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Although there is no hard and fast rule about how long a job search lasts, recently graduated graphic designers should expect that it will take between three and six months to land a permanent job. If you live in or near a larger city, signing up with a temp service is an option that allows you to gain experience and earn some bucks while still leaving free time for interviewing. Three of the larger temp agencies for creative services are Aquent (www.aquent.com), Randstad (www.randstad.com), and The Creative Group (www.creativegroup.com). If you live in the Northeast, check out BOSS Staffing (www.bossstaffing.com). To find temp agencies operating in other specific geographic regions, run an The Internet search or comb the yellow pages. Temp agencies like go-getters, so make frequent phone contact to let them know you’re serious about assignments. You may be offered a temp-to-perm or temp-to-hire spot that involves a trial period, usually ninety days. This situation affords both you and the employer an opportunity to see if there’s a match. INTERNING You never know when a stint as an intern can lead to something permanent, as was the case with Steve Adolf whose internship at Grey Advertising in New York City paved the way to an offer of permanent employment with the firm. Now the Creative Director at Zimmerman (a division of Omnicom) in Florida, Adolf advises, “When you’re just starting out, look at all your options. Move around. Each place you go teaches you something new.” Noted Manhattan designer Mirko Ilic also thinks interning is a viable option. “Get an inside view of how the design world operates by being an intern,” he says. “After all, Leonardo da Vinci was an intern. Why shouldn’t you be one?” In addition to his staff, Eli's always has at least one intern working in his studio. What qualities does he seek in selecting interns? “I look for attitude . . . is this somebody who is friendly and open-minded. Am I going to want to work with them? Are they eager and hungry?” PORTFOLIO REVIEWS The designers we interviewed reported that they receive lots of calls from recent grads asking, “Are you hiring?” Maybe that off-hand type of approach works at a burger joint, but our sources tell us it doesn’t cut it in the design profession. However, it is okay to call to inquire if the agency holds portfolio days, sometimes referred to as portfolio reviews. Many firms, like Wages Design in Atlanta, regularly set aside time for illustrators, photographers, and graphic designers to stop in and show their books. “Friday is Portfolio Day,” Bob Wages says. “The whole team meets with whoever stops by. This is definitely not a job interview but it is an opportunity for you to get feedback on your portfolio, deliver a leave-behind, and perhaps develop the beginnings of a professional relationship.” The payoff for the pro is staying current on design trends while keeping an eye out for hot new talent that can be tapped for future projects. Who knows? If you’re lucky, you may leave with a lead or two for job prospects.