In this month’s main article, Absolute’s Art Director, Scott Raffath, expounded on the skills and practices a graphic designer needs to break into the agency world after graduation and maintain their skills. The time immediately preceding graduation is really exciting, but it can also be nerve wracking as you look to the uncertain future. So here are five tactics to keep your graphic mindset and your work mentality fresh.

  1. Assemble Your Portfolio: The most value you can bring to an interview at an agency is your past work. It all comes to transferable skills and your ability to present yourself as adaptable to various situations through various skill sets. Simply put, you not only need to talk the talk, you need to walk the walk.
  2. Maintain Your Network: Opportunity won’t always come knocking, which means you’re going to have to go out and find it. The competition is fierce, especially as a new graphic designer, so you’re going to have to find ways to get your name and work into the design community. A couple tactics Scott recommended was getting involved in local, regional and national design associations in addition to pushing your portfolio online.
  3. Have a Critical Eye: The phrase that comes to mind here is “Be your own worst critic.” Now we’re not saying you need to constantly and continuously beat yourself up, but you need to be prepared for criticism from every side. Unlike a majority of industries, graphic design is constantly subjected to the opinions, likes and dislikes of clients, the general public and even your agency coworkers. To combat this, be methodical in the steps you take toward a solution and have strong rationale to backup your design decisions.
  4. Stay Updated on Design Principles: Given the competitive landscape of the agency world, you’re going to have to stay updated on the latest design principles in order to maintain your edge. Not only do you need to stay current, but you also need to be able to recognize when a design trend has legs to stand on and how you can take that innovation one step further to enhance the human experience.
  5. Work Hard, Have Fun: Being a graphic designer is certainly not a walk in the park. There will be tight deadlines. There will need to be a balance between thinking and doing. There will be new software to master. This means you need to show up at work everyday with the goal of improving yourself. When you do that, you’ll bring immeasurable value to your clients, your team and your work. And that makes it all worth it.

If you’re interested in working for a marketing agency, please visit to learn more about available positions and submit an application.