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Help me get moving with my career!


#1
This post is actually a sort of update from a few years back, in which I was fishing for career counselling. I was advised to look into W3Schools and CodeAcademy (thanks bigdave!). I keep revisiting these, specifically CodeAcademy, and have got a really basic understanding of JavaScript (I'm still working my way through their tutorials where I get time)

The story so far...

Ten years ago (in 2008), I graduated into a recession in the North East of England with a degree in Graphic Design. A year after graduating with no real job success, I aimlessly (and a little desperately) wandered into a two year PGCE (a basic graduate's teaching qualification here in the UK).

While on the PGCE course and afterwards, I lectured in art related subjects for 3 years in total over a period of 4 years. At the end of the 4 years I decided I needed to get as far as possible from teaching and took a job in a call centre, where I worked for just shy of eighteen months.

Finally, after nearly seven years of crashing through what felt like a pinball machine of cruddy interviews, family stuff and self pity, I landed a job as an in-houser at a screen printers.

I felt like I'd been thrown a bone, and I found myself, a 28 year old man sat in my car after the interview holding back tears of gratitude. In hindsight, the job is nothing special at all. My good nature is often exploited, I am paid the same as someone who works the tills in Asda and I have to regularly tip toe around my colleagues erratic tempers. HOWEVER, the job is still my first rung on the ladder and my feelings of relief at the time were justified as I would be completely miserable had I not finally broken into design.

And now...

In October, I marked my three year anniversary at the printers. Nothing has changed since I started (its a small business, so there are no promotion/pay rise prospects - the only options are to work until I'm 70 and die without a pension).

I don't feel like I've learned anything, even basic things like getting the artwork ready and set up for print here is done in an old fashioned Del-Boy sort of way.

99.99% of the work I do here is nudging other people's logo designs up and down in illustrator (at one low point I caught up for a pint with an old uni mate who happened to have designed one of the logos in question). This means that in over three years, I have done virtually no live, creative design work. What work I have done has been hot pink 'Lobster' font for any one of Newcastle's plethora of over 50s Hen Do's.

I'm concerned because my portfolio doesn't exactly say 'hire me'. Nonetheless, I am looking to move on.

The future...

After a few years, I have realised that I really want to move into a studio design environment. It's probably not realistic, but ideally I need to be looking at bringing in 25-30k per year, presumably as a middleweight.

What fundamentals do I need to demonstrate in my portfolio to get me to where I want to be?

I can boot up Illustrator and Photoshop and churn out pretty pictures all day, but I want to make sure that the images I am showing are relevant and show a balanced variety of the skills you would expect from (a now 31 year old) graphic designer.

There are a couple of decent looking studios dotted around the Newcastle area, I rarely see them post jobs on places like indeed - so I want to put together a portfolio, CV, website and social media presence that I am proud of and can confidently send as a mail shot, looking for work.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I know I'm being vague, but I find it hard to articulate the fact that I need help with my career into a single specific question - but it basically boils down to this:

What would you expect of a 31 year old designer in terms of skills and abilites?


Don't pull any punches with your answers, I currently feel very motivated to raise my profile as a designer ( as I'm angry that I've let myself languish in this job for too long), so all skill set suggestions made here will be taken pretty seriously.

Help me get moving!
 
#3
Good luck! Have you tried going in for a chat with the team at Concept Personnel to get some advice, they usually get the North East design vacancies but the jobs are thin on the ground and they usually expect you to design/artwork/run social media/build websites/edit videos/ etc etc. What happened to being creative and ideas driven?! (says the old dog with no new tricks :-( )
 

scotty

Well-Known Member
#4
I actually wrote quite a long reply to this but I left my Mac and it ran out of charge before I posted. FFS! :(

I just didn't want you to think I was being facetious with my one liner.

You pretty much summed up what you need to do Jri and that's what I'd expect from a 31 year old designer.
Make yourself look AWESOME and get yourself out there.
Bullshit over any cracks or gaps.
Smoke and mirrors.

That's what I did and if I can do it then a monkey with issues could.
BTW. Are you a monkey and do you have issues? ;)

Sounds like you're going nowhere in your present role and it'll suck the like out of you if you let it.
 

Paul Murray

Moderator
Staff member
#5
Just get a web/PDF portfolio together and start approaching studios. Don't bother with busy work like social media accounts or even a CV (do it when you're asked). Just get on with talking to people. If they like your work they'll want to know more.
 
#6
Thanks for the replies. I go through an annual whinge post phase, so I really appreciate you all indulging me.

they usually expect you to design/artwork/run social media/build websites/edit videos/ etc etc.
Sadly that's the nature of the North East. Heaps of designers, no vacancies. That said, I love the work and enjoy pushing myself into other areas, but am not keen on being spread too thin.

Make yourself look AWESOME and get yourself out there.
Bullshit over any cracks or gaps.
Smoke and mirrors.
It's nice to hear that I'm not the only one with cracks and gaps. As wrong as that last sentence sounds, a big part of this post is just to reaffirm that other people find the job market to be as mercurial as I do.

Don't bother with busy work like social media accounts or even a CV (do it when you're asked). Just get on with talking to people. If they like your work they'll want to know more.
This is interesting, so you approach the job market in a more social way (I could probably stand to loosen up and be less rigid with my tone in applications etc...).