This past weekend marked a full year since my graduation from RISD ID. Yes, I know, I can hardly believe it too. So naturally, after running into several soon-to-graduate seniors in the past weeks, I’ve been reflecting back on the past year with wonderment. Each time I talk to them, I try to piece my post-grad experiences into some kind of motivational lesson. Sometimes it comes out sounding like, “Well, I applied to a crap-load of companies, most of which turned me down instantly, one of which hired me, and that was that.” Other times it comes out more philosophical, “Life has a way of working itself out and telling you where you’re meant to be; as long as you’re eyes are open, the right path will reveal itself.” I’m not really sure if either of these methods is helpful in the slightest, or which one is a more true depiction of what really happened.
I mean, it is true that I applied to 54 design consultancies in 8 major US cities and could count the solid opportunities with one hand (and not even the whole hand). And amongst those, two were able to provide me with jobs. The first, a bustling consumer electronics product development shop in SOMA, San Fran, offered me a well paying summer co-op with a “good chance” of being able to convert into a full-time position. As the summer reared to an end, and that “good chance” was looking slimmer and slimmer, I began to look back east where I had left my heart, and my friends. After some phone calls and an interview at their (now, our), Oakland office, I joined the Tellart team, a small band of passionate and diverse designers, looking to make it big.
But before either of these opportunities could emerge, I had to put in some serious hours of research, networking, and emailing. My goal was to know where I would be working by graduation day, and so I did everything in my power to make that happen. As I said before, I applied to 54 design consultancies in 8 major US cities. To keep track of this monumental attack on the design human resources departments of America, I devised a research independent study with our department head, Leslie Fontana (somehow I was able to convince the registrar that I should get school credit for this work). I began by sculpting and re-sculpting my actual materials – the portfolio, resume, and cover letters. Compared to the rest, this was actually the easy part. Next, I spent several weeks crawling design blogs, job posting boards, and alumni networks, listing every “interesting” design firm across the country. I then organized this list into a spreadsheet, complete with each firm’s contact info. For the next several months, I kept a running log of every communication I had with each firm. This working document served as both an invaluable piece of research and a powerful tool to help me accomplish one not so simple task, GET A JOB. In the end, it worked.
Since becoming a full-time employee of a real design firm, I can definitely say my life has changed profoundly. For starters, I feel like I am a part of a family that relies on me just as much as I rely on them. The work I do, while trending more towards the design management, consulting side of things, is gratifying and fun. Oh and its nice making money, too. But most importantly, I’ve been able to sit back and be thankful, oh so thankful, for just having a job.
To all you grads out there - keep trying, stay focused, be persistent, patient, and passionate, and there will be a job out there for you.