I recently had a fellow design friend ask me what he could do, while in school, that could help land an I.D. job. I had a couple ideas, and thought this would make a great post. This is not meant to be a sure formula and guarantee for hire, just my opinion on what may help.
To me there are 5 main areas:
1.Great sketching (not necessarily #1, but somewhere at the top)
2.Awesome model building (with company specific software)
3.Inspiring presentations (that tells a story about the product – more importantly about your abilities)
4.Offer something unique (this could be a skill, the way you solve problems, or something else)
5.Well-established industry relationships
Great sketching will always play a major role in your job opportunities. An I.D-er is responsible for finding product design solutions and communicating them to the customer/employer. Sketch quality is directly related to inspiring project teams with confidence to invest. The inspiration can come from style and clarity. While in school competition to be the #1 artist is stiff. It’s important to always benchmark your work, be honest with yourself and ask “Where does my work rank?” You should not only do this with your immediate classmates, but with students from other schools. Aim for #1, but know that there will always be someone better. That’s not meant to be negative, just a statement to keep you humble and always looking to learn.
Awesome model building is especially important in today’s economy. With every company reducing headcount, the demand for multi-faceted/cross-trained employees grows. Naturally with workers doing more then before there’s less time to train. Students that come out of school with high-level training in all company used software increases their chances 10 fold. They have become “soldiers ready for battle.”
An inspiring presentation is your ability to tell stories and sell ideas. While in school this becomes a double edge sword, because it also describes your skills as a designer. I’m sure you’ve heard before, that your presentations should speak for themselves. The story should be clear and visible with or without your presence. I’d like to add, that your abilities as a designer are very clear and present in every presentation you create, so ask yourself what messages are you sending about yourself?
Offering something unique is self explanatory, yet probably one of the most important areas. At this moment there are fewer jobs being offered, yet the same amount (if not more) students looking for jobs. How are you going to set yourself apart from them? How will you become memorable after being the 50th interviewee?
Well-established industry relationships build easy to cross bridges. In a way it’s a lot like marriage, would you marry someone you didn’t know? Of course not. Why would a company hire some one they don’t know? Sure this happens, but they risk a lot. I would look now for opportunities to start conversations with prospect companies, even if this is your first year. Ask for job insights, share your work, and invite critiques. When the time comes to interview you’ll have allies and referrals, people willing to put their reputation on the line to recommend you.
I hope this gives a little help to those in school currently or even those looking for jobs now. Of course I’d love to hear insight you may have.