How to Get a Junior Graphic Design Job Right Out of School

Landing your first junior graphic design job is an important turning point in your career as a graphic designer. Most of us know the industry can be tough when you’re just starting out. It can be hard to believe that you can make a living from a career in graphic design that is compelling and satisfying. Finding your first job in graphic design is important, not only because it’s your first “real” job, but because it’s a great continuation of the learning process that begins even after you graduate. Looking for that “big break” might not be so difficult if you put in the effort.

Preparation

Even before you start searching for a position, you’re going to want to do some soul-searching. A few questions you should be asking yourself is what motivates you, what kind of environment do you want to be working in, what type of work you want to do, etc. These are important questions because although you want to worry more about the learning opportunity your first junior graphic designer provides, you want to make sure you’ll be happy and productive at your job. Write down answers to the follow questions on a piece of paper to help clarify your goals:

-A little about yourself – What are your strengths, weaknesses and motivations? (What will make you perform at your best?)

-The type of work – What kind of projects do you want to work on most? (Business cards, branding, logo design, web design, etc.)

-Understanding the job market – Is your job in high demand? Is there lots of competition for your spot? (What sets you apart if there is a high level of competition?)

-Doing your research even before you start to begin your journey will be very beneficial in solidifying your goals as a junior graphic designer. If you do the right research, you can find yourself in a better position to catch the attention of sough-after employers.

Find Agencies You Want to Work For

By making a list of graphic design agencies you’d like to work for, you can use the process of elimination and finalize which agencies you’re going to contact. If you rank them based on the above criteria, it will be easier to make a decision about where you’d like to work. The size of graphic design agency is an important factor you’re going to want to consider. Normally, larger agencies we have you working on more “intern-like” duties or small jobs such as editing photos, colors, etc. but you will have access to understanding how a large agency functions as well as the feedback and support of many other seasoned co-workers. A smaller agency will be able to provide you with more responsibility on tasks and projects because of the smaller size. Although this is great, you may receive smaller compensation than a larger firm.

When seeking agencies to work for, remember to choose the one that fits you best and where you will learn the most. As a junior graphic designer, the skills you learn at your first job will prove to be invaluable – it teaches you how the graphic design industry really works in the real world (when real money is involved), it will sharpen and build confidence in your skills and improve your ability to communicate with other designers and clients. If you choose the agency that allows you to work at your full potential, you’re more likely to have complete job satisfaction.

Resume

Your resume will give your possible employer an idea of whether or not you are worth looking at further. It is important to make your resume clear and easy to read with appropriate typography choices. Your resume should reflect your design style and skill. Along with your resume, you’re also going to want to make sure you have a proper e-mail or cover letter that formally introduces yourself, what your goals are and why you’re interested in working for that specific design agency. Some important things to include in that letter include:

-Who are you
-What graphic design school you are attending and what you are taking there
-Why you are contacting this graphic design agency
-What you are hoping of getting out of working for them and why you think you’re a worthy candidate
-Any extra curricular activities you’ve participated in
-All contact information

Portfolio

Your portfolio is very important to landing your first job. If you attending design school, you should have some work pieces you can place in your portfolio. Remember to only select your best work to display – this will show your true potential and abilities. Many graphic designers who own agencies come across hundreds, if not thousands, of applications from junior graphic designers. They want to see portfolios and resumes that are original and stand out from the crowd. Any generic portfolios will usually not even be glanced at. If you have any special talents or specializations, be sure to focus on that!

Follow Up

After a week or so, contact the firm again. If you haven’t heard back from there, don’t worry. Sometimes they get busy and are unable to respond promptly. Sending them a remind not only thanks them for taking the time to look at your graphic design portfolio, but it shows you are passionate about getting a job with their business. If you’re offered a position – congratulations! If you’re offered multiple positions, be choosy about where you select. Don’t always pick the graphic design firm that will give you the most money. Sometimes these positions aren’t a good fit for you.

Getting a job right out of school as a junior designer is very doable if you do your homework and research before you start applying. Don’t lose the drive and passion you have when searching for a job. If you get turned down, don’t worry and keep applying at other places. Put a lot of effort into your portfolio and resume and you’ll reap the benefits in your first graphic design job!