It can often be pretty damn hard to get a job in the design world once you get that shiny piece of graduation paper. Thankfully, The Design Kids are here to help. Dreamt up by graphic designer Frankie Ratford, the focus of TDK is to connect students with industry professionals before they graduate, helping them potentially earn straight after they learn.
In the latest instalment of Taking Care of Business, we asked Frankie to give us a few tips on finding success when it comes to the design world. If you’re after some more specific advice, sign up for Frankie’s Pedestrian Coach session.
Why did you decide to start The Design Kids?
After five years in the design industry I felt like I wasn’t really playing at my strengths. I wanted to contribute more, work for myself, and travel. My main challenge was I wanted to be a graphic designer but not sit at a desk, which sounds impossible! Nowadays I find myself on design road trips, giving lectures, meeting people at exhibitions and blogging at design conferences. It’s fun!
How much trouble did you have finding work when you first started your design career?
None really, I was very lucky! I already had 3 years experience when I finished uni, and had a clear goal of what I wanted – to work at Frost* Design in Sydney. I worked really hard and just focused on that goal – and luckily they hired me and I moved to Sydney straight after graduating. This was 2008 – and every year it gets harder and harder to find work. Hopefully what I’m doing with TDK is easing that pain and giving students a chance to build relationships with people in the industry before they finish, making that transition easier.
What has been your favourite thing about TDK so far?
Depending on what day you ask me, I’ll either love or hate what I do. It looks fun, but there’s a lot of juggling, late nights, and stress, especially around money as I never wanted to charge the students for this service. It’s finally moving forward, with our new major sponsor Tractor Design School (thanks guys!) so it’s one less thing to worry about. I really think though it’s the little things that count – an email from a graduate saying what an impact TDK has had on their life, all the little success stories make it worth while.
When working on projects, where do you draw your inspiration from?
I do still do design, even though a lot of my time is spent hooking other people up now. My new folio site is coming soon hopefully in the next few weeks. Travel is mega inspiring; colours, type, pattern, people, studios. I like a certain efficiently in design, not doing stuff for the sake of it. The problem solving aspect is definitely my favourite, and taking the brief way beyond what is required.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Do whatever it takes to surround yourself with extraordinary people. You are the average of your five closest friends, so make them good ones!
Have you had any horror moments when it comes to networking or trying to impress someone?
Networking is always a bit awkward – I prefer to make friends with people and have a genuine relationship instead of one based on you trying to get something. I hate it when someone doesn’t introduce another person that joins the conversation, so I always make an effort. Once I introduced two flatmates to each other, haha! Sorry Luke and Aaron : )
What’s coming up for TDK?
SO MANY THINGS! I’m working around the clock, the new initiatives on the site just launched – competitions, internships, jobs, showcasing students’ work via Instagram (#tdkpeepshow), our city based newsletter and our events calendar. We’re also doing the follow up to the Terrible Twos and Threesome exhibitions, called Fourplay, this year in nine cities, coming soon! Then I’m off to NZ to start TDK New Zealand styles. More road tripping and exhibitions (free beer), hooray!
To learn more about networking and how to score your dream design job, sign up to get coached by Frankie Ratford.