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What’s Your Destiny?

As graphic design students about to enter the real world, we should all be thinking about our destiny. After attending the AIGA Student Portfolio Review and Career Day yesterday, I was fortunate to have gained some insight on what we can expect after graduation and thought this would be great information to share. Designer Nathan Hill shed some light during a breakout session about what it’s like to work for different types of companies. In a nutshell, the good and the bad are as follows:

BOUTIQUE STUDIO. The boutique studio provides more intimate client relationships while exposing you to diverse projects and mediums. You have more creative expression (“less filtered”) and more opportunity to bring something to the table. Do realize though that you might not earn as much and will have a lot of late nights since you’ll be working with a small group and small budget. Avant garde projects and high profile accounts are harder to come by.

IN HOUSE. Advantages of working with an internal group include a larger salary and already defined operations (this could be good or bad). You’re working with an established brand and get the opportunity to collaborate with many departments. Because you are working with something already established there will be less project diversity; you might become bored with fewer challenges and find that excitement and diversity are lacking.

OTHER OPTIONS. If you can’t see yourself with an in-house design team or boutique studio, don’t worry…there are other options. Working for an agency provides you the experience of big name clients and more risks – plus it looks great on your resume. You might have to deal with a smaller salary, long hours, and adhering to their culture. Another avenue might be freelancing. There is potential to bring in more money since you’re your own boss with less overhead, and you’ll quickly build a diverse portfolio and learn all the tricks of the trade. You must be okay with working alone and wearing several hats. Since you are it, you’ll have to be the salesperson, accountant, receptionist…and designer. You must be able to get the all these jobs done without supervision.

I think any of these options are worth exploring, in combination or on their own. When determining where you’re headed after graduation it’s important to consider your personal style, aspirations and what’s a good fit for you as an individual.


  1. Anne Kerns wrote:

    Another plus of working for a large company (in-house) is generally better benefits. (Such as health, life, and disability insurance; paid vacation time/personal days; sick and family leave; etc.)

    Also, it is usually a good idea to try to get some experience working for/with other people before going full-time freelance. You will learn a lot your first year or two in the professional world.

    Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Permalink
  2. mandy sorenson wrote:

    i agree that thinking about our destiny as designers is something we should all definitely be in tune with right now. I haven’t yet been to any portfolio review meetings or classes and know that i need to soon..thanks for sharing your insight!

    Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 7:32 pm | Permalink
  3. EmFlores wrote:

    I really enjoyed Nathan’s talk at the Portfolio Review Breakout sessions. I hope to have the opportunity to work at both types of places, eventually prepared to freelance and go to grad school for a masters in Publication.

    Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 8:51 pm | Permalink
  4. Jung wrote:

    Thank you for sharing valuable information. I didn’t know there are different types of companies.

    Saturday, March 6, 2010 at 12:35 am | Permalink