15 Tips for Recent College Grads Going into a Creative Field

Artist's Desk
Advice for College Students and Recent Grads from the Creative & Account Team at R.J. Conlin

As a college senior preparing to graduate in May, the prospect of entering the “real world” is extremely intimidating. The past 18 years of my life have been spent in the classroom. While much of my education has been focused on teaching me what I need to know for my career, I found that I learned far more from practice than from a book. I decided to talk to the creative and account team at R.J. Conlin – who have years of experience in the business – to get advice for myself and other college grads. This is what I found:

  1. It’s important to have an opinion.
  2. Always try and debate it logically without arguing.
  3. Know how to communicate effectively – whether it’s via email, over the phone or to a large group, you should learn how to articulate your ideas clearly and professionally. In marketing, presentations happen all the time. While you’re still in college, look for opportunities to get up and speak in front of a group; the more you practice, the less nervous you’ll be when you’re in front of clients.
  4. There are a lot of opportunities and avenues through which to make yourself useful.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need.
  6. Be yourself.
  7. If you are going into a digital field, be prepared to be in a constant state of flux. Find quality resources such as online seminars, reputable websites or your local community college to keep you up to date.
  8. Carefully edit everything you publish/design/create. Review, critique it and ask others what they think.
  9. It is important to be able to distance yourself from your work and accept that not everything you do will be a portfolio piece, especially when you are first starting out.
  10. Knowing the ins and outs of the printing process is very important to a good designer. Having a good relationship with printers and understanding the color process in printing is both educational and a must. You can create a beautiful design, but is it functional? Can it be printed in an effective way to save cost on printing?
  11. Design is messy.
  12. Learn color; it evokes emotion and can make or break a good design. Play around with it and try out different color combinations.
  13. Value your work.
  14. Never stop learning.
  15. Always share your thoughts and ideas. It can be intimidating as a young professional to work with seasoned creatives who seem to know it all about marketing and creative services. But at some point, you realize the value that everyone can bring to the table. Many times a fresh perspective is just what is needed and creativity comes in lots of forms. So, put your ideas out there. Your perspective is important and you never know – it may be the next “big idea”.