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AIGA is a community of designers who have joined together to
develop a network that strengthens both their own practice and
benefits the profession as a whole. AIGA members share an ethos and
observe best practices; they learn together, aspire to the highest
potential use of creativity and are committed to informing the
world about the value of design. To this end, emerging
designers—those of you who may be graduating soon or have recently
entered the profession—have both a place and a role within the AIGA
community. Most of all, you have an opportunity to advance your own
The most important initial opportunity for a graduating student
or a young designer just starting out is to establish a network and
become linked to practicing designers—for mentorship, connections,
information about what is happening in design, and perhaps even
employment. Just as important, however, is the value of a community
in connecting with other designers like you, who share the same
needs and uncertainties. At a time like this, when design job
opportunities are more difficult to find, no designer should feel
alone or disconnected.
AIGA offers specific resources for emerging designers that can
help you transition into what will hopefully become a long and
rewarding design career.
With 22,000 members and 64 chapters across the country, AIGA's
network opens the door to building useful contacts and having your
work be seen by people of influence. The most meaningful
connections are sparked at the local chapter level, although
national AIGA events can also lead to strong relationships among
designers, relationships that are built on shared professional
interests and compatible goals. If you want to make a lasting
impression, real-life social interaction is much stronger than using online social
Just as joining a gym doesn't automatically make you healthier,
you can only benefit from these connections by being involved,
outgoing and engaged. (If this is a challenge for you, then
membership in AIGA could help you to build those skills.)
AIGA Design Jobs
offers members a chance to post a portfolio and connect with
clients and companies seeking a pre-qualified candidate—one who has
made commitment to the future of the profession and upholds its
for professional practice.
AIGA provides both data and insight into the design marketplace.
In May, AIGA will release the 2009 AIGA|Aquent Survey of Design
Salaries, including 10 essays by leading designers from across
the country, offering tips on finding and keeping a job in good
time and bad. We also provide an online interactive salary
calculator for information on the prevailing wages for designers in
various positions throughout the United States.
Last month AIGA launched additional job-seeking advice through
the online features “After School Special,” by
Lynda Decker, and “Get a
Design Job,” by RitaSue Siegel, which also share perspectives
on how to improve your competitiveness in the field. Expect more
career development resources to become available in the months
AIGA offers graduating student members a chance to become
associate members for half price, to ease the transition to
associate membership. This should be every graduating design
student's gift at graduation, either that you give to yourself or
receive from a loved one.
Realizing that it could take longer to get settled financially
in troubled economic times, AIGA extended the associate-level
membership from two to four years (effective June 2008). That means
those graduating this spring will not have to begin paying the
professional-level membership rate until the spring of 2013.
AIGA is urging all designers to take advantage of the current
recession to prepare for the economy's upswing by training and
learning as much as possible. To help you prepare, AIGA offers
discounted access to the full range of lynda.com courses, software
training sessions at many chapters, and webinars on practice management.
Deep discounts on Adobe
software (up to 20 percent off your order before May 31, 2009)
will help you get equipped with the latest tools.
If starting a studio or working freelance is in your plan, the
Center for Practice Management
offers resources, tips and contacts who can help you to build your
business as well as your practice.
Remember, even if the work you desire is hard to find, designers
will always obtain or create work because the economy depends on
you. As Michael Bierut states in his essay for the upcoming
AIGA|Aquent Survey of Design Salaries, designers are “people
that actually create things of lasting value” and “are the ones who
make the rest of the economic system possible.”
So, go out there and be confident. Be active. Know that
design is a powerful driver for the future, and have faith that you
will be part of it. When the market picks up, as it will, make
sure you stand out. AIGA membership, particularly if you accept the
professional standards, will define you as a designer who respects
the expectations of clients, other designers, and society,
signaling that you take your role seriously and fulfill it with
integrity. And we at AIGA will work on building a stronger design
economy for your future.
Richard Grefé is the executive director of AIGA, the professional association for design. While guiding all of AIGA’s activities, his most significant contributions are in strategy, formulating new initiatives to enhance the competitive success of designers
and advocating the value of design to business, government and the public.
AIGA’s chapters allow our members to form powerful social and
professional bonds through conferences, competitions, lectures and
Section: About AIGA -
AIGA’s 15-member board is elected by the entire professional membership
and plays a crucial role in determining the mission of AIGA.
Section: About AIGA -
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