Ask Siedah: What Should I Do As a First Year Design Student?

September 24, 2018
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Q: I just wanted to know what are some things I should be working on as a first-year graphic design student? What’s the environment like?

During your first year of school (online or on campus), you will be introduced to the Adobe Creative Suite, and possibly take art history while you also take your electives. I would recommend you seek your bachelor’s degree in design. In my opinion, obtaining your associate’s degree is only scratching the surface. However, you should do your homework and find out if the employers in your area require you to have a specific degree.

While I was freelancing full-time, I decided to take the online college route and obtain my degree in graphic design. I attended Westwood College, which is based in Colorado. It was only mandatory for me to submit my work and participate in dialogue three times a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Sunday), so I was able to plan my freelance work around my assignments.

Here are some other things you should be working on as a first-year graphic design student:

Build your portfolio

You should incorporate your best work in your portfolio. This is proof of your skill set and will help you while applying for jobs in your area or proving to your clients you can get the job done if you decide to go the freelance route. 

Improve your skills

Here, your main focus is figuring out what your strengths and weaknesses are. Learn new tools and see what is necessary for you to go out into the world and do the best job you can do. Take this time to really become absorbed in the curriculum. Ask your professors questions so you can better understand what they’re teaching you.

Build your contacts

In your classes, you are sitting next to potential business partners or fellow designers who may be stronger in areas where you are weak. You could easily team up with another student to work on projects together. This is the beginning steps to networking, and it would be wise to take advantage of these connections you can make early on. 

Freelance while studying

After you’ve learned all the fundamentals of design and you have a few design projects under your belt consider freelancing. There is nothing like a real-life experience. While you attending college consider taking on a few projects if you feel confident in what it is you do. Don’t be afraid to pitch your skills to local businesses in the area or businesses you come across online.


Q: Are you mentoring designers?

Unfortunately, no I am not personally mentoring designers. I hope this monthly design advice column where I speak from my 17 years of experience can contribute towards your career. 

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