9 Lessons I’ve Learned In The First Few Years Of Design Career

9 lessons I have Learned In First Few Years Of Design Career

Heading back to school for my pursuance of a degree this month. Penning down some of my thoughts here on what I have learnt throughout the past years.

1. Learning to cope, it’s ok to be clueless sometimes

Reminiscing back to my very first year in the design industry, I had to learn how the company culture and system was like. I had to keep up and update myself on what I was clueless on and also have the ability to digest multiple volumes of information all at once. At first, everyone is patient with you, but after awhile.. there’s should be no excuse that you forgot to kern! Which I often try to hold on to remembering all the design rules. But hard work will always pay off, and you will never regret going the extra mile if it’s the right thing.

2. Take time to plan ahead. Anticipate downtime

Sometimes things might take longer than expected. We never know if someone suddenly falls sick or an integration might not be going smoothly as planned. Many things could happen so I had to learn to plan for time management, anticipate or foresee if there were going to be any risks or bumps.

3. Always clarify if you are unsure

“I think the client definitely wants this..” or “I believe it’s what the client sent over..”. When in doubt – ask. Transparency is important in a client relationship. I learnt this the hard way at the start when I assumed it is what a client wanted but I was wrong. So learn to clarify if you are unsure, and it helps to save yourself more time if you understand the requests of a client.

4. Perseveration will pay off

Many times, I felt completely tired and worn-out. I feel like I’m not cut-out for what I’m doing and so many self-doubts thoughts began to fill my mind. Tempted to throw in the towel and just give up. But I slowly learned through persevering, it will eventually be ok, hang in there and believe the results will be fruitful. And it was worth it in the end. I’m thankful for the lessons and experiences even the failures that I’ve had.

5. There’s always someone smarter in the room. And something to learn from each person

I’m very fortunate for my colleagues, bosses and even my clients that taught me many many things that have become very valuable to me. The ones that have challenged me consistently, inspired me, grew my ability, open my eyes to see the bigger picture.. the list goes on and on. These people excel in many different areas of expertise (illustration, typography, coding and more). Don’t forget even the non-designers also might have helpful opinions. I believe I’m one of my own best area of expertise. So don’t compare and learn from others as well.

6. Be patient

Be patient with myself and also with my clients. Try to make sense of everything logically and instead of frustrating, learning to reflect on each day and every challenge that I face. Embracing and appreciate criticism or other people’s options.

7. Be proud of my own work

Be proud of everything you do. The designs that were presented, the designs that had the most challenges even the ones that were very tough. I learnt to ask for different perspectives and directions from colleagues which often helps a lot in a project that I’m stuck in.

8. Other frequent foolishness

  • Saying “Yes” to everything when I really had to say no because my plate is clearly full
  • Stretching myself too far (see above)
  • Sending wrong files to wrong person (sorry GlennĀ and Glen)
  • Inconsistent colour in CMKY mode
  • Forgetting to follow up
  • Lazy to kern or bad typography
  • Forget email etiquette when I’m in a rush
  • Having a long lunch when there’s a deadline to meet
  • Missing the deadline
  • Putting career first by being a total workaholic and risking my meaningful relationships

9. Work hard and play hard

Sometimes I set this very high bar of standards for myself and get upset with myself if I make a mistake. When slip-ups happen, I take it seriously and get irritated at myself for making a mistake. I learnt that things happen, as long as it’s not a constant routine, I had to get over it, learn from it and move on. Be serious but also learn to relax and have fun otherwise I would just be a really grumpy frowny lady all the time. Also, it’s good to celebrate and give yourself a treat or a pat on the back for completing another achievement.

Concluding Thoughts

I wonder how many other designers have shared similar experiences. Being in the workforce for a good 2+ years opened my eyes to many things. I became more clear about my goals, decisions and whether this was the right path for me to continue on. I look forward to where I’m headed to in the future.

Posted on May 28, 2018

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