No one could have predicted that 2020 would see design grads ending their courses in such a way that we have but it is an unprecedented scenario in many ways. Graduates are now faced with another intimidating task: finding a job during a global pandemic in an Industry severely affected by the Coronavirus. Let's be honest, it's not an ideal situation.
I joined Shape just a short 2 months ago (You can read about that here) as Brand designer after graduating from Shillington in April during lockdown, what I thought would be an exciting graduate exhibition with potential future employers viewing my work, turned into having to shift to online learning and a glass of wine over zoom on graduation day.
With studio doors largely still closed, many designers still furloughed, and no industry professionals visiting grad shows, the creative industry presented a new challenge to those with limited experience, like myself.
But, as creatives, we like to problem solve whether that's actively searching for new opportunities or working on new projects. It's not all sunshine and rainbows and don't I know it, having been out of full-time work 3 months it felt like I had my foot on the pedal but I wasn't going anywhere. Having never experienced a pandemic before, I'm no expert but here are our thoughts that may help you during times like these.
Networking has always been a crucial part of connecting with creatives and industry professionals but now more than ever. Although physical events such as Glug, Ladies Wine & Design have been postponed, this has enabled events to go online and what's better is that most of them are free (bonus cheers). Aside from this, social media is great for networking, more specifically business-orientated platforms where you can build an online presence showcasing your work. Connecting with creatives, studios and agencies is also really important to push your work out there to show what you're capable of, you never know who could see it...
At a time where you might find yourself twiddling your thumbs, refining and learning new skills can be an extremely valuable use of time. There are many great resources that recent grads can take advantage of with reduced prices, waived fees, and free trails. Skillshare is a great platform for learning new programs and we can't forget the trusty YouTube for some great tutorials.
We can’t do a lot of things right now, but we can keep on making. Don't let that creativity go to waste, whether it's a made-up project with a dream client or just some burst of creativity, sometimes these projects are often invaluable assets to a portfolio which can create a conversation with prospective employers. These are the things that will set you apart from other creatives, so keep making stuff and show your work off even if there isn’t a client attached to it.
Finding a job is hard let alone during a global pandemic, so take time to look after yourself and others. Your future might feel uncertain, but just know that everyone is feeling that too with people having to adapt to this new 'normal'.
More than anything, graduates need to remember that this is only temporary and one day the new way of work-life will become accustomed to for graduates. Have confidence and be optimistic - It may take longer now to find your dream job than you were expecting when you began your studies. You might have to take some not-so-dreamy paths for a while, but that's ok.
Despite everything, there is light at the end of the tunnel. The reality is, working from home works. More and more businesses are turning to this way of working and we're already seeing design jobs that offer more flexibility to more people in terms of where they work. I joined Shape working from home and we still are - it works incredibly well. I've been incredibly lucky to be able to join the team at Shape during times like these and I'm forever grateful for that.
So good luck to all the recent grads, I feel you.