Saturday, April 09, 2011

Things I Wish I Knew...

...before I graduated from college.

ENJOY your Christmas/Easter/Spring/Summer break. Some of my best memories of college were formed during these breaks. Don't get me wrong--I loved school and still miss learning in a classroom setting but it was during the breaks that I could kick back and recharge. Some breaks were spent at home relaxing, while others were spent road tripping to Colorado with friends, photographing Italy, interning at a networking company, and doing informational interviews. Sure, you get vacation days from work, but not 3 months off every year!

Estes Park, Colorado road trip

Night photography in Italy

Rome, Italy

Finding a job is a full-time job. As an ambitious college student who was always on top of my game, I thought I had it all figured out. Go to college, network, take classes, land an internship, graduate with a diploma and job in hand. Unfortunately it doesn't always work that smoothly. Even getting an unpaid internship can be hard--sure, you might be working for free but it still costs money to have someone supervise a young intern who has a lot of questions paired with not much experience. I happened to graduate around the time that the economy fell apart; therefore, the design firm that I interned at was unable to hire me. This hit me hard--to graduate without a job. It was hard to view my college experience as a success since I didn't have anything to show for it except a piece of paper with my degree on it.

Staying organized during the job hunt

Upon graduating, I went full-force into the job search--most days sending out up to 7 resumes a day. Following up with phone calls, tweaking my portfolio, researching how to improve as a designer, freelancing, and going on informational interviews. Eventually my hard work paid off and I landed my first full-time design job--allowing me to gain experience in the field.

Don't wish your time away. From the time I was about 16, running a web design business on the weekends as a way to fund my dance lessons, all I could think about was how much I wanted to be a designer.
You'd better believe I wore my pajamas everyday!

Did I mention that I was homeschooled? Moving on...

I blasted through college so that I could reach my dream of designing for real clients instead of imaginary scenarios that we were presented with as part of our coursework. Once in awhile, I look back and miss that freedom to design whatever you wanted. Sure, there were speculations as part of the project perimeters, but for the most part, you had ultimate creativity. 

Design lab at school

Drawing I, Freshman year


That brings me to my next point, corporate design (which I will cover in another post), is exactly that. Corporate. They have their fonts, Pantone colors, and identity picked out. Sure, there is still creativity in stitching the components together to create a harmonious design while still staying within the guidelines but there are a lot of restrictions on creativity. What I'm trying to say here is: enjoy where you are when you're there. You've got the rest of your life ahead of you--learn from your mistakes and rejoice in your successes. 

Myself (left) and a friend of mine at our double birthday party

There are a lot of other things that I wish  I would have known before graduating, but at the same time...half the fun is having the experience and learning from it. My experiences have been stepping stones to bring me to where I am today.

Is there anything you wish that you would have known before you graduated college?

3 comments:

Laura said...

Minus the corporate design part, I feel like I could have written this post myself! Great post!!

Things I wish I knew:

- People say that the friends you make in college will be your friends for life... that's not necessarily true. People can drift apart after college the same way they do after high school. You have to make an effort!

- It's not okay to spend $1000 on textbooks and only $100 on food. Just because you're living like a college student doesn't mean you have to eat like one. It will take you years to break the crackers-and-cheese-for-dinner type habits you develop...

Laura said...

And yes, those mall pretzels are deadly :-)

allieksmith said...

Wow it looks like you enjoyed you college years and it was really good for me to read this post because I am IN college!! I always feel like I am growing up too fast and my parents tell me to slow down LOL.
Thanks for sharing and such an awesome post.
P.S. Homeschooling isn't so bad!! ;)

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