Tip for young designers / developers

Originally posted on medium

I wanted to share some things I wish someone could have told me when I started out in design and development. I am by no means saying that these are definitive, nor should you take my advice, but I hope that some of these may give you a little advice on how to approach a certain situation you come across over the next few years.

University alone will not get you a job

Although university is great for teaching you some of the essentials in design and development, they will not actually get you a job. The job market for students straight out of university / college is the most competitive, so you need to differ yourself from the next applicant.

During university is the perfect time to build up your portfolio. (and your bank account) Put yourself out there, ask around for people who need work doing, introduce yourself and your skills to that local restaurant, shop, anything. Employers want to see examples of how you can apply yourself to real world situations.

If you can’t get someone to do work for, then come up with a concept project. If you are a designer, design a poster for your favourite band, redesign a website of a brand you like. If you are a developer, think about a plugin that could be useful, develop an app. The more examples of how you can apply yourself differs you from the next applicant.

It is ok to say NO

This is one of those things that I definitely didn’t do in the early days of my career, now don’t get me wrong, there are certain occasions where you need to make compromises. However, one thing you need to understand is that it is perfectly fine to say no to a clients demands. There are a number of reasons why saying no can be so much more productive, than just agreeing to all demands. There are a lot of articles on this subject, so I thought here are a few links to have a browse over instead of covering old ground.

http://alistapart.com/article/no-one-nos-learning-to-say-no-to-bad-ideas

http://blog.jpdesigntheory.com/learning-to-say-no-to-bad-freelance-projects/

Sweat the details!

The details are the parts of projects that will get you noticed by your peers. In fact, I would say that these finer things in projects are what really hit home the potential and vision that you have as a designer or developer.

Take a step back and really think about every detail your project has to offer, time will always be tight, deadlines will always be bearing down on you. However, if you can add just one thing to a project that will make your peers step back and go “Nice, he thought about ...” The prospects for that place on the cool project coming in next month are increasing every time.

There will always be someone better than you

If you want to progress and become a better designer / developer, there is something you have to do right this minute… Put your ego to one side!

Embrace contribution, criticism and advice now. You will never be the best at something, there is always someone you will be able soak up a bit of knowledge from. Having an ego will only limit your progression up the ladder.

Sharing nothing, gets you nothing

Don’t be afraid of putting things out there, that idea is never going to get any feedback sat on your computer. Get it on the internet, get criticism on your work, it will only make you better at what you do. Hell, it can even lead to more work if people dig it. It can be very nerve-racking at first getting feedback, don’t get your back up if it’s not great, just use it to your advantage on your next piece.


So hopefully the above may have given you a few little things you can take away and put into practice, the main thing you need to take away from this is to create for the love of it. Don’t always think about your pocket or bank balance, money led projects are easy to spot, enjoy what you do.

Comments