My First Design Job

AIGA Raleigh

At our September Monthly Community meeting, we proposed an introductory question to our design community, “What’s one thing you needed to know to get your first design job?” Here are the genuine responses from them. Take their advice as you move forward to look for the right fit for you on your first job or as you hunt for your next position. Have a response that’s not listed? Share it with us!

  • How to use the clone stamp tool. I spent a lot of time cleaning dust on photographs. —Mike E.
  • Networking, it’s true. Every time I applied for a job where I knew someone, I always got it. —Jenna S.
  • Networking. Let people know you’re available. —Maura M.
  • I had to have a sense of composition and layout while integrating photography. —Rebecca K.
  • Being familiar with the company I applied to and attending informational interviews while designing with purpose. —Allison H.
  • “Can you make a banner?” Yes! — I.J.
  • As a current student, I will need to know how to present myself in a confident manner. —Rachel M.
  • I need to know what’s available to me, my resources and find out what I’m interested in. —Morgan L.
  • Relationships are what helped me get my freelance jobs; it’s all about knowing people. —Ethan G.
  • Know what you’re passionate about and what would make you want to stay [on your job]. —Hayley H.
  • I had to know HTML and CSS.—Kezra C.
  • How to sell myself and make a good impression in a new geographical location —Tim S.
  • Doing your research: be knowledgeable about the company you’re applying for. —Doug V.
  • The recruiter wanted to see handmade work and my process—so many people go straight to the computer. —Kathleen A.
  • I had to be knowledgeable of Dreamweaver. — Matt B.
  • Editorial layout and hierarchy enabled my portfolio to stand out. —Kristin C.
  • Have confidence in your work and capability as a designer. —Michal H.
  • Being able to present and show evidence of my ability to think and concept, before beginning on the computer. —Dana G.
  • I was the only one, when I applied, who had completed a prototype for a touch screen. — Margaret M.
  • Clipping masks saved me. —Megan G.
  • I had to have the ability to present my portfolio and showcase my versatility and skills such as photography. —Liz M.
  • Adobe Creative Suite, hands down. —Nicole Y.
  • Flash 4 —Andretti B.
  • Quark — Jason H.
  • I had to know how to make other people look good while doing things quickly and not complaining. —Joe S.
  • Know when to say no! —Lenny F.
  • Definitely know to multitask and have the ability to work on multiple projects at a time. —Rich G.
  • Know the boss’ son! I also knew how to use Page Maker. —Michael W.
  • Be able to defend your design decisions along with the ability to present yourself and showcase your work in a presentation —Kristin F.
  • Pen tool and presentation skills —Amy L.
  • Get along with people! —Clay B.
  • Networking! It’s all about who you know and it never changes. Have energy: be able to throw yourself into your work. Flexibility: know we are all figuring it out as we go. —Brian C.
  • Always keep your head up high and always keep looking. There are jobs are out there. —Reid B.
  • Demonstrate that I could write to the company’s voice. —Jonathan O.
  • I didn’t annoy my boss. If you’re interested in something else, like writing, ask for a chance. I was a part-time production coordinator and part-time writer. — Laura H.

Top answers:

  1. Networking
  2. Presentation Skills
  3. Passion and Attitude
  4. Interpersonal Skills

Still Searching?

Searching for a design job and the first opportunity to take their advice? View AIGA Design Jobs as well as our Job Board.

By Kristin Fowler
Published September 7, 2012