I often get emailed with the question “How do I get in to the web design industry?”, mostly from students but occasionally people who just want a change of career. My answer is almost always the same regardless of whether you’re a student or not and I’m going to cover some of that advice below.
- Get A Portfolio – If you haven’t got a portfolio of work, you need one. Creative directors, heads of departments, clients don’t have a lot of time to spare, you need to get their attention and show them what you’re capable of. Make up your own briefs if you’re struggling to get some work together, redesign an existing site, do anything you can to get a portfolio together.
- Get Involved – Immerse yourself in web design. Read industry blogs, magazines, participate in forums. Become actively involved in the community.
- Play To Your Strengths – It’s great to have a wide skills set, but its even more important to play to your strengths. Too many web designers out there say they do ‘a bit of everything’ – chances are they do, but they don’t do anything particularly well. Jack of all trades, master of none as the saying goes.
- Get Some Experience – Easier said than done. If you’re a student make good use of work experience and in particular, research the company that you’re going to work for. If you’re not a student start making some contacts, email agencies, explain your situation ask them if they’d be willing to help you out. Some design agencies run brilliant work experience programs, some will simply have you working as a gopher. Find out before you commit!
- Show Some Initiative – If you’re applying for a job, recognise that you won’t be the only one and go the extra mile to make your application stand out from the crowd. And please, if you’re a designer don’t create your CV in word! Your CV is a great place to make a difference and showcase your design skills. Think of your CV as a brief in its own right.
- Persist – Don’t give up. Don’t see a rejection as a stopping block. Jobs in web design vary massively, just because it doesn’t work out at one agency, doesn’t mean it won’t at the next.
Hopefully this advice will keep you on the right path to what is a very rewarding industry to work in. I stumbled in to web design 10 years ago and I’ve never looked back since.
Good luck with your careers!