Hiring college graduates for Junior Designer roles can be rewarding & daunting for a company. Here are 7 Texilist tips for Junior Designers - to help them go from newbie to an industry professional (& 5 ways your company can help them grow).
Design colleges are going to start the recruitment process very soon for the 2021 graduates, and companies will line up for their pick of junior designers.
Fresh-out-of-college designers can be a gamechanger for any company. They come equipped with fresh ideas, new ways of design developments, new technology knowledge, as well as the blessing of thinking outside the box (that has boxed your senior designers).
But the same can also be a hassle. College education unfortunately has little to do with industry realities, and as creative as they may be, junior designers are woefully unaware of how the industry really works. They need to be trained (and trained a LOT) to bring them to an industry level - where their creativity aligns with buyer approvals.
I have personally seen 2 companies that were completely transformed by their college recruitment - and I'm a big proponent of hiring Junior designers. To align them to your company and the industry, Texilist has come up with 7 learnings for Junior Designers.
Here are 7 Commandments for every Junior Designer on your team :
1. Don't Overdesign
Design schools are focused on teaching all things design. The assignments are geared towards creating ideas/products where the student explores every technique and shows maximum output. This unfortunately can sometimes lead to "overdesigning" in your industry briefs.
As a new professional designer, you must understand the difference between a college assignment & a real-life client brief. While your college is training you to know everything, your job briefs require you to use that knowledge and create polished designs.
Professional designs (especially when targeting mass-market) need to be extremely well edited, to have a larger appeal and be cost effective. Do not over-design & add unnecessary elements, just to impress your boss (or justify that you have "designed" something). A simple striped design can meet your client brief way more successfully than some complex design.
2. Manage your Time
The industry works on tight and tighter deadlines, and you must learn to cope with it. While college curriculum is planned to keep your assignment at regular intervals, the industry adheres to no such balance. You may have weeks of quiet and then a hurricane of buyer briefs.
It is very, very critical for new designers to learn time management. You know that scope of time you got in your college assignment when you begged the teacher and got a submission delayed? Well, sadly that won't work in the industry. Even if you are bringing in amazing work, a missed deadline will go against you and cause massive losses to your company.
Start managing your time well from your first day on the job. Set deadlines for yourself even if the client has not, and ensure you deliver quality work that doesn't reflect any last-minuteness.
3. Go Beyond the Brief
College assignments are mostly designed for students to come up with their own brief (for example, create your own theme & design a collection according to it). If the vision is yours to begin with, it is fairly easy for you to work through the design process and create a product.
But in the industry, someone else will be setting that brief for you and expecting you to channel their vision into your designs. When a client brief lands up on your desk, take it as the starting point - and not the end point. The moodboard is telling you where the client's head is at - and now it is your job to push the envelope for designs for future seasons.
Let's work with an example - suppose the client brief is Monstera leaves (left image below). You can start getting inspired by the shape & texture of the leaves. Now, to push the brief, you can research current trends and incorporate them into the collection - like the current trend of organic shapes and line art has been incorporated into the cushion (right image). Go beyond the brief on your table, research trends, stay market-relevant - and you will notice higher design approvals.
4. Learn to Write
Coming out of Design school and getting your first job as a Designer may lead you to think that designing skills is all that you need to survive this industry. But there are quite many skills you must gather now for getting a professional stamp.
Writing is one the most important skills for anybody working in the industry. While you are not expected to author a book, you must have the basic communication skills to deal with clients and co-workers. In the midst of a pandemic, this skill becomes even more critical as we all rely on the written word to communicate with buyers.
There are two aspects to this - emails & presentations.
You must know learn to draft professional emails using proper language, no slang and short forms (even if you are emailing a friendly coworker).
Secondly, you must be capable of writing to clients and describing your collection, presenting your ideas and design process. Words can be as powerful as designs sometimes and you could crack a client brief just by wording your proposal correctly.
5. Learn to Speak
The obvious accompaniment to writing - Speaking.
While you may have dodged the presentations in college and pushed someone else in the group to speak on your behalf, you must evolve in your professional life.
Verbal communication is a very important tool for a designer's progress because you need to explain your ideas, voice your opinion within the team, as well as, create a seamless communication channel with your foreign clients.
You must learn how to speak and present to your clients - whether it is in a physical space (B2B fairs & buyer visits) or a digital space (zoom meetings or recorded video presentations). Work on improving your speaking skills - try to use design vocabulary while speaking, practice speaking with confidence, and be a prominent voice in the design team.
6.Get exposure to other roles
While you may hold the degree of a Designer, and your job profile says Designer - growing in the industry means understanding how the roles around you work as well. You will not be designing in isolation - the entire company function revolves around your role.
Your design will trigger sourcing, manufacturing, finishing, quality control, product photography and marketing - and you must understand how each role is impacted by your design quality. We highly recommend asking your superior to allow you to experience other roles in your company too.
7. Keep Learning
The last & most important commandment - never stop learning. You may have just graduated from formal education and think that your "studying" days are over, but they are not. The only difference is that this study has no grading, and you do it because you enjoy your profession.
You must keep reading, researching and learning as the years go by. You are the fresh energy into the company, and you must hold yourself to higher standards. It is your responsibility to bring the latest ideas, tech knowledge, and new research tools to help your company.
Attend online workshops, follow design blogs, read the latest industry news, try your hand on a new software - keep learning, that is the only way you can grow professionally.
IF YOU ARE AN EMPLOYER READING THIS
If your company has a Design team that routinely hires fresh design graduates/ junior designers, here are a few quick ways for you to help them grow.
- Assign them a Mentor : Someone who can guide them & answer questions they would normally be scared of asking. Could be your head designer, or a marketing/management role.
- Create a Judgment-free environment : There is a lot freshers don't know, and might be too scared to ask. Create a work environment where they are comfortable asking questions - could be a software they don't know, an industry-word they don't recognize - let them clarify doubts rather than assuming something and going wrong.
- Expose them to other roles : Create a small system where new recruits can spend some time understanding other roles, develop an appreciation and understanding of your company.
- Let them sit in on meetings : Give new designers a chance to sit in on design strategy discussions as well as buyer interactions, so they can observe and learn - even if they cannot contribute in them yet.
- Encourage them to keep learning : Encourage them to keep doing small courses, attend online workshops, read and research (maybe for a few hours every week) - motivate them to stay industry-relevant.
Remember, if your employee grows and evolves into a better designer, it will impact their output and directly benefit your company results.
Hiring junior designers for your team, and having trouble harnessing their talents? Use the Texilist consult feature to set up a private workshop for them (included in your Texilist subscription).
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