5 Things I learned at a full-time job compared to college


Getting my first ‘big girl job’ has been a whirlwind of an experience and working at an actual design company is vastly different from my college classes. College is great and all, but there are many things you can’t learn in a classroom, for example:

1. How to deal with designer’s block

As a full-time designer and working in the office for 8 hours a day, I’ve had to learn how to overcome a creative block. In college, if I ever got stuck on a project I could step away and revisit it the next day because I had anywhere from 2 to 7 days to complete the first pass. At work, if I get stuck I can’t afford to sit at my desk stumped for 8 straight hours. There are still deadlines to be met even if I’m having trouble generating ideas. I’ve learned to jump between multiple projects at once while remaining efficient with my deadlines. It’s still a learning process, but it’s about training myself to be attentive to inspiration around me and versatile with my designs.

2. You can’t take a ‘B’ in the real world

In college, there is always the option to just settle for a lower grade if you didn’t want to work hard. We have all done it! You get assigned a big project or a long essay and instead of working hard to get that A+, you just throw together something decent that will get a passing grade and not hit your overall percentage too hard. Well, those tricks don’t exactly work past graduation. There have been days where I wanted to do that so badly. I just wanted to rush and finish up a project in hopes the next one would be more appealing. Yes, everyone has their own niches, but the reality of this industry forces every designer to be well rounded, even in the areas we don’t particularly like.

3. One hour is a whole lot faster than you think

The concept of ‘hours per project’ was a whole new world to me once I began working. Each project we receive has an allotted amount of time dedicated to it based on the client’s budget. And unless I want to be working for free, I need to abide by the hour limit. Once again, in college, limits on time did not exist for projects. I would work on the project all day and all night if I needed to. Whatever it took to get it done. On my very first project here at Rokusek, I had 3-4 hours to create a rough draft for a logo design. I blinked, the four hours were up, and I barely had a stick figure drawn on my paper. This has taught me to compartmentalize my time and be more efficient. I still get caught in the Pinterest vortex, but it’s getting better.

4. The client’s vision is THE vision

Before working a real job, in my college assignments, I was always my own client. This was great because I never had to deal with the client not liking my design or having clashing visions. Sometimes as a designer, you can hit the nail on the head with your first design, but often it takes some edits and possibly a complete scrap and start over. Clients typically have a vision of what they want and it is our job to give them that vision. So, in order to do that, we need to see things from their perspective and understand their brand. This might force us into a design style that is very different from our norm. It pushes us outside of our comfort zone and ultimately gives us a larger repertoire.

5. There is no such thing as ‘downtime’

I’ve learned to scratch the term ‘downtime’ from my vocabulary since working. There are times where your workload may be lighter or you finish a project early, therefore resulting in some free time before your next project. In college, if I finished early, I could leave class and use this time to finish an entire season on Netflix. Since you can’t exactly leave the office and go home at 10am, I have learned to use this extra time as ‘practice time’. If I don’t have any pressing project deadlines, I like to do some design research or exercises. I might mock up some practice designs or watch tutorials to exercise my skills to make myself better prepared for my next project.