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Communications Design Industry Discussion, Inspiration, & Tutorials

Dec 21, 2008

Interview Question: What are your Goals?

By On 08:44

What are your long-term goals?
What are you professional goals?
Where do you see yourself in 2, 5 years, or 10, etc.?

These are basically the same question. This is not merely an inquiry as to whether you'll stick with the company for the foreseeable future. When this questions arises in an interview setting, the interviewers likely want to gain insight into you as person, your self-awareness, and your communication skills.

Here are a few Wrong Answers: 

  1. "In five years I plan to be the director of marketing at this company, managing a small but innovative team--working to grow the brand of this company." Is this even an option within the company or department where you're applying. Unless you're 100% sure, that your vision for the company is in line with their strategic plans, goals and direction, this goal shows inflexibility. It also connotes a low opinion of the current 'brand'. 
  2. "Hmm, with this busy final semester and graduation, I haven't really had time to think about it." This answer will likely prompt a few follow up questions that you really don't want to answer...What have you had time to think about? Realistically, this answer shows a lack of vision, planning, and creative thinking. 
  3. "Well, in a few years I hope to be back in school working on my MFA in order to become tenured faculty at X University." This answer states, without stating, that you are killing time in the potential job. You are either looking a company to pay for your advanced degree or a place to wait until you get into grad school. 

How about the Right Answer:

What are your goals? What do you really want. Most successful business people will tell you that a key success factor is the ability to set and achieve goals. Think about this before you get to the interview. Is this job a stepping-stone for the next professional level? How does this job factor into your real long-term goals.

Monster.Com says to Script it Consider this answer:

"I have learned that long-term goals are best achieved when I break them into shorter goals. My short-term goal is to find a position that will put me in a forward-moving company with solid performance and future projections. As part of a team, I want to add value and continue to grow the company. My long-term goal will depend on where the company goes. My plan is to move into a position of responsibility where I can lead a team."

How Do I answer this question?

Honestly. Whenever asked about my goals I have always had only one answer. I want to continue to grow, learn and develop. I want my horizons to be ever expanding. Professionally, this means that I see myself as a perpetual teacher and student. Personally, I talk to strangers, read voraciously, travel, and ask questions.

In an interview setting, I tend to polish it up a bit, but this is my truth. What is your truth...where do you see yourself in the future?

Dec 7, 2008

Interview Questions: Ace the Telephone Interview

By On 10:14
Once, I totally failed a phone interview! It was embarrassing, and I  regret the entire experience. Eventually, I may write about it for my "Worst Interview Ever" series.

For now, you have the benefit of my experience. Here are a few of of the usual questions and a step-by-step guide on how to answer them:

Tell me about yourself... is usually the first question. 
1. Do not recite your life story; they want to know if meeting you is a good use of their time. 
2. Talk about the educational and professional experiences that have shaped your career.
3. This answer should not exceed 2 minutes.

My stock answer for this goes along these lines:
I have an extensive background in fine arts and chose to study graphic design in college. While there, I was offered an assistantship that allowed me continue my education. So, I studied Publications Design and fell in love with the field. I completed several freelance projects for a diverse group of clients in grad school. Regarding my career, I've always worked in either education settings or in the non-profit sector. My current work is for X organization. I was drawn to it because of their commitment to teaching the arts in public schools.
That's basically it. I do elaborate where necessary, but I stick to this script.

Tell me about your experience… Your response to this must be relevant to this job, and the specific skills you bring. The 2 things to remember when aswering this question are:
1. Give a brief synopsis of your professional experience, as listed on your resume,
2. Find the priority  requirements in their original job posting, and connect these to the work that you've done in the past.

What are your strengths? Pick three. Be warned, concrete software skills should not dominate the conversation. Highlight your creativity, attention to detail, ability to assimilate new information, or collaborative work style.

What are your weaknesses? Pick one or 2--no more. Briefly identify a weakness and present your strategy to overcome it.

What are your salary requirements? Okay, I'm not sure exactly how to answer this. Don't answer this one so early in the game. Your salary requirements are negotiable.

A good strategy is to say that at this point you don't know enough about the scope of work at this company to give a range.

When the interview ends, you will be asked if you have questions of your own. One writer advises that you "take the initiative and ask, 'The most pressing question I have is when can we meet?'" Frankly, if you feel confident about the previous 30 minutes, go for it.
Here are some other good questions:
1. Will I work directly with clients? Who would I  with on a daily basis?
3. Is there a lot of collaboration between the designers and the other departments?
4. How does your company support professional development?

Learn More About:

Oct 8, 2008

You’ve applied, interviewed, and got the offer!

By On 04:44
Now What?

When you get the job offer, don't be taken by surprise and forget to negotiate. You can't just blurt out a “Yes, when do I start.” Employers expect you to take time to consider the conditions of your employment.

This is your opportunity to establish your market value as a designer:
  1. Figure out your personal costs, cost of living, student load debt, etc. 
  2. Find out comparable companies in your region pay their graphic designers, and 
  3. Balance that information against your personal strength as a designer.

In addition to money, other things are definitely negotiable. Make a list of your desires and prioritize them.  Negotiable items in your offer may include health benefits, paid vacations, unpaid leave,  your start date, flex time, and daily working hours (not everyone thrives on a 9-5 schedule).

You can compromise on some items for others that are more important to you. Just be sure to be clear about the offer, ask questions, and take the time to consider it. Try to adjust whatever is not satisfactory now. It is important to start off a relationship with clarity and trust. 


Let's say you haven't gotten to this point yet, but the interviewer wants to nail down your price early in the interview process...learn how to handle that and other interview questions.

Sep 1, 2008

Lynda.com Freebies

By On 09:44
Undergrad taught me two things:  never stop learning, and design freebies are out there if you simply look for them. Lynda.com isn't exactly a freebie, but it is a great inexpensive resource that will help you learn everything about the software tools in you Graphic Design Toolkit. In my junior and senior years I regularly purchased month-long memberships to this online learning community and took advantage of the tutorials.

If paying the monthly fee is out of the question, consider signing up for the Lynda newsletter. It regularly showcases new tutorials and recordings, tips and tricks, AND even some free tutorials/courses.

Get on over there and start learning! www.Blog.Lynda.com

Jun 28, 2008

2008 Identity, Posters, Magazine and Collateral

By On 11:03

These identities were created for individuals with small/growing business issues. The questions of elegance and relevance were addressed and mastered with all. 
The posters are a combination of work done for school and work done for individuals. My main goal was to show different treatments of style, use of fonts and vector illustration.

The Stripper spread is a piece created for a class that incorporated photography, journalism, layout. bittbox.com was an invaluable resource.

I had a lot of fun hanging out with bike messengers when researching the Guinness Bike Race poster.  My buddy Erin hosted the race around Baltimore and gave me more information than any non-messenger ever needs to aid in my creation of the poster. Prof. Smith loved it--not sure if it was because of his love of Baltimore's teeming subculture or his passion for a perfectly poured pint.

The Typography poster is a homage to one of my fave graphic and typography designers, Herb Lubalin.  I've since revisited the design. But I still love the starting point!

The Caribbean Nights Cruise poster and post cards were fun to work on. They were among the first pieces that I created for a large community event.  Simon Fong, selected the super fun typeface that brought the design to life!! Thanks Simon.

All of these early designs have a story.