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3 Necessary Traits for New Pros in Design

WRITTEN by: Helen Owens |
categories: Branding

Sep 2014


In less than a month I went from being a college art school kid to becoming a part of the Upward Creative team.

Designing in college was a ton of fun. I was super creative and made packaging for robots and lollipops. There wasn’t anyone limiting me, and there were no budget limits (other than my Taco Bell paycheck).

So how did I go from being an unregulated designer to one of the many new pros in design Upward? (And for the record I’m not even a “professional” yet, forgive me, I’m still learning.)

I believe there are three traits you absolutely need for a smooth transition into a career as a design professional.

1. Become a problem solver

When a client has a problem, they’re looking to you to solve it—no matter what it may be. So whether you were the first kid to finish your rubix cube or you had to put every single piece into that 1,000-piece unicorn puzzle, showing your problem solving skills early on as a new professional is important.

2. Get creative

Think outside of the box to fix problems, and do it in a way that your competitors aren’t. You can’t make it to the moon without thinking out of this world, so go out of your comfort zone, go for a walk or stand on your head. Be the one who is different, because being different will set you and your clients apart.

3. Taste

There’s a quote by Ira Glass that says, “Nobody tells this to people who are beginners…there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer.” Glass goes on to discuss how young designers basically have to work past this and do as much work as they can until their taste and skill are on the same level. So even if you hate your work at the beginning, remember that good taste will eventually take you where you want to go.

Start thinking outside the box, stop steering away from coloring outside the lines, and put together that unicorn puzzle in the best way possible. One day it’ll pay off. You’ll realize being different isn’t such a bad thing when it comes to solving problems.  What traits do you think are needed to survive as a new pro in design? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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