NPR’s Robert Kurlich, "If you can… fall in love, with the work…."
So, after writing the post below, we wanted to think more about how young designers should actually proceed in practical terms. And, then I stumbled on NPR journalist Robert Kurlich’s commencement address to the Berkeley School of Journalism. Much of what he say’s to journalists enterring the market is equally relevant for designers. You can read his complete speech on the Discover Blog.
“What if – and here’s a horrible thought – that because you were born in 1980, or 82, 85, 87, graduating into a job-stricken, wildly changing economy… maybe you’re just doomed. Some of you must be thinking that—and for you who are, and to your parents, I say: No, no, and no.
I am here to tell you, that you are stepping into a world that is riper, more pregnant with newness, new ideas, new beats, new opportunities than most generations of journalists before you. You are lucky to be you, very lucky, though you may not be feeling it at the moment.”
This certainly holds equally true for designers who embrace technology such as website and app design. These markets remain a boom. But, the point is, what do you do in practical terms. Step one, I believe, is old-school “pound the pavement”. Make a list of every single company remotely interesting. Try to sort out an individual that you can reach out to via email, and…make your pitch. And, follow-up, keep in touch, etc.
I always give the same advice, don’t obsess about whether each company is the right fit or you respect their exact type of work (advertising vs. design, etc.) etc. etc. Play the odds, follow every lead, and then take decisions based on the options that appear. The best advice I ever received in my own job searches was, “first get the offer”. Once you have the offer in hand, you can decide if xyz position is really right for you at the given moment in time.
Still, the odds are against you, so what next? And here, Kurlich’s advice to journalists are just as relevant for designers:
“Some people when they look for a job in journalism ask themselves, What do I like to do and Who can take me there? Who can get me to a war zone? To a ballpark? To Wall Street? To politicians, to movie stars? Who’s got the vehicle? And you send them your resume and you say, “I want a seat in your car.” … And you wait.
But there are some people, who don’t wait.
I don’t know exactly what going on inside them; but they have this… hunger. It’s almost like an ache. Something inside you says I can’t wait to be asked I just have to jump in and do it.
Suppose, instead of waiting for a job offer from the New Yorker, suppose next month, you go to your living room, sit down, and just do what you love to do. If you write, you write. You write a blog. If you shoot, find a friend, someone you know and like, and the two of you write a script. You make something. No one will pay you. No one will care, No one will notice, except of course you and the people you’re doing it with. But then you publish, you put it on line, which these days is totally doable, and then… you do it again.
After they wrote, they tweeted and facebooked and flogged their blogs, and because they were good, and worked hard, within a year or two, magazines asked them to affiliate (on financial terms that were insulting), but they did that, and their blogs got an audience, and then they got magazine assignments, then agents, then book deals, and now, three, four years after they began, these folks, five or six of them, are beginning to break through. They are becoming not just science writers with jobs, they are becoming THE science writers, the ones people read, and look to… they’re going places. And they’re doing it on their own terms! In their own voice, they’re free to be themselves AND they’re paid for it!
If you can… fall in love, with the work, with people you work with, with your dreams and their dreams. Whatever it was that got you to this school, don’t let it go. Whatever kept you here, don’t let that go. Believe in your friends. Believe that what you and your friends have to say… that the way you’re saying it – is something new in the world.”
You can read his complete speech on the Discover Blog.