Friday, 18 May 2012

The Real Graduate Catch Up

As design degree deadlines loom upon us, I expect soon-to-be graduates to look to their superiors in search of guidance. As a respected, regularly updated and simply, cool, design blog, It's Nice That is a popular source of graduate wisdom with its annual features showcasing the best of the year's graduates.  Whilst it is not the only example, I am focusing on it having known a handful of the selected graduates personally.

A selection of talented graduates are chosen from readers' submissions, showing a healthy cross-section of the creative industry with illustration, film, advertising, photography and visual communication. With the rising popularity of this blog the coverage a graduate can receive can be life changing with a feature on each graduate and a popular exhibition in which high-ranking design industry creatives attend.

For a soon-to-be graduate, I can imagine the Graduate Catch-Up featured each year can be either incredibly inspiring or intimidating reading. Each graduate recounts their year since graduating with endless freelance opportunities and widespread commissions, with not a mention of unpaid work, government help or persistent rejection. The Catch-Up gives a rose-tinted view into the lives of 12 talented individuals after graduation. Here is why you should not be intimidated:

Firstly, they are talented individuals, who are likely to have in addition to being selected and showcased, won competitions or gained alot of interest from their degree show. Not all graduates will be this talented and therefore won't have as much success. What the Catch-Up shows is what they consider to be the elite and so are already in effect successful.

With the coverage that The Graduates of It's Nice That recieve, it is unlikely that talented creatives could fail. After all the post-degree show hype has settled, they will still be reeping the benefits with offers of jobs or freelance opportunities, whilst the rest of the year's graduates have to source out their own.

Whilst many doors are opened with media coverage, it is up to the individual to act upon those opportunities before they go stale. Not all of the graduates had successes, whether or not this is highlighted in the Catch-Up. After all, each graduate will be shown in the best light and so rejections and lazy days at the dole office won't be brought up. It could be said that receiving such widespread attention from the design industry can be a blessing and a curse. Expectations are high as we read the Catch-Up and so the pressure is on to impress the readership further with positivity and hope, if not simply a success story. In a way the attention can make you lazy. Expecting the opportunities to come to you may mean less effort is made to create your own successes. The blog attention could also mean a premature ego boost, in which you feel you are too good for work experience or placements and perceive yourself as industry ready. The arrogance fueled by competition winning, high grades or positive attention can damage others' perceptions of you as you become too big for your designer high-tops. 

I urge soon-to-be graduates to read success stories but with the knowledge that embarking on a design career is not all roses and there will be times when you are pushed down repeatedly. I had a rose-tinted view of the future and I wish I had been prepared for the reality. As AnotherGraduate, I can prepare you for that.

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