This Week in Design: August 29, 2014

Do you ever have one of those weeks where you just feel like you need some career advice? The end of summer always feels like the right time. There’s no upcoming vacation to look forward to and the end of the year is often busy. So this week in design, we have varying bits of career advice to help you make the most of the last months of 2014.

Every week, we plan to a look at major product releases and upgrades, tools and tricks and even some of the most popular things you are talking about on social media. And we’d love to hear what’s going on in your world as well. Have we missed anything? Drop me a line at [email protected].

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What It Takes to Get an Ad Agency Job

There are a ton of ways to get a job. The methods can vary widely by type of work you want to do and what your creative specialty is. But what if your dream is to be the next Don Draper and work at an ad agency? How do you get started?

Walking into an agency and having all the tools to be hired on the spot is often uncommon and requires a company to take a big risk.

AIGA career expert Ram Castillo answered that question recently by sharing how he landed jobs at various agencies. He broke it down into three ways it can happen: Through the front door (rare), through a side door or through a connection. (And this advice applies to a number of jobs.)

Walking into an agency and having all the tools to be hired on the spot is often uncommon and requires a company to take a big risk. While hires are made this way, more commonly you may have to start doing something else that you don’t find ideal. But the question to ask is this: Do I really want to work for Company X? If the answer is yes, it may be worth a job that is less than you expected or a somewhat disappointing paycheck in the beginning.

But make sure to ask about future opportunities. How many people are promoted from within? Where did the people in the jobs you desire get started? Are they happy in their jobs?

The third door to agency life is your network. Here’s what Castillo, author of “How to Get a Job as Designer, Guaranteed,” has to say: “The ad agency world is small, so it’s important to grow your network. People are opportunities. If you know someone that can get you straight in, you’re potentially skipping the queue altogether as they escort you through the back (think of it like the VIP entrance) and give you a solid recommendation.”

Women Can Code, Too

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So there’s this misconception that all developers are men. But women can (and should) code, too! Sometimes the hard part is just finding a way to get started. The Creative Market blog has the perfect tool in “8 Resources for Women Learning to Code.”

From the article: “Graphic Designer Angela Cordon said it perfectly, ‘If there is only one kind of person creating programs/applications, then they are only creating for that one kind of person.’”

The roundup is a great collection of places you can go to get started in coding if you have not already. Or maybe you got started and changed your mind; this can get you going again.

Make sure to read the article for full details so you can figure out which of these tools best suits your needs. Regardless of what you choose, get coding!

Prodding Along Slow Clients

Clients that don’t get back to you in time or have a difficult time making decisions are some of the biggest challenges for designers, especially freelancers. So what can you do to help them be better clients for you and others?

Freelancers Union put together a helpful list in “What To Do When Your Client is Slow to Respond” that includes practical advice for designers and clients. The four big takeaways are:

  • Bring it up early with the client.
  • Put it in writing. (This includes a timeline or calendar for the project.)
  • Give a final warning after you’ve brought up the issue to the client.
  • Charge the client for missed deadlines.

But this is also a good time to think about educating the client as well. What if they have never worked on a design project (or with a freelancer) before? Take some time to talk to the client about how you work and your expectations. It could make all the difference.

One of the keys to being a successful designer is communication, so make sure all terms and concepts are agreed upon in advance.

You don’t want to damage a client relationship either so try to talk about deadlines and your work process from the start – maybe even before you take a job. One of the keys to being a successful designer is communication, so make sure all terms and concepts are agreed upon in advance. In the end, it will make things easier for you and the client.

In Support of Emerging Creatives

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Sometimes you need a jumpstart to get moving. This seems especially true in the world of creativity where it can sometimes be hard to land a job. Sarah Kohler of TwentyBliss is doing something about it by helping emerging creative share their stories.

“It really only takes on person to take a chance on you,” she said in article from DesignGood, “TwentyBliss: Taking a Chance on Young Creatives.” Her motivation to help came from both personal experiences as a photographer and looking at things from different perspectives.

So the Hong Kong-based Kohler started featuring the stories and work of others on her blog and in exhibitions. What’s so inspiring about the project is that it makes you feel good and provides that bit of a boost all of us have need at some point in our careers. Major kudos to Kohler for going something about it, and to DesignGood for pointing it out to us.

Just for Fun

week in design

One of the most glorious times of the year starts here in the United States this week – college (American) football season. There’s nothing like the thrill of the gridiron.

There are also a lot of great – and poor – visuals to take in in terms of team and league logos. Slate recently took a hard look at the logo of one of the most storied college football conferences in the nation. The article, “The Southeastern Conference’s Retro Logo is a Brilliant Work of Modern Design, by sociologist James I. Bowie picks apart the image and what makes it work.

“The genius of SEC branding is that it wholeheartedly embraces a logo with such an antiquated style,” Bowie writes. “Doing so allows the conference to project an image steeped in tradition, heritage, and authenticity, one that resonates with its fans, particularly in the South, where nostalgia for an idealized past remains strong.”

But you really have to take a look at the logo and his scientific explanation to really understand the impact it has. And what it takes to build a truly unique and well-received logo.