Advice for Design Grads and Juniors

Basic tips for design and creative graduates.

This resource is also available as a downloadable PDF at the end of this article.

We know how hard it is to secure your first creative job in the industry – you’re not alone in that. You’re a talented fish, in a pool teeming with other talented fish!

Here at Gather we get occasional opportunities for entry-level/graduates. These rare opportunities will be advertised as Junior or Graduate jobs. Keep an eye on our Instagram for those job ad posts.

While we may not have a flurry of regular jobs for juniors we want to help and make sure you are 'putting your best foot forward.’ Below is a basic guide to help in your search for your first job after graduation.

  • First and foremost, have your CV and portfolio complete.
  • Design a website using Squarespace or similar platforms to show your work. In that portfolio/website make it clear what is student work and if there are group assignments it’s also a good idea to acknowledge those you worked with.
  • Put thought into your CV. Research. Use Google to find CV designs (but don’t copy them).
  • Create a basic brand for yourself and run it through your CV and portfolio. Don’t go overboard. Remember, simple is often best.
  • Make it clear on your CV what software and programs you know how to use. Avoid infographics.
  • Look at the awards sites, and studios you admire for inspiration. If you aspire to work for them, have your portfolio show it.
  • Get involved in your local design community. Do it while you’re studying. Join up with Design Assembly and follow organisations such as AGDA and DINZ.
    Go to Creative Mornings. Start creating connections.
  • If you can, get a mentor. Even if it is simply to help put your CV and portfolio together. That is where getting involved in the design community could help. By going to events etc. you’ll meet other designers and creatives who might be happy to impart wisdom!

Sending job applications:

  • Put thought into each application you send.
  • Don’t copy and paste. Research each place you send your work to. Find out who the best person or people are to contact.
  • Most CDs etc. see many applications every day...what is going to make yours any different?
  • Don’t just apply to the most popular and best-known studios. They likely get multiple emails every week from job seekers. So again, research. There are so many neat studios in Aotearoa quietly doing amazing work. You just might not have heard of them. Hunt them down, find out who they are.

A few portfolio tips as well...

When putting your portfolio together, it’s important to get it right before applying for roles. Here are few extra tips that might help you when building your profile.

  • A reminder to create a brand for yourself. It can be as simple as a colourway that connects your CV and your portfolio.
  • Keep it simple and clear.
  • Make sure you acknowledge on each case study, who you did the work with and for and what your contribution to the project was. This is very important.
  • If you have any commercial work, use that first and follow up with your student and passion projects.
  • Bring your personality/style to your portfolio while ensuring it’s your case studies that are the heroes.
  • Use PDF or a template website platform like Squarespace or Adobe Portfolio, for example.
  • If you use a PDF format, make sure to keep it 15mb and under if you can.
  • There are other digital portfolio platforms you can use, make sure they are doing your case studies justice.
  • Ask for feedback and advice from your design peers.
  • Research how your favourite studios display their work.

Those are just basic tips and guidelines to get you started. We recommend getting a variety of advice where you can.

From the team at Gather Creative Recruitment, we wish you every success in your creative career and hope to see you at some point on your journey.

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