Starting out as a designer is hard, the hours are long, it requires a great deal of dedication and you’re not going to get very far without talent.
I’ve got some tips for talented designers who want to get a little bit further. Some are about developing soft skills and other is procedure, but I think all of these could easily be applied to other roles in other jobs.
In no particular order:
Be Ready For Work
Be at your desk, ready to work when you are supposed to. Don’t arrive at work at 09h00, make coffee, have a chat, do some Pinterest and Facebook then start work at 09h30. If you are supposed to start work at 09h00, arrive 30 minutes early to get ready for the day. People will think you are keen and focused.
Learn how to apply focus whenever you are at work. It takes time, but the best work comes when you are focused and not distracted with other things. Find your focus and bring it to work, everyday, for a 09h00 start.
Respond to emails and include the relevant stakeholders. People are trying to look out for you and if you don’t include them in your mails they won’t know what’s happening or be able to help if you miss something.
Write Stuff Down
Missing feedback in reverts is one of the worst things you can do. If you get feedback and you don’t include it in your next round of reverts, whoever is helping you will feel like they are wasting their breath. Write everything down, get good at lists, don’t present work that doesn’t include feedback, or at least feedback on the feedback (why you didn’t include it).
A key step to moving up a career path is responsibility, so take ownership of your tasks. That means if you don’t know how to do something, google it, figure it out, do whatever it takes to get it done. Then when you do seek help, you’ll understand the subject matter more and won’t appear to have just given up. People are more likely to help if you have really put in an effort.
Deadlines are tricky, but a necessary evil. Try your hardest not to miss them. They won’t matter a year after the deadline (unless you never found another job after being fired), but a lot of people will get really mad if you miss deadlines. Especially if you were too busy having a chat by the coffee machine at 09h15 yesterday…
In Malcom Gladwell’s book; Outliers: The Story of Success, he says it takes 10 000 hours to become an expert in something. The question is do you want to be an expert in 3 years or 7 years? Do some overtime, get better, get better quickly. Do overtime.
Everybody does things differently, which is what makes the world beautiful. But until you find a process that works for you, you’ll constantly have to think really hard about how to get things done. My advice is to find a process that works for you, learn that process word for word and apply that process to everything you do. You will find you get lost far less and are able to accept responsibility and get things done.
Find a dream and reach for it. It won’t come and find you. (In other words work really really hard if you want to achieve something)