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Navigating Career Growth

July 16, 2014 / By Heather Cobb

An emerging designer’s eagerness to create drives a design career and that comes with a steep learning curve. Let’s face it, landing and maintaining a position as an intern or in a permanent role can be stressful. Good news is co-workers will provide guidance to help navigate the daily challenges, but if the right questions aren’t being asked or the right questions aren’t being answered, the path can be terribly discouraging. As with any problem, there are solutions! Here are three areas of focus to help maximize your career growth.

1. BE VISIBLE

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AIGA Houston Cocktails with Creatives (CwC), February 2014

Problem: I don’t know anyone outside of my teachers and the graphic designers in my history books.

Solution: Build a network.

A certain amount of confidence is needed to strike up a conversation with an unknown colleague at an industry meet-up, social, or networking event. Practice by attending an AIGA event with a wingman. You’ll be surprised at how stories are easily swapped and questions are answered (or Googled). By building a network you will be visable. Feel free to get involved in a local organization or with AIGA Houston (our volunteers get into events FREE)­. Or start a side-project and blog about it!

Further Reading and Resources:
How to Network Like You Really Mean It
Do Not Open—side project of Erik Marinovich
AIGA Event Calendar

 

2. SEEK GUIDANCE

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AIGA Houston Design Loop, May 2014

Problem: I’m paralyzed by too much information or not enough information.

Solution: Find a mentor.

Seeking out a professional mentorship is a healthy alternative to networking. A mentor can help build a resume or portfolio, provide guidance on a current project, be a resource, offer referrals, and provide direction. Robin Tooms, Principal at Savage and AIGA Emeritus, offers her insight, “I have few professional regrets, but one was not actively seeking a professional mentor in my early career. I realize now that seeking a mentor is not an admission of weakness, but the opposite—it’s a positive and proactive step towards managing our careers.”

Further Reading and Resources:
The Secret Handshake
If You Aren’t Mentoring, You Aren’t Leading
AIGA Houston’s Design Loop

 

3. BE RESOURCEFUL

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Allan Peters, Keynote Speaker at AIGA Houston Inside Job Conference, November 2013

Problem: I’m still not getting the answers I desire.

Solution: Explore.

Google doesn’t have all of the answers and you won’t agree with every person you meet along the way. Take ownership of your journey and focus on filling in the gaps. That can mean learning the skills needed to approach a job differently, staying active in a social media environment, initiating an informal support group of your creative peers, or going #badgehunting like Allan Peters. Embrace exploration in order to grow your ideas and opinions.

Further Reading and Resources:
50 Ways to Get a Job
99u
Lynda.com—AIGA members receive a discount!
Skillshare
AIGA Resources for Students

Written by Heather Cobb

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