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Tips for Design Grads During Hard Times

Tips for Design Grads During Hard Times

Mike Lenhart

How Much Education?

You’ve graduated, been out of school for awhile, and have been working out in the world. Things seem to be going pretty well. Suddenly, some things have happened in the workplace, and the world, and you feel that something is missing. What is it? Do you feel that you still know all of the things you learned in school? Are there a few things you’d still like to know? Well, maybe it’s time to think about getting some additional education.

What to Study?

Sometimes, there are new applications and tricks that are included in the software upgrades you get from programs such as Adobe Illustrator or InDesign. Do you know about these? Do you know how to use them to make your job a little easier? Well, maybe you can take a seminar or workshop at your local Adobe facility or through a professional organization such as the AIGA. Many of them are free. You can even take tutorials online through the companies’ Web sites. It’s a good idea and you may learn something about the programs you use everyday that you never even knew existed.

Do you want to learn how to design and produce Web sites or 3-dimensional animations? Many cities offer classes in these technologies at a local community college or through a technology school. Usually inexpensive, these classes are quick and easy and you can usually learn something in a short amount of time.

What about something completely different? Do you want to learn how to run a design business or how to get into the business side of design? The same options apply here. You can attend a local school, attend a workshop through a graphic design professional organization, or attend some business seminars through your local chamber of commerce. You don’t always have to pay for these classes and sometimes they can be less expensive than through a large university.

When the Worst Happens

OK, you lost your job. You’re among one of the many that have been laid-off in this current economy. Maybe your freelance business has faced a downturn and it doesn’t look like it’s going to rebound anytime soon. Maybe you’re also kind of burned-out and this latest round of trouble hasn’t helped your psyche. What about thinking about going back to school? Do you have an MFA yet? Have you thought about it? In this scenario, it may be a good time to do so.

Why not taking a look into the school you’ve already attended? Does the institution offer a Master’s program? You know you can do it and have studied hard in the past. Why not think about it again? There are some things you need to know, however.

You’re going to have to get a good portfolio together to send with your application. Most schools require 12-18 really good examples of what you’ve done and how it will apply for your graduate thesis. You’re also going to have to get up to three letters of reference from past instructors or those you’ve worked for. Make sure you get references from folks that can give you a good, genuine, and positive recommendation. You’re also going to have to have a current resume and a letter of purpose as to why you want to attend graduate school and what you want to do with your degree. Do you want to teach? Do you want to develop your graphic design skills into something that can benefit others? It’s a good think to contemplate and it may even get you excited for this next step. Make sure you meet the application deadlines and get your required documents into the school on time – or early. Show your initiative. This next step could be a real boost.

If you already have an MFA you have a lot of options as well. Use your skills, knowledge, and degree to move forward. If you want to try something different, why not go for an MBA? There are a lot of business options out there and the design business could sure use some folks that know how to run, and keep, a design business going.

Education is always a good thing and a person can never get enough. Whether you take a class or two or go all-out for a new degree, you’ll be in the driver’s seat for more opportunities.


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