Framing Opportunity As a Graduating Design Student

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As I am writing this, I feel a bit hypocritical only because I, myself, am still on this journey. For the bulk of senior design students, the next few months are filled with emotional toils, brain buzzes, epiphanies, and self-doubt.  One moment we feel as if jobs and opportunities should just fall like lemon drops in a design candyland, but in all reality they don’t. There are mainly two types of design schools, ones that teach making and craft skill and those that teach theory, concepts, and thinking collateral. Both are equally necessary, but both also have their pros and cons. No matter which curriculum setting you are in, there is one thing that is for sure which is we have to frame our opportunities.

What do I mean by that? Isn’t job searching a matter of a standard portfolio, cover letter and resume? Maybe a few interviews and boom you have a full-time job? The fact is, that fantasy is all but a façade in the real world of design. I have seen the graduates who have come before me struggle post commencement. I have even seen some change career paths or even go back to school. We have to frame an opportunity. It is no longer about who’s work looks the best, but rather the nitty gritty in between the pixels.

Your opportunity frame is a conceptual map of yourself. Simply, it’s your story. Who you are, where you want to be, why you want to be there, and what you have to offer. But just like the competitive industry of book publishing, you have to be unique in what you say and offer because like authors there are thousands of designers. Within your frame you should look upon yourself as if you were another individual. Describe yourself from an outside perspective. Be conceptual, concise and potent in what you say and believe your skills are to be. For example, if you don’t really like to brand, don’t use it. It’s about selling yourself in the best way possible, in the way that will only benefit your passion and goals rather than only accepting anything that comes your way.

By framing yourself in a deep, meaningful, and truthful way, the result will be a more holistic view of yourself and the industry. Soon you will notice places, people and opportunities become more apparent as being fitting because they sit neatly in your frame, like a painting. Also with this comes confidence. There will not be an inner mystery of who you are as a designer. It is hard to define ourselves, even though no one knows your better than yourself. However, do not view it as a narcissistic narrative of your blossoming designer vision, but rather as a way to pick out all the nicks and knots and be left with something tangible, honest, authentic, and guiding towards a more fulfilling future. In short like a cheesy tagline, be yourself, be proactive and opportunities will come your way.