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LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP: design
If you’re reading this section, you’ve probably decided the pros of working for someone else (at least starting out), outweigh the cons. Degree in hand, you’re ready for the “real” world.design Ideally, you’re reading this book before graduation so you’ll know how to launch your career once school ends. And you still have time to line up internships (also known as on-the-job training or practicum) so you’ll be able to include real-world working experience on your resumé. Another career tip is to make time to be involved in campus chapters of professional organizations. Too little time left for taking the above advice? Here’s a resumé-builder you can probably manage to sandwich in your schedule. Find two or three places that can utilize your skills for free (nonprofits or volunteer-based operations are usually good choices). What do you get out of it? Great samples for your portfolio, that’s what. Real-world experience generally trumps school related projects (unless, of course, you’re a winner in campus-wide competitions). Another back-door way in is to get some work experience, even if it’s only over the summer or on a part-time basis, at a printer’s. That way you immediately communicate to an employer that you’ve learned things they never teach you in school.design Whether you are still in school or you’ve already graduated, let’s assume you’re extremely motivated to do the groundwork necessary to land a job you’ll love. But wait. Before you rush off to print hundreds of resumés, it’s best to begin with some mulling time—or creative introspection, if you prefer a fancier term. WHAT’S YOUR BOTTOM LINE? If you begin your job search with some notion of your own bottom line, you save time as well as make a wiser match when it comes to ferreting out the right design position for you. Thinking about your bottom line first makes you less likely to fall prey to desperation moves.design Start with Some Soul-Searching Ask yourself this simple question: Where do I want to live and work? Geography plays a more important role in our lives than we often realize. Will you . . .design • Stay in the city or town where you graduated? • Move back in with your parents or a relative until a job comes up in that zip code . . . or as far from that area as it’s humanly possible to get? 45 05 graphic revised 2/13/07 5:26 PM Page 45 • Move off with your college friends and keep your fingers crossed that once you’re relocated, a job will materialize? • Allow your significant other’s or spouse’s job to determine where you’ll take up residence? • Ditch life in the slow lane for the allure of the fast lane . . . or vice versa? • Move to Timbuktu or Kalamazoo as long as somebody offers you a steady paycheck and a chance to make your mark? As a general rule, it’s best to sort out the answer to the geography question before you launch your job search. Once you’ve narrowed down a territory (or two) where you’d prefer to live, you’re ready to tackle one more bit of self-reflection. Dreaming Up Your Dream Job Now that you’ve determined your geographic sphere, it’s equally useful to spend some time reflecting on what your dream job might look like. Here are some questions for you to think about: • What will size firm suit you better, large or small? • Other than design, what “additional duties” are you willing to perform? • When it comes to the company’s “culture,” what are you looking for? The hottest or fastest-rising firm? One with an awesome client list? Or is a more informal, laid-back style crucial to your happiness? • Are you willing to work in excess of sixty hours a week? Eighty? Weekends? • How much on-the-job pressure can you realistically handle? • Other than salary, what other perks or benefits are definite dealmakers for you? design • How much commute time can you realistically commit to? • Are you agreeable to working for low pay (or no pay) if the experience and exposure will prove valuable? • Do you feel burned out or fed up in your current position? • Are you itching to move up . . . or on?