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Top Career Tips for Graphic Designers

Learn the top career tips for graphic designers from UX mobile and web design consultant Chanelle Henry in this Howcast video.


What I've learned along the way has been very helpful, whether you're just coming out of school or maybe you're changing your career mid-life. Or maybe you're picking a new discipline. I really think that it's important to do these ten steps.

The first one is knowing your skill set. Knowing exactly what gets you excited. Not just doing it because you can, but doing it because you absolutely really want to and enjoy it and love it. And then also presenting yourself in a way that people can see that you enjoy it and love it, whether that's through a portfolio, through a blog, or through your resume. Really just making sure that you present yourself, like, accordingly.

Also, the second thing is, knowing how you want to work. Maybe you don't want to work full time, like in an office or a cubicle. Maybe you want to travel, maybe you want to work from home, maybe you want to work different places at different times that continue changing. No matter what type of work you want to do, there's always something that's going to be available for you. But you just have to know exactly what it is that you want, and then stick to it, and then also not waver from it at all.

Which leads to the third thing, that nothing is forever. So even if you do decide that you want to do something, and then you don't like it six months later, it's okay. Life is short, and then there's so many opportunities out there, especially in the design world that you can switch, and they actually expect you to. Long term is a year or three years, whereas, like you know, with our parents, the older generation, long term was a 30 year job, so just knowing that nothing is forever can be very reassuring to know that as the times are changing you can as well.

Four, is change is inevitable. So there's always going to be something where you might have liked doing a design for about a year, and now you want to do mobile design, or maybe you want to do videography, or maybe you want to be a chef, and that's fine too. There's always different outlets for you, but the best thing is to always stay true to yourself.

The fifth thing is know your value. There's a lot of times where designers feel like, oh well I just came out of school where I just did this, so I'm probably only worth 25 an hour, or 20 an hour. Well I won't talk about rates in this video, I do feel like it's important for you to do your research. There's a lot of different resources out there that are showing you what different designers are being paid for, whether they're independent, or whether they're drawing for a head hunter, which usually takes a lot of your money, or whether you're just doing it on your own. It's good to know your value and also never to sway from that as well.

The sixth thing is to, don't rush. Just because you're out of school, you think that you have to jump into this job because it's like the only one you're going to have, the only one that's ever going to come. I understand that during this rough economy there's a lot of difficult jobs to get, but design and things in this world of technology isn't really one of them. So if it's something that you don't really want to do, what I've always learned is to just wait. And something will come to you that you appreciate that you like. Or maybe its something that you need to change your resume or portfolio to actually show what it is that you do like.

The seventh thing is to learn how to balance. Whether you're freelancing or whether you're working, it can be very easily to be engrossed in your work because you love it, but at the same time, you also need to have a social life, you also need to care about your family. You also need to care about your health. So it's important to make sure that you set boundaries and always know that you have to maintain that balance, or it could all feel in vain after awhile. Or you can feel pulled at a lot of different ends.

Number eight is don't take it too seriously. Design is a field that's very subjective, so some people won't like your work even if it is good, or some people will like it even if it's bad, and it's one of those things where just, even if you don't like it or if you do like it, just take it all down as learning experience, and if you solved the problem, then that's the biggest thing that matters. So try not to take yourself or life too seriously, or you could get burnt out very quickly.

The ninth thing is to continue learning, whether its through books, resources, blogs, other designers, challenging yourself, doing mini challenges like with other designers. You always have to make sure that you're learning. Without that, you become outdated very quickly.

And then the tenth thing is to breathe and network. In breathing and in networking and in having fun, you realize that this lifestyle that is called the design life, no matter what form it takes on, is actually a fun one, and it's one that a lot of people are jealous of. And that's okay because if you like having fun and you're having fun while doing it, then that's the most important part. And networking is also important because a lot of your clients will come from your referrals, or a lot of your jobs, or a lot of opportunities will come from your referrals and staying inside your house, and we're lamenting about not having any job won't do that.

Hopefully that has helped. This is the top ten.

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