A word of advice on overcoming the European crisis when you are not considered European
So I didn’t give much credit to the news before flying to study in Europe, I thought I was heading straight to the promised land, to the place the great oracle of the internet had foreseen as my not so far future ready to be accomplished. Upon arrival to Barcelona it only takes a short stroll to the nearby newspaper stand in order to witness the fact that a burning hell had indeed been unleashed on the Spanish people in the form of a financial black hole and huge unemployment wave that seems to be determined to bring this country down to ruins, and even worse the design industry that usually runs on development and wealthiness of the people like gasoline to a car, is not on a fireproof suit, so they burn harder.
If you happen to be in this situation on any crippled country of the old continent, you are not alone, read on.
“This is NOT Rambo time!”
Every designer is a stand alone army fighting for their right to a spot in whatever it can be given, either go fight or go home, and in my case home is out of the question. This is a piece of advise for unemployed designers currently residing in a crashed economy, be creative, be different and unique, close the windows to standardizing trends, make the right decisions and with a little bit of luck, there’s a spot in the creative department waiting for you. It is possible, but with a careful attitude. Do not go on YOLO mode like you don’t have a plan B, and if you fill the whole alphabet, even better, because it’s very certain your perfect plan will fail as the economy that keeps you here is constantly shaking off the unlucky, every given day.
Save it for mom
It’s a great path to keep it real, but don’t go listen to negative stories of people not getting hired, specially in other careers, if you hear that coming up change the subject for you already know the fairy tale ending, focus on the good old victory stories, those are far more interesting and they give you better ideas on how to overcome the situation by yourself. No one ever achieved the impossible by whining about it.
If the crisis topic comes up at lunch (because it will) and it appears to be going downhill, take a defensive attitude and with a positive smile but still conserving a serious aura, say these words: “I think it’s all relative, when it comes to designers”. Because it is, that statement will make your friends think for a minute later and that will remind them about the truth of your profession, the portfolio is a way to proof how good we are in a matter of minutes and most graduates need to earn this with international internships and crazy masters.
I am not like “them”
Now, if you are like me and you don’t have one of those so wanted European passports, fear not, trust me, the crisis is for everyone, and by everyone I mean every single person “papered” or not. Sure they don’t need to go through the job permit paperwork so employers feel more eager to hire a communitarian, let your offer man know that the paperwork and fees are on YOU and you will do anything possible to make it a piece of cake for him. Let’s be honest, you are willing to do it, he is not aware of that. The only down side is that this is barely legal, in fact some comunities don’t allow it, but the worst outcome could be that you lose your offer which brings you back to where you started. But don’t let this differences go upstairs, sure they can stay all they want, but McDonaldss is not hiring that much either, if you know what I mean. As a side note do NOT consider aquiring citizenship if you are not willing to commit, it’s hard it takes time, only fools like me are on that train.
Respect other flags
If you are still pushing through design school and going for your final year in the middle of the crisis, you will start to notice some students have already given up, their projects become dull and simple and their conversations are always followed by desperate complaints for the current situation, after all they have the right to do this, the economy is not controlled by us little people and they have realized they are better off out of the equation and back into their own countries, it’s their choice, respect that. Your optimism is your flag and will lead you on through the battlefield, but it’s yours only and you have no business in other fights being lost by forfeit. Poeple make choices, make sure yours is personal.
Every day Counts
In my personal opinion, and probably everyone will agree, studying design does not guarantee an easy highway to a respectfully sized and clean desk on the top of a building on any economy, not like other more classic careers like Industrial Engineering which took me 5 years of near death boredom, just to end up going for something more risky. Anyhow education time is never wasted, and so one must follow the very own dream after all, and we design students know that better than anyone, follow your dream, but hey!…do it right.
These are advices for the very brave young students currently in the long lost design paradise, now advice is like a free massage, you just don’t complain if it doesn’t work, it’s free, take it. At the end, it all comes down to you, so you failed, you couldn’t stay, you have to go back to your own country where they don’t know the difference between graphic and product. Well, you didn’t fail, you are back packed with experience, and you know that counts a fair amount good points.
About the author: Santiago Fuentes is a Product Design student with engineering background currently studying in Barcelona, Spain. You can learn more about him at this blog: http://thedesignerexpress.blogspot.com.es/