8px Magazine
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8px Magazine

Choosing your first workplace

As a fresh graduate, you might think that as long as there’s a company willing to hire you (especially after tons of rejections) you’re good to go. That’s what I thought too.

Photo by Proxyclick Visitor Management System on Unsplash

Consider what you want to learn or gain.

As a self-taught designer I had no idea what specific design career path I wanted to go on, especially at the start, so I took the first offer from a boss that trusted me enough to hire me. Eventually I got comfortable and I went to work every day doing really monotonous work. Day after day, and later more than a year, passed by and I began asking myself, “What is the point of this? It’s not leading me anywhere (because I didn’t know where I wanted to go in the first place!)”.

It was forgivable since it was my first job having no design experience– the mundane recurring client works and photoshop usage was good practice. I built a little more confidence in my design abilities, whereas before I had none and always felt like a fraud for going to interviews with my barely touched Adobe softwares.

Obviously, you’ll still learn things from the job either way (though you definitely should make a conscious effort to) — it could be a hands-on skill, a soft skill, or simply what you liked/ disliked or want/ not want in your next job or environment. But it’s important to actually have a goal you want to achieve or learn while on the job, if not you’re just riding along in other people’s car, going where they want to go.

Stop considering how it’ll look “on your resume” and think about what YOU want.

People like giving advice / comments such as– “it wouldn’t look good if you took a year off”, “what has this job got to do with what you want in your career”, “do you really want to include that small-named company you worked part-time for”, but at the end of the day your resume is just that, a resume; it’s not who you are as a person.

Being “off-track” is such a weird concept– whose track are you on, if not your own? I struggled so much with this in the beginning when I went for interviews because I find the need to explain why I studied Hotel Management and Mass Communication but ended up choosing to be a designer.

If you think about it, it’s pretty funny how some people say that it’s good to be a Jack / Jane of all Trades, but have a focused path. Sounds really mystical to me. I thought the idea of being Jack / Jane was to try things because you’re interested in them. And then figure out what kind of job (aka path) would fit your set of skills and interests, not the other way around.

It doesn’t matter; it shouldn’t. Tell them what and why you’re interested in each of your chosen experience instead; it doesn’t have to line up as a perfectly woven story. Eventually, hopefully, you’d realise there is a story.

Don’t go into a company thinking you can make a change.

Unless it’s discussed beforehand. Like, discussed and in the plan.

I strongly feel I’m only invited for interviews because of my range of education background and knowledge, which usually leads me to job positions like “The Only Designer”.

This is tough in so many ways as a novice designer– people don’t trust you because they might think they know better than you, and you don’t trust yourself enough to fight for that change. Also there’ll be so much to do, you’ll probably have no time for that fight either.

Not a lot of companies are design-thinking-based. Some say they are, but they might not even understand the proper (wholesome) concept of branding. If your interviewer is not a designer, make sure to ask them about the design process thus far, and not just the job scope. And their response would tell you how much they respect you with your knowledge and a soon-to-be designer on their team.

Working with people who doesn’t know what they don’t know is going to be tough, but working with people who thinks they know when they don’t, is going to be even tougher.

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Life, by designers.

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Esther Teo

Esther Teo

Human. Designer. Feels a lot. Thinks a lot. Writes sometime. https://esthertch.com

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