5 Successful Practices For New Grads

by Bradford Waugh on March 25, 2009

You’ve braved late nights of sketching; endured hours of meticulous sanding. You have no clue what people are talking about when they speak of a social life. The years of study have paid off and you are going to graduate!

……Now what?

Here are 5 areas in which you can make sure you’ll be prepared professionally. This article won’t guarantee you’ll get a job and become wildly successful but it will help you leverage your way to better opportunities.

Talk good well

Talking is probably the first step in how you represent yourself in front of professional acquaintances whether it’s a potential employer or fellow colleagues. Knowing when to talk and how can make all the difference. Get in the habit of using a thesaurus from time to time so you don’t come across looking like a troglodyte.

Get Branded

If you’ve designed your business cards in MS office and printed them at Staples then you’ve now got yourself a great stack of scratch paper for notes. A great business card may cost a little more but the investment is more than worth it. Your cards should be eye-catching and engaging. Include only the necessary information (name, title, phone, email, website), most recipients of your card don’t care where you live and probably won’t snail mail you in their initial contact. So get your basic info, your jaw-dropping graphics and print it on something heavy. Your card should be capable of doubling as a guitar pick or lock pick in times of need.

Get an Identity

Google everyone. Google yourself. Google Steve Jobs. Our society is dependent on the web, make sure you are properly represented. Get a Coroflot account, post on any forum you can find. Get a website. People gravitate towards names they recognize even if they don’t know where they recognize it from. Clean up your Facebook and Myspace, don’t give your colleagues a reason to doubt your integrity.

Immerse yourself

Reading every snippet of info on Jonathan Ives or Marc Newson is great but check out photography exhibits, interior design firms, and fashion shows. Get magazines that represent a wide range of design from architecture to craft. Design cues are usually shared among many different disciplines of design and usually start in one area and shift to another. Learning to identify those styling cues and trends before they happen can make you invaluable.

Photo credit: Janis Christie

Screw up

At this point you have just started to learn what you need to know to really be successful in design so you will undoubtedly make mistakes. Don’t be dumb, but don’t be afraid. You’re not expected to know everything and when you do mess up, own up to it and learn from it. As much as companies need wise old engineers they also need young zealous designers. Even though your concept relies on the discovery of magic doesn’t mean it’s a waste. Sometimes a foolish thought inspires a brilliant break-through.

You probably won’t get all these things right the first time so ask for input from a variety of people. Be humble and open to correction and you’ll go far.

This article was authored by Bradford Waugh who runs his own design consultancy out of Philadelphia. You can see more of Brad’s work at www.bradfordwaughdesign.com

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