Every newly graduated graphic designer has the same dream.
Hip office space downtown. Glamorous agency life. Great benefits. Great pay. Designing band posters and coffee shop logos. Pool table and dart board room to keep creative minds moving. Free breakfast on the first Tuesday of the month. Your designs become famous and are splashed all over the city – maybe even the country. Sounds fantastic? That’s what we all want and imagine, right?
Then reality hits.
You forgot to mention the micro-managing numbskull who sits in power above you, the pissy attitude of the relationship manager in the cubicle next door, the fact that you’ve made fifteen revisions to the most recent brochure artwork and haven’t been given an explanation as to why, the impossible deadlines watched meticulously by the project manager who shoves ridiculous expectations on the one who happens to have the last leg of the project before it needs to go out the door. Yeah, you forgot to mention those.
When I graduated college, I had dreams to be the hipster, artistic chick with a funky hair cut and unnaturally colored streak through her hair who nailed the agency job and developed this crazy, kick-ass portfolio of hair stylist and boutique logos and wine bottle packaging.
A graphic design opportunity presented itself to me to work in a corporate environment for a big financial company surrounded by grey cubicle walls, business casual dress attire, and lame (but free) coffee in the break room. Sounds boring. I took it. Little did I know, this would turn out to be one of the greatest jobs that I will ever have. And I already know this.
It comes down to the people, the managers, and then the work. No matter what job you have, you are in the “people business.” You will always work with people, computer geek or not. I work with some of the greatest people in the world. We laugh, a lot. As a team, we are trusted to work independently and meet deadlines, manage our time efficiently, and expected to produce great work. We develop concepts out of thin air and make the magic become a reality. Everything we do in the marketing department is driven by intention. It’s the key to our success and it’s the key to my growth.
If you’re currently employed, the questions to ask yourself: Do you like the projects you are given? Do you like the people you work with? Are you challenged and pushed to your creative limits daily? Do you believe in the company’s mission and values? Are you valued (at work and in life)? What have you learned since working there?
If you’re currently dreaming of the dream design job: What’s most important to you in a job? What values do you hold personally close to your heart? What do you want your role to be as a designer? What do you hope to gain from working with those surrounding you?
Just remember, the flashy agency down the street might not hold your dream in it’s sparkling little hands.