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Thread: Finding a job?

  1. #1
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    I'm going to be looking for some kind of entry-level web design job soon, hopefully with a design firm and not just an in-house position with a large company. I have a bachelor's degree in one of those 'new media' type programs, though I got started with basic web design while I was still in high school. Not really interested in doing freelance stuff so my 'experience' is mostly limited to what I taught myself & what I learned in college, a few personal sites that I have made for myself, homework assignments, and stuff from a joke "internship" with a company that probably did not survive the 1-year mark. I also currently have a sort of part-time job doing occasional updates to the website of a small company, which I have had for maybe 8 months now. I only know a bit of programming and I'm interested more in the design end of things than the programming end of things.

    I'm really wondering if I can actually expect to be hired by anyone, and how much I can expect to be paid if I DO get hired. The only job ads I ever see are for people who have like 5 years of experience, and they never list salaries for them. Where are all the entry-level jobs? Am I am idiot for thinking this is a viable career choice? What do people normally do to get a foot in the door, so to speak?

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  3. #2
    Senior Member filburt1's Avatar
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    I have learned (and always thought) experience matters more to employers than education. If you went to a company that does web design and development, would you feel confident showing them a portfolio of past sites you've done or worked on?

    Are you looking for small companies and not large ones? The company that hired me is only about 10 employees.
    filburt1, Web Design Forums.net founder
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  4. #3
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    I don't feel confident at all about it, but that's likely just my own paranoia than the actual level of my work. I guess my main problem is that I don't feel like my portfolio demonstrates what I might be fully capable of because I have no formal job experience, no past 'clients', no reason to be sitting around making a new website a week. I don't have any reason to be making them for myself, except for the portfolio website. I also have other random things like photography and 3D modeling in there. Most of the sites are personal/hobby type sites...I don't know if they look down on that sort of thing or not. I have had people on interviews tell me that I have a nice portfolio, but I don't know if they're just saying that to be nice to me, or if they expect something "more" from a graduate. I improve most by having new assignments and challenges and critiques, but obviously it's hard for me to provide myself with those things.

    I'd probably be looking for small companies (aren't most of them small anyway?) but I wasn't planning on being terribly picky.

  5. #4
    Senior Member Steax's Avatar
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    A good bet, in my opinion, is to look for organizations with family ties in them. Making 'em big and good. Don't ever let up a super-cheap rate - the moment one client gets it cheap, the others will want it too. Or, do work for non-profit organizations looking for designs. There are a lot of them.

    Don't worry about your educational status. Just spend more time working on websites, and you'll be alright. I've personally got no education at all on design (being in high school), but people still seek me... because they know I made the websites for well-known organizations.
    Note on code: If I give code, please note that it is simply sample code to demonstrate an effect. It is not meant to be used as-is; that is the programmer's job. I am not responsible to give you support or be held liable for anything that happens when using my code.

  6. #5
    Senior Member planetgman's Avatar
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    With the lack of confidence, I would pass you up based on that more than a lack of a portfolio.
    There are many factors that would determine jobs and pay. First, your area that you are in. I've found that many companies vary from city to city as far as pay and expectation of experience/portfolio.

    My recommendation would be to look through your local job listings (local paper, local online directories, craigslist, etc).
    You can even call around to local companies and just get their opinion or ask them what they look for when hiring someone new. What is important to them?

    A portfolio doesn't always have to be live sites or current designs. You can put your own portfolio together with mock up designs or examples of sites you've made, concepts you might have for a future site, etc.
    There is nothing wrong with taking the time between or before a gig and mocking up some designs to increase the look and strength of your portfolio.

    During interviews people tend to forget that an interview goes both ways. You should be asking questions to show an interest in the company or be finding out if you would like working there.
    When they say you have a nice portfolio, ask them what they like about it. Ask them what they would like to see more of or what is it they are looking for. Go back when they don't hire you and ask them what you can do next time to secure a position.

    Experience does matter, but if you are looking for entry level positions, the only thing they will have to go by is your interview and your portfolio.
    If you don't feel your portfolio is strong enough to get you hired, then chances are that is what will happen.
    Your confidence goes a long way during an interview.

    Is your portfolio online? Do you have a print version you take to interviews? If so, how does it look? Is it organized? Does it look top notch?

    Do your homework. Call local companies and ask them questions. Most will appreciate the interest in their company and that you are asking their opinion. It can only help you establish what you can expect as far as pay and job availability.

    Good luck.........
    GMan

  7. #6
    Senior Member Steax's Avatar
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    A nice trick I figured out a while ago was to put not only completed sites in your portfolio, but also some development stage images and you might also give some examples about your development process. Clients enjoy knowing how you work; they know what to expect, what they should prepare, and in general they know more about you.
    Note on code: If I give code, please note that it is simply sample code to demonstrate an effect. It is not meant to be used as-is; that is the programmer's job. I am not responsible to give you support or be held liable for anything that happens when using my code.

  8. #7
    Senior Member Eddy Bones's Avatar
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    Make sure you can design for small sites and big sites alike. I'm primarily like to think of myself as a programmer, but the concept here is the same: do a case study. Make up a company as realistically as possible and design a site for them. In the end nobody should ever know that it's a fake company unless you tell them. If all you've done so far is little sites, try to design something like Amazon. That'll definitely stretch your skills.

    Your portfolio should be your lifeline. It needs to look good and you need to feel good about it. Its only purpose is for you to show what you can do, so if it doesn't then you have some work to do. You surely don't need to freelance to get experience, but know that it may be beneficial. The real test of a designer is when they can design for someone else and have them enjoy the result (teachers don't count in the least).

  9. #8
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    I'm pretty sure I can convince people that I think I'm good at what I do, even if I don't actually think that. It's just whether or not they agree with me. And whether or not they will take on someone who only has one paid work experience.

    In my portfolio, I basically have: 2 of what I call 'hobby' sites, both for the same general subject but one was mine (how I learned web design to begin with) and one was a redesign for some people I'm friends with...that particular site has hundreds (if not thousands) of pages and I have a couple people that are supposed to be working under my direction so I was going to try to explain it from a 'managing' perspective; 1 very simple website for a club I was in at school; 1 prototype I made that was altered and made into a live site; 1 prototype for a project that was essentially abandoned; the paid job where I did an entire structural overhall of their 1000 page site & gave it a slight facelift; and the portfolio itself along with the previous version of it. I'm probably also going to end up with a flash tutorial on there, that I've been working on for something else. Does that seem like it'd be relatively sufficient to get an entry-level position?

    I did go on a bunch of interviews while I was looking for an internship, and I got a sense of the kinds of skills they wanted their interns to have. I guess I'm just worried that they won't give someone who hasn't officially been tested a chance (unless it's one of those "I guess we'll let you work for us, we can pay you in experience" deals).

    And again I'd like to point out because some people seemed to have missed it, I've never done freelance work and I'm not interested in it. Maybe in a few years I will change my mind, but I don't want to deal with it right now.


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