Setting yourself up for success in school is difficult. No one talks about it in high school or university. However, the internet is an excellent resource to help steer you in the correct direction. Here are my four top tips to help you do just that.
Get an Internship, Co-op, or Work Study
When choosing a university, many consider it obvious to look at who offers the best program for their desired major, such as the best teachers, equipment, facilities, etc. However, many fail to consider choosing a university if they have an internship, co-op, or work-study for their major. I think this is a significant consideration. Getting experience early is critical in building up your resume and your expertise.
Bonus, you will make some extra money and get a reference. A tip is to look at the internship/co-op/work-study requirements. I had to be a third-year student at my school, have a certain grade average, and take specific courses. It varies, of course, but you need to keep that in mind to qualify.
Some may argue you can get one outside of school. You can, of course! However, there are extra benefits. The schools have agreements with these companies that often have to fill those positions with students from a specific school. Your odds of getting that position increases significantly. They also sometimes offer help in interviewing and writing resumes and cover letters. Either way, you need to build up experience.
Start a Portfolio
This may be common sense, but it bears repeating. I would advocate having a physical and online portfolio if possible. There are many free websites you can take advantage of. Such as Google websites, Wix, and more. Here is where you can brand yourself, set yourself apart from others, look professional, and get experience building websites.
You may find yourself lacking projects. My answer, make fake ones. There are a lot of great ideas online for fake portfolio ideas. However, make sure it relates to your industry. Building a body of work will take time, but it is well worth it.
This is an easy and cost-effective method to get your name out there. Again, it’s building your brand as a secondary way to show your portfolio and participate in the community.
Another benefit is that you will become familiar with social media management. This is a skill many companies are looking for in regard to marketing.
Join a reputable registered group/certification
There are many organizations out there that offer certification. Bonus, they often offer a reduced price for students. Many companies specify a destination or certification for their candidates. Go on Linkedin, indeed or another job board and search for what kind they are looking for.
One I recommend for graphic designers, specifically in Canada, is RGD – https://www.rgd.ca/
It will be a boon for your professional if you can get it. It will increase your prestige and validate your experience and skills, and you again can connect with like-minded individuals.
This one is optional because I understand not everyone can pursue it due to financial situations. This is a way to build experience, a portfolio, and a network. I would recommend trying to find a contract or project-based position. Short-term is better, allowing you to make a clean break.
These are my top tips. If there are any I’m missing, let me know below. I wish you all the luck in your future development.