I had the amazing opportunity yesterday morning to sit alongside other professionals in the St. Louis creative industry in order to share we we’ve learned with design students from Maryville University.
As with many panel discussions geared toward design students, we covered standard topics like cleaning up your portfolio, using social media to promote yourself, and various interviewing tips.
However, this particular panel ended up being a little more real than I thought. A few traditional topics like recruiting agencies, resumés, and networking through events were brought up and, being the only panelist who was full-time freelance (until recently), I naturally decided to share my two cents.
In general, I emphasized that even though these topics are important, there are other equally important actions students could be taking right now in order to better prepare for the industry.
Actions like building real-world connections outside of the classroom by setting up coffee meetings with people in the industry. Actions like identifying your unique value proposition (who you are, what you do, the people with whom you want to work, and the value you will provide them). Actions like focusing on work that clearly addresses a specific business-related problem with a design-related solution, even as a student.
These are topics and actions that don’t get talked about nearly enough in classrooms even though they can mean the difference between finding a job/creating your own and letting the industry chew you up and spit you out.