Dear Soon-to-Be Design Graduate,
First of all, take a deep breath—you’re going to make it to graduation. There may be a few tears, X-Acto blade accidents and last minute printing disasters along the way, but you will make it across that stage. The completion of your degree will bring you an endless list of unknowns, but it also presents you with an endless amount of opportunities. Now is the time for you to experiment, try different working environments, find out what you like and, more importantly, find out what you don’t like.
My internship experiences throughout college were the key to finding my dream job after I graduated.
My internship experiences throughout college were the key to finding my dream job after I graduated. Before interning at Orange Element, I interned for an in-house design team at my university. As my first opportunity to work as a designer outside of the classroom, I could not have been more thrilled.
This opportunity allowed me to work among knowledgeable marketing and communication professionals and helped me developed a strong foundation as a designer and working professional. I began to feel more confident in a working environment and understand the importance of graphic design as a business and communication tool. With this background, I decided I was ready to flip the switch and experience the life of a designer within a design agency.
I applied to Orange Element on a whim when I came across a Facebook post (much like the ones you’ll see here) about an internship opportunity and felt like it was exactly what I was looking for. I arrived at Orange Element for my interview with the normal pre-interview jitters that happen when your portfolio is about to be critiqued, but as soon as I walked into OE’s office and sat down at the custom concrete conference room table, something about the excitement of potentially working for an agency made me feel a lot less nervous. And less than two weeks later, I was sitting at my desk in Fells Point, ready to see what life at a design agency had to offer. I knew this new internship would add a lot more hours to my weekly schedule and a higher possibility for all-nighters, but I also knew this opportunity was critical for me to figure out what direction my career should go once I finally had my degree. Multiple clients, new challenges every day and fast-paced deadlines presented me with countless opportunities to become a stronger designer. Having the experience from my in-house internship gave me the confidence I needed to keep up with the pace and demands of the design agency lifestyle. Over the seven-month period of my internship, I realized that the daily excitement, constant growth, and even the sometimes stressful projects of Orange Element was exactly what I wanted for my career after college.
By no means am I saying that design agencies are “better” than in-house design teams; I had a blast working in-house. I got to work with great people on some pretty cool projects. However, I realized through my own experiences of interning that the lifestyle of a design agency designer was the perfect fit for me.
So get out there. Now is the time for you to make mistakes. To find out what you love and also find out what might not be the best fit for you. Be confident in your work, be a strong presence and work as hard as you can. Also, be sure to keep plenty of Band-Aids and backup X-Acto blades on hand, just in case.
A Not-So-Stressed-Out, (Not So) Recent College Graduate