Where the design community meets.
Everyones path is a little different when it comes to professional development as a designer. But it's all a question of growth and thinking about your end goals is the best starting point to map out the steps to achieving them.
When I was a junior designer the thing that helped me grow me the most was feedback from my superiors. There are different kinds of feedback you can seek but as a junior designer you might start by focusing on more senior designers who can deliver feedback around your design choices and design output. Ranging from stylistic critique, your ability to interpret a brief, your design approach, your ability to solve a clients problem, and how well you can communicate your designs to other designers and more importantly non-designers.
So when you put forward your designs at the agency, and they weren't used these are things you could think about and talk to with a senior designer.
These is a specific example, but at a higher level your growth is really determined by you and your ability to:
(1.) Create opportunities that will help you get to where you want to be, and
(2.) How you make the most of those opportunities to ensure you grow
Another thing you mentioned was that you felt like you didn't have enough big pieces to showcase as part of your folio. Well why don't find or create a brief for yourself and design something? I'm sure you've seen or experienced something about a product or service that you think could be better so why not try and improve it? Visually the designs don't have to be at the level of a senior designer, but showing your design thinking skills and process of solving a problem is what will distinguish you from other designers especially as a junior.
Taking the initiative to create opportunities like this for yourself is the best way to take control of your growth. And it's what a lot of senior designers will be looking for when hiring a junior, as this reflects your thinking, process and ultimately how you arrived at a final solution. The visual elements of a design can always be tweaked but if the thinking and decision making are not explained or not well considered it doesn't matter what it looks like, as the end result is just fluff. This a common mistake I see from junior designers and I too was guilty of it!
Another thing that I found really helpful was just reaching out to designers I admired and asking them out for a coffee. I promise you that most designers will happily free up an hour and talk to you as they were in the same position themselves. Being able to hear about their experiences first hand and getting their expertise will be a big difference maker and reminder that we all started somewhere. And its always a great way of expanding your network and uncovering new possibilities.
As a junior you don't have anything to lose by trying new things and reaching out to people. I'm not sure where your located but if you're in Hong Kong I'd be happy to get a coffee, or if your located elsewhere lets exchange emails or skype sometime to chat more!
Thank you so much for your generous sharing. That's really helpful! I am now studying and living in Melbourne but I am from mainland China. I would love to be friends with you.
No problem! If you like send me your email and we can chat sometime.
There seems no message function in this site. I just type my email here: email@example.com
OK sent :)
Where the design community meets.
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