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From an intern's perspective: Graduation and finding your first job

Graduating can be equal parts terrifying and exciting. It’s the first time you don’t have a structured educational path laid out; you have the potential to do and be whatever you want. It’s time to take stock and start applying for things. At this stage you are probably in a place where you are very creatively motivated: you’re excited, fresh off the back of your degree and hefting a clean, newly printed portfolio. This can sometimes be a disadvantage: there is a lot of competition out there, and as a result, it is very easy to get twitchy and jump at the first offer you get.

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The first thing to remember is that you have studied for at least three years to prepare for this moment, and you need to consider this before accepting any jobs. Depending on your situation, it may not be ideal to immediately accept the first thing that you are offered. This is particularly true when considering the placement of large graduate fair like New Designers and New Blood: employers want to snap up a lot of the talent prior to these events, to prevent it going to the competition. Think about what is being offered, and whether you stand to lose out in the long run by being over-enthusiastic about accepting the first offer put in front of you. Don’t underestimate yourself, and don’t settle for a position you know if you won’t grow and learn from it.

On the flip side, don’t take things for granted. You can’t put off work forever by continually rejecting places because they are never quite perfect for you. There will inevitably be places you like more than others, and at some point, you will have to make a decision between two opportunities, and it is ultimately up to you to make the right choice. More importantly, don’t be arrogant. You have a lot to learn; remember to be humble and gracious (there are people in the industry who have been working at this longer than you’ve been alive). Also remember that thousands upon thousands of graduates are leaving university each year and are applying for all of the same jobs.

This is essentially an exercise in how much you value yourself as a creative, and what potential you feel you have to realise, while also managing your expectations. This will generally tie into your work ethic. At the heart of it is the harsh truth that no one wants to give a job to someone hesitant to do the work. For this reason, internships are important; they are a great way of racking up experience on your CV, all the while seeing what sort of work you actually enjoy doing. I would highly recommend undertaking internships before finishing your degree, although admittedly this will not always be the case. If you don’t yet have an internship lined up now, I would strongly recommend looking for one.

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You need to acknowledge that in an agency you need to work much faster and harder than you have at any point at university (unless you were at any point set a quick fire ‘one day brief’). Projects which you mulled over for weeks at a time will now need completing in a matter of days, or even hours. When in the workplace show a willingness to adapt and grow; learn new software; begin working with bespoke typographic elements. This is another reason to choose potential employers wisely: consider how much you stand to learn and benefit. Be brave (and also make tea).

Think things over, consider your options, and manage your expectations. You have a scary/exciting/rewarding few months coming up. Good luck!!

    Great article