Image licensed via Adobe Stock
You learn a lot in college. But there are only so many hours in the day, so certain things inevitably get minimised or left off the syllabus altogether. This means fresh graduates often enter the profession with knowledge gaps they may not be aware of.
To plug some of these holes, we asked our followers on Twitter to share the lessons they’ve learned from working in the creative industries since graduating. The stuff they can’t really teach you at uni or college, as it’s only really possible to learn “on the job”. Here are some of their top tips, plus you can read the full range of advice
1. The importance of money
At college and university, you learn all about how to come up with creative ideas and put them into practice. What you don’t often hear too much about, however, are the naked financial realities of design agency life.
“Most universities and colleges in the UK teach you how to make appealing things but not how to work within a business,” points out course provider
“I learned an awful a lot more about design and the creative industry after I left school,” says designer
2. That you’ll need to work faster
One of the big shocks of moving from an academic environment to a commercial one is the need for speed. Keeping clients happy is about meeting deadlines, and often those deadlines are blisteringly tight. So you’ll almost certainly have to learn to work faster than your current rate.
“While I’m not saying I’m a fan of it, the truth is that fast is appealing for agencies because they pay you a salary and charge you out at an hourly rate,” says Asa. “So the quicker you work, the thicker their markup. ‘How long would that take you?’ is a common question about portfolio work for that reason.”
Consequently, says marketing manager
Designer and artist
3. Creative freedom is not a given
Another thing you have a lot of in education, but which can be in short supply within the workplace, is creative freedom. “You always get to run with your own ideas at uni,” notes illustrator
Doing so can be depressing, as you feel like you’ve entered the profession under false pretences. But don’t worry, says senior designer
4. There’s a lot you don’t know
There’s no nice way of saying this, but there’s SO much you have to learn as a fresh design graduate. And if you’ve been the star student on your course, that can be hard to accept. But if you don’t, you’ll come across as arrogant and exactly the kind of new intake that other designers steer clear of. So find some humility and adjust that attitude as quickly as you can.
As senior creative
When does this stop? Quite frankly, never. As graphic designer
That said, don’t go too far and stress yourself out, adds design and communications executive
5. It’s a people business
Talent will only get you so far. Design is fundamentally a people business, and without people skills, you’ll be doomed to failure. So art director
6. Uni is still there for you
Finally, remember that, just because you’ve left education, your teachers haven’t abandoned you. In fact, colleges and universities generally put a lot of effort into trying to help their alumni succeed (it’s in their interests because they want to brag about you later down the line). So make sure you keep in touch and reach out when you need help and advice.
“You can actually get more support out of university than you do in it,” say the good people at