You’ve got competition
While judging the 2010 Nebraska Student ADDY Awards, I was inspired to address the student readers of our blog. While Joe has been the regular author of our Hey Students! series, he has graciously allowed me to contribute to his already great student reference.
There’s no easy way to say this. If you didn’t already know, there simply aren’t a ton of desirable jobs just waiting to be filled by design students. Knowingly or not, you have signed up for an extremely competitive field where mediocrity will likely mean a career in something other than design. I really hope this didn’t come as a shock to you, but if it did, there’s still hope.
If you really want to land a great job, you have to want it more than other students. I know this sounds like a stereotypical sports speech, but it’s true. It’s going to take more than talent (and I’m not talking about learning every keyboard shortcut). I often joke that since discovering design, I’ve blurred the line between passion and obsession – but that’s literally what you have to do. I saw a lot of underlying talent while judging the ADDYs, but the students to whom we awarded the top prizes had obviously gone above and beyond in their education.
Winning awards won’t get these students jobs, but their dedication and passion will be evident in their portfolios and interviews. These students – not to mention scores of designers with real-world experience – are your competition. They want the same jobs that you do.
How do you compete with them? It’s simple: do what they’re already doing. Read design blogs, buy design books not required by your teachers, design things not assigned in your classes, and give every project you work on everything you’ve got. In other words, let design consume as much of your life as possible. Chances are, since you’re reading this page, you’re already headed in the right direction.