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10 Tips for Design Graduates from #Shillumni

Who better to get advice on securing a design job than the people who’ve walked down exactly the same path as you. We asked the #Shillumni network for their advice on what to do when Shillington ends and they didn’t disappoint. From finding freelance clients, to working in UX/UI and successfully showcasing yourself on Instagram—they’ve covered it all. 

If you’re a Shillington Graduate remember to join our #Shillumni Facebook Group to start your own discussions and gain advice from Shillington’s global graduate network. 

1. Marnie May

Since graduating, I’ve joined some groups for graphic designers through LinkedIn and they post great articles relating to design. 

I’m based in New York and there are so many exciting job opportunities in design. Personally, I’m interested in freelance, and often times if you see where your skills could be an asset to a company, approach them. I’ve done that many times with restaurants, told them I think their menu is hard to read and confusing. Often times they agree and admit they need help—so there you go! Your skills become valuable to them.

2. Nicki O’Donoghue

Make sure you know your portfolio inside out, and don’t be afraid to shout about your work. You’ve worked hard to create a body of work you should be proud of and, I expect, you feel hugely passionate about, so let this show.

A big part of why I was hired was my ability to present my work.

To explain why I made the design decisions I did and that I understood the brief and the client/audience I was designing for. Make sure you’ve done your revision too and understand who the agency are, who their clients are, what work they’ve done and, most importantly, why you want to work for them. Basically, be prepared.
Read Nicki’s full interview.

3. Andrew Hesselden

I really, really, really recommend working hard on your website while you’re still at Shillington. It is one of those things that never gets done otherwise. I keep meaning to add more work to mine… but don’t get round to it. I did mine using Adobe MyPortfolio/Prosite.

4. Danielle Hall

Instagram is such a great tool for connecting creatives and clients. Not only did Dream & Do come across my crazy, bright Instagram, Jessica Walsh also answered my hard hitting question in her #jessicasamamondays series—which was pretty cool!

If you’re a graduate and looking to build your following, here are some nuggets of gold to help you get started on social media; When potential employers, collaborators or peers can see you for who you are on social media—they get a fairly good understanding of your outlook and whether you’re a perfect fit for their agency or project.

I’m a big believer in “your vibe attracts your tribe”.

Another is to create a consistent aesthetic and tone of voice which is vital to any brand, so apps like Latergram help you get it right every time. Some apps also allow you to check your analytics which gives you a great idea of the interaction your account has, and what people love to see. Don’t be scared to comment and connect! Helping out Maricor | Maricar on their Marcs campaign, was well worth me blowing up their DM’s for the opportunity. I always use the disclaimer “Sorry if I’m being a Stage 5 Clinger right now”. It works!
Read Danielle’s full interview 

5. Lizzie Thomas

For graduates interested in digital design for interview/job prep I would recommend reading ‘Don’t make me think‘ by Steve Krug and reading articles on UX Planet. I particularly like the ones written by Nick Babich as he breaks down topics really visually and simply.

Also try and quiz a developer about the difference between responsive and adaptive design so you get more understanding about how that changes the way you design for different projects. Stay curious with software, have a play around with Adobe Muse as it’s already included in your CC package. It’s amazing what you can do with this programme and you can get your working designs online without doing a single line of code.

6. Jennifer Piper

Definitely make sure your brand and website are schmick before you graduate. It’s taken me three years to get around to updating it and I’m still nowhere near done.

Don’t put off starting to do new work. It’ll be scary whenever you do it, so just do it!

7. Simon J Lee

Keep designing. If you don’t have client work, start a pet project, enter design competitions, offer to do pro-bono work. Not being given work is no excuse to stop designing.

8. Natalia Baker

Look for chances to design straight after graduating. You want to keep the momentum and best practice from Shillington before self-doubt kicks in. While job hunting, design something for a friend to get used to working with a client. Portfolio and website revisions are great but as long as you’re actually designing, you’re progressing.
Read Natalia’s
full interview

9. Alex Fitzroy

Try to meet as many people in the industry as you can. Befriend your peers and attend conferences. You never know when someone might be of a huge help to you or you can help them. I got my first gig through sitting in a conference, so I can’t advocate for this enough.
Read Alex’s full interview

10. Guy Pittard

If you work hard, show passion and persistence, you will eventually be rewarded. It took me 9 months of countless job applications before I landed a junior role at a print company.
Read Guy’s full interview

If you’ve recently graduated check out some of our other resource pieces to help you on the way to your dream job. We have the best 25 Twitter Accounts for Designers on the Job Hunt, and How to Submit your work to 40 Popular Graphic Design Blogs.


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