Showing up is more than just being present. It starts even before you get in your car for an interview, or before that 8:00am class you dread. You have to show up for every interview, job fair, social media function, design class, and lecture. It is something everyone is capable of doing, but few actually pull off. It can make all the difference in the world.
Below are 8 ways you can build your resume by just “showing up.” That is, by being prepared and participating in the design community. Even if these tips don’t yield projects, the experiences and connections will give you a distinct advantage over every other applicant.
1. Read (Shows a well read and informed person)
If your not a fan of books or reading online, you may want to change your thinking. In this age of information overload, there are tons of online blogs, magazines and books out there (like this one) written by industry. Also, it is a good idea to look at places like the W3C to know the rules and history of the web. How can you break boundaries in an industry without knowing what they are?
2. Become a Fan (Shows an interest in what you do)
Find someone in web design that you admire, whether it be a web designer, CEO or a blogger. Finding someone that you like in web design can help you get a better understanding of what you like, and what type of career path you would like to take. You may want to consider contacting them if possible and letting them know you enjoy their work.
3. Find a Mentor (Shows humility and willingness to be critiqued)
This can be very difficult for students because they are often intimidated by asking someone to mentor them, but its one of the best things you can do for career development. Truthfully, finding a mentor can be remarkably easy. Look for a professor, instructor or contact a designer you admire (see above) and ask them questions about the industry, and about how they got started. Building a relationship this way will hopefully parle into a reference or even a job referral.
4. Be Awake, Alert and Early (Shows competence)
Always get a good night sleep and leave yourself plenty of time so you are never rushed for an interview or class. If you find yourself being really early, go to a coffee shop or bookstore and write down what you want to happen from your meeting or class. Also, never push yourself so far that your work suffers due to lack of sleep.
5. Be a Winner (Shows determination and will)
Always be realistic about goals and set them so they are difficult, but achievable. Setting many tiny goals and building to one main one large one will keep you on track and confident as well as keeping your level of stress down. Remember, it’s always better to deliver things early than ask for an extension. You may think its amazing to do a site in 1 night, but Im sure the client would rather have some time and thought put into his/her project.
6. Be a Fast Talker (Shows leadership)
Take a public speaking class. In fact take two. As a web designer, it is your job to communicate, and the easier it is for you to talk about your ideas, the easier it will be for people to picture them. People with good speaking abilities are rare and you can assert yourself as an authority almost immediately if you know how to communicate well. I would also suggest watching and going to as many lectures (not just on design) as possible, and definitely check out the TED talks on design.
7. Be a Guru (Shows individuality and authority)
Many young web designers make the mistake by trying to learn everything in web design right away. But with all the technology involved in design today, it can be very hard to know everything within 2-4 years of being in school. Therefore, try to become an expert in 1 thing and use that as your doorway. So if you are great at WordPress, you can look for a entry job and gain experience and study the other forms of web design while at that job.
8. Be “One of Us” (Shows that you belong)
Participate in as much as you can. Join communities online, go to workshops and conferences (I find the best is to go to them while I’m on vacation), build an “experience resume” so you always have something industry related to talk about. Joining clubs is always a great way to network as well.