Career Questions: Graphic Designer, Web Designer, Social Media Manager

Having been graduated from university since spring 2012, it’s odd to be reflective on my “career” already. But recently a student interviewed me for an assignment, and since it was typed out, the full Q&A is shared here.

Q1: As a teenager, what did you think your career/job would be as an adult?
When younger, somewhere around a Teacher or Architect. In High School, it shifted to something in the Creative industry like Advertising or Design.

Q2: What was your first paid work experience? Was it during high school or afterward? How many hours a week did you work? What did you get paid?

First paid work experience was during high school, where I first worked at my local church office (for up to 10-20 hours per week, at then-low minimum wage). But in terms of a Graphic Design or Web Design job, my first one also took place while in high school (on a per-project basis) and although it felt like a decent amount of pay at the time, the client did not end up continuing his website project.

Q3: What three things did you learn from that job? Did these experiences help shape your career and current job?

I started learning — and continue to learn — that my time is limited and that design and tech skills are vital and valuable, so I should apply and price them accordingly. I also learned that making a plan, sketching out an idea and outlining it into a full concept, is very useful and worthwhile (instead of simply starting only with an initial thought).

Q4: As you continued on your educational and career path, did you have a mentor who inspired you to approach the working world in a certain way?

Peter Fujiwara, my high school Communications Technology teacher and Zahra Ebrahim, my professor for the Think Tank courses at OCAD University have been the most significant mentors as well as inspirations and motivators. From helping to solving crises, giving situation-specific advice, to teaching me everything from technical skills to business practices to creative thinking, they’ve been incredible resources and connectors in their own unique ways.

Q5: Can you provide a brief description of your current job position and your employer? Did you ever expect to be working in this job?

I currently operate my own business, Daniel Design Canada, where I work on design and web related projects for clients (including small businesses, school boards, charities, individuals and more). I’ve always wanted to have my own business and clients, since elementary school even (one summer I even designed posters for my “company” at that time simply an idea/dream). The new areas I dove into including social media and blogging/writing weren’t as expected earlier, but I completely love the area as well and created The Now Digital Network.

Q6: How many jobs have you had before this one? What were they and how did these experiences prepare you for your current job?

About 5 small part-time jobs and contracts elsewhere. I learned about scheduling and communication with clients including the priority of customer service. Being trained in and part of the Apple retail culture was unique and valuable.

Q7: Did you need any specific education or training in order to qualify for your current job? If so, what was it? If not, what skills or education do you wish you had? How did you get that education and training?

Along with being a Provisional RGD (Registered Graphic Designer in Ontario), I earned a Bachelor of Design degree (BDes) in Graphic Design from OCAD University, and am now adding to that with a certificate in Digital Media and Communications from University of Toronto (currently in progress).

The education has helped me approach tasks and challenges in a variety of ways and use references.
I’ve also had short internships that have helped me see the industry and system operating.

Q8: What do you enjoy most about your work and what do you find most challenging?

I enjoy the connections and relationships I can constantly begin and build with my clients and team members, as well as the flexibility of my schedule and location (anywhere with WiFi and a power outlet can work for me!). The opportunity to create something from scratch, or visualize a client’s idea, is very rewarding.

The challenging aspects are in scheduling, balancing creation and everything else since many projects are ongoing, and meeting everybody’s needs with limited resources at times (or working with such a broad range of clients).

Q9: If you could give one piece of advice to high school students about planning their careers, what would it be?

Don’t lock yourself down to one career. Keep an entire field open once you do choose. Speak to people in the industry you’re looking at. Definitely consider the Entrepreneurial option of starting your own business or nonprofit organization!

Q10: What would you have done differently in high school, knowing what you now know about careers and work experience?

Possibly would’ve taken more business courses, if anything. I had an amazing experiences in both Communications Technology and Creative Advertising, so there’s not much else I would add!

Q11: Was it easy finding your current job? Was there a lot of competition when it came to applying for it?

There’s a huge amount of competition in the design and web industries. It’s a huge risk jumping in as a freelancer and business owner, but can definitely be worthwhile in many aspects. Though I’m not looking at the moment, I’ve applied for a few positions and postings which have been rare and competitive.

Q12: What would you say is the most important thing to keep in mind when exploring potential career paths?

Don’t commit to one career path for 40 years. Be open to a path that can change and evolve and allow you to explore your talents, skills and interests. Again consider becoming an entrepreneur, creating your own business or organization. Before applying for school programs, check the job prospects and job availability.

“Risk must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. Only the person who risks is free.” – Leo Buscalia