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Design Class Talk: What Would You Tell 'Em?

I just got off the phone with one of my former design instructors over at my alma mater, Milwaukee Area Technical College. In the next month or so I'm going to pay a visit to MATC and give a 1 hour talk and Q&A to design students approaching graduation next spring.

I have a pretty good idea of what I'd like to talk about, along the lines of Thoughts on the Design Industry I wrote last month: globalism, the designer glut, emphasis an on drawing and sketching, emphasis on being good communicators, writers and leaders. I also plan to share good design resources on the web in a handout: design blogs, podcasts and whatever tools I think might be useful or inspirational.

I thought it'd be interesting to throw this upcoming talk out as an opportunity for other designers and non-designers out there to suggest specific thoughts, topics, websites, blogs, or podcasts they felt could benefit these students in my talk.

If you were able to share an insight, truth, tip or resource — what would it be?

• Something you thought was important in school that didn't turn out to be so important

• A hard lesson learned as a designer or more generally from your business life

• A skill or technique you feel is important for design school students to learn

• General suggestions for students about to graduate from college

• Good books to read

• Good blogs to read

• Good Podcasts to listen to

• Anything else you feel could be relevant or helpful to these students

FYI, this is a 2-year technical college setting, so these students will likely have pretty good technical training, but could really use resources and tips from the other side of the equation: the arts and the theoretical side of things.

Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments area of this post.

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Reader Comments (4)

I found that design classes/school don't teach you how to get a job. A good portfolio is important but good presentation and communication skills are key. I know designers with less-than-great skills that pick up jobs with complete ease, simply because they can sell themselves well.

I don't know of any good resources to point students to, but there must be a lot of resources on preparing for job interviews- both in print and online. I'm not good at 'selling myself', so I don't have any advice of my own. Being outgoing and vocal certainly seem to help. A potential employer or client will be more likely to select someone they see as friendly and personable over someone who is shy and quiet, even if that person has killer skills.

i would dedicate a few moments near the end of the talk to point out that 'selling yourself' is a key component to getting work. As the students get ready to leave school, they'll need to work on their sales and interviewing skills.
November 9, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMike
Excellent points! Funny that I just heard a podcast (two actually) with Jason Fried of 37 signals who said something like this:

"I'd rather hire an average person that works well in the team than a guru who's always grumpy"

(that's very paraphrased BTW)

I think this attitude aspect is a huge part of selling oneself after getting in the door -- if you are one person in the interview and another in day-to-day that won't work either.
November 9, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde
Teach them project management. How to communicate with a client and get the idea from start to finish in a timeline. Discuss what should be billed or not billed. Improve customer relations.
November 15, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hopkins
I agree with Nicholas, client relations are essential to all designers coming out of college. Long gone are the days of being a designer who's only job was to slice images for HTML! Every designer, even at the junior level, will have some form of contact with a client.

BTW, if you're looking for good podcasts on GD you can see an overview I wrote on my blog about what is out there.
November 16, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel Schutzsmith

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