want to include it in your portfolio. Sometimes, you’ll get commissions you don’t like, and you’ll have to change the design many times until the client is happy but that’s OK too.
You’ll need a lot faster after graduating from university to catch up with the experienced designers. These useful tips will help you become a professional and market yourself better.