For some of us at Sonder, it has been a while since we felt those curious and sometimes terrifying feeling of being fresh to the scene. It is something that fades over time as you get familiar with your surroundings and can hold your own in a presentation or design critique. But we figured we would capitalize on having someone here that is experiencing these things first hand. Here is Christine’s unfiltered thoughts on jumping in feet first:
It wasn’t that long ago that I was a design student preparing for my final weeks at University, prepping my portfolio, website, personal brand, and takeaways leading up to the final moment: The MacEwan Design Studies Portfolio Show. There was a lot of stress and work in that final semester of school, it was so exciting to feel close to the end but also terrifying at the same time. There was a buzz of students who wanted to show off their best work and standout, with the hopes of getting snagged by one of the top agencies in the city. I had spent the past three years learning everything I could about design. I was feeling confident, eager, and I was dreaming of landing that perfect job at an agency in the city.
Only that didn’t happen for me right away…and that might be the case for you too.
In University they prepare you for a lot of things, but nothing can really prepare you for when your plans don’t pan out. By the time the portfolio show came and went, two of my classmates had been offered jobs on the spot and more slowly settling into their careers around Edmonton. In the months after graduation, I sent out countless resumes and messages out to businesses in the city in the hopes that just one person would notice my work. Instead, each email was met with silence and I’m not going to lie, I was starting to feel really defeated and a little jealous of my classmates that seemed to be getting ahead before me.
I realized that if I wanted to be working as a designer at any of these places I had dreamed of working, I needed to differentiate myself somehow from my classmates competing for the same jobs with the same portfolio pieces. So I spent a year and a half after University Freelancing full time and building up a new portfolio of work. I landed a couple of really amazing clients and I got my hands into any project that would challenge to take on an interesting approach and get me out of my comfort zone. Over this time I learnt a lot about myself, about design, my process, and running your own personal business. It definitely wasn’t easy and there was so much to learn, but there was a joy in the independence and the freedom of working for yourself.
After a few months of freelancing, I had a selection of work I was really proud of and I was really excited to show it off. I redesigned my resume, portfolio, and built a new website, one that I was actually happy with & had time to refine. Then I started to try (really try) again. I sent out emails to companies with and without job postings just to get my name out there, and I was starting to get a more positive response than on my first round of applications! It still took some time but, I finally found myself as a part of the Sonder Creative team. At the time they were only looking for a 2-month contract worker to help them get through a busy summer, which then turned into a permanent position later in September.
The time between graduating in April 2017 and landing my first real design job (July 2018) was more than a year apart and there were many tears, breakdowns, and pity parties in between. I feel really fortunate to have joined the team at Sonder Creative and I have learnt so much over this time, and I hope to continue learning and growing as a young professional.
If you take away anything from reading this post, it is to not get discouraged. It can be hard to leave the comfortable nest of University and find yourself not exactly where you want to be right away. Avoid comparing yourself to others and focus on how to continually learn and improve your craft, put yourself out there, and in time you too can find your own design ‘home’.