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Jumpstart Your Career Right Out of Art School

Jumpstart Your Career Right Out of Art School

Elisha-Rio Apilado

I wish they used Helvetica on my diploma — Friendly advice from a 3 month old graphic design graduate.

It’s here. That time when all those long, late nights of staring at that brightly lit computer screen, changing the leading, making sure the text didn’t bleed off the page, checking if the images were in CMYK, and most importantly, consistently saving my files onto my flash drive(s), hard drive, external drive, cd-roms, finally paid off. I’ve walked off the stage, waving at my parents in the cheering crowd, beaming with my diploma at hand. I finally graduated and now have a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Communications. Sounds fancy right?

And then there comes the friendly letters in the mail from Sallie Mae, “Congrats on graduating! Now you have six months until you become our prisoner and must pay back your (shudder) loans. Have a nice day.”

Fear not fellow students and recent grads like myself. You have six months until those loans need to be paid off. The “grace” period they call it — And this time should be spent gracefully and art-fully. Let me share some wisdom with you — as it is my halfway mark until I am bound to those loans — (shudder, again). You’ve got the degree in hand that will allow you to make money, no doubt, but you’ve got to remember your talents, your passion for the arts and most importantly, your ambition to become a sponge.

Yeah, I said a sponge.

After being a student for four long years in college, you get to take on the role of being a sponge. Soak up EVERYTHING and ANYTHING during these next six months, heck, for the rest of your life. The money part of post-graduation shouldn’t scare you off or keep you from having even more goals after graduation. You may have to start off tiny in the career world, but if you’ve got the ambition, you can go anywhere. And I mean anywhere.

It’s important to maintain your ability to think up of goals for yourself. Even though you may have achieved the biggest one of earning a fancy degree, that doesn’t mean it should stop there. This is post-graduation! You’ve just been stuck in a classroom filled with other talented artists for the past 4 years. You’ve critiqued piece after piece. You’ve learned what you’re good at, what you stink at, the Adobe software you’re a pro at and the ones you just despise (Quark, I’m talking to you). Your fellow classmates and professors have helped you to that goal of graduating, so thank them for that. But now, you’re on your own. You can now be the art director of your life. You get to analyze your weaknesses, your strengths, your likes and dislikes, and boil down to the top three design aspects you like. Go ahead; get a piece of paper and pen (or a sharpie marker, because we know how much we graphic designers love those).

So, did you write down your likes and dislikes down?

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