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Study an array of subjects in addition to design and be involved
in current affairs. Throughout your career, you'll work with
multiple audiences: A broad understanding of business, the arts,
the sciences and technology will be essential for wise
In the future, design courses should ideally be treated like
pre-med, pre-law, or pre-MBA classes—as preparation for an advanced
degree. Think about it: If leaders in medicine, law and business
had been trained first as designers, their views today might be
richer, broader, more innovative. Steve Jobs is an inspirational
example of bringing a designer's perspective to the technology of
computers. In his case, it changed the face of business. How and
what can you learn now that will prepare you to learn about design
Big ideas are made up of details. Your intelligence is
demonstrated in those details. Put design elements together in a
deliberate way. Be aware of how your notes and files are organized,
how your thoughts are layered, how you present yourself and how you
take care of others. All of those details are part of craftsmanship
and will help you succeed.
College is only the beginning. Use your college years to learn
broadly and build a portfolio that opens minds and doors. Ask your
professors to challenge your work; go beyond what's required.
Attend design conferences. Study industrial, product, architecture,
fashion, theater, film/video and interactive design. After college,
stay involved; keep learning, questioning, growing. Knowing how
much there is to know will keep you humble, and creativity and
humility make a good pair.
Volunteer for your professional design association. Mentor,
write articles, teach. Use design to change minds about critical or
controversial topics. By giving, you will get much back.
This essay originally appeared in the 2010AIGA|Aquent Survey of Design
Thinking about going freelance? An insider's look at the pros and cons, plus helpful tips and advice on how to build a successful freelance career.
Section: Tools and Resources
This webcast is part of the “INitiative” webcast series, which offers diverse and thoughtful presentations by influential in-house designers.
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