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16.05.22

Ten top tips for getting a job in the design industry...

...or at least an internship.

So, you’ve just submitted that final project and you’re feeling super proud (and maybe just a little sleep-deprived). Your studies are coming to an end and the big wide world of the design industry is just on the horizon.

So, how do you get there? Your first job in design will be one of the most significant throughout your career, so finding a studio whose work matches your interests and beliefs will help you flourish in the early years and kickstart your life as a designer.

From our fresh-faced Juniors through to our battle-hardened Executive Creative Directors, we’ve asked the question ‘How do you land that dream first job?', getting useful advice from those who’ve just entered the industry, and those who’ve hired dozens of new designers over the years. So here it is, ten top tips for getting a job in the design industry, illustrated by the brilliant Martyna Makes.

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Go beyond the ‘Work’ page and go deep into the reasoning behind the work, to find the agencies and studios who you truly admire and want to work at. There are so many brilliant places out there, so look far and wide, you may not have even discovered your favourite studio yet!

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It’s no use simply tapping that like button and hoping the agency of your dreams notices. Get in touch, speak from the heart and tell them why you admire them, how they’ve inspired you and how you feel your work is aligned. No matter how big the studio is, they will appreciate the kind words.

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Ahh the fabled email template: “hello […], I love your work on […] , especially the part where you […].” – It’s easy to see through a copy and paste approach, so take some time with your emails and make them personal. Find the Creative Director, follow them, like their work and reach out to them personally.

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There’s all kinds of reasons as to why someone hasn’t got back to you, sometimes it’s simply down to how busy the studio is at the time. So don’t give in, wait a couple of weeks and try again. Follow up but don’t chase. Nudge but don’t budge. Still not responding? Give them a call.

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“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” – the old adage still rings true in the world of design. Ask your friends if you know anyone who needs a new recruit. Ask them to ask their mates. Even better, ask them to ask their Creative Director if they know anyone who’s looking. It’s a small world, you’ll be surprised by who knows who.

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Be your own biggest fan and don’t be hesitant to send your portfolio to the best of the best. If you don’t try, you’ll never know. Remember, a well written email can do wonders, so dream big!

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Landing your first job in design rarely comes from an immediate hire, so start things off a bit more chilled and ask if you can grab a coffee to show them your work. Hiring a new talent is as much about a meeting of the minds than simply picking the person with the best work.

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Got an interview? Great, now the hard work starts. Polish your portfolio. Pick 2–3 projects that truly reflect you as a designer. Know what you’re going to say and keep your explanations short, sweet and to the point. You got this far, so be confident and have fun!

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Think about the answers to some key questions your future employers may want to ask you. It’s also important to have your own questions prepared. Curiosity is key and it shows you’re interested, so think about what you want to find out.

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You’ve bagged that internship, now’s the time to own it. Go all in and work hard. Ask the questions. Make tea! Be upbeat. Empty that dishwasher. Be irreplaceable.

Illustration: Martyna Makes