Philip VanDusen - 7 Things They Don't Teach You in Design School

Do you think your design degree prepared you enough to survive in this creative economy? Can you confidently say that you have all the tools and knowledge you need to thrive as a creative professional?

Do you think your design degree prepared you enough to survive in this creative economy? Can you confidently say that you have all the tools and knowledge you need to thrive as a creative professional?

In this episode, I talk about 7 things they don’t (but really should!) teach you in design school.

1. Time Management
● They don’t teach how to manage your time working, being accountable to a schedule, and how to have good work/life balance.
● My advice: Use time management apps to organize your day and work on your schedule because if it doesn’t get scheduled, it doesn’t get done.

2. Financial Stuff
● There are no lessons on how to do pricing so you’re profitable, how to manage your finances, or even maintain a budget for your operational expenses.
● My advice: Do budget projections so you know what targets need to be hit and maximize available tools to get your finances organized.

3. How to Get a Job
● It’s frustrating how they don’t cover interview skills, types of design jobs out there, and the nuances between different creative professions.
● My advice: Work on your communication and presentation skills because your work will not speak for itself.

4. How to Market and Position Yourself
● Students aren’t taught how to sell themselves internally for a job promotion or externally in order to be equipped to build their own agency.
● My advice: Zero in on your strengths and come up with solid positioning that makes you marketable on social media for future roles and projects.

5. Navigating Corporate and Agency Life
● There are important soft skills like negotiating and navigating office politics that aren’t covered at all which leave students unable to figure out the best moves to advance their career.
● My advice: Position yourself in a way that you’re always ripe for growth and learn how to manage up so you communicate with superiors as effectively as you communicate with junior colleagues.

6. How to Find Clients
● This is the #1 question I get asked and also the area where I think design schools have failed their students the most.
● My advice: Follow the examples of more seasoned creative professionals who share their process online, look up business development practices, and learn how to leverage your networks for referrals.

7. How to Build Partnerships or Networks
● There are no lessons on the importance of building strong partnerships and networks when these are a goldmine for clients and projects.
● My advice: Build partnerships and networks everywhere, even outside the design department because networks turn into referrals and that’s exactly how you’ll land your next client.

It doesn’t matter if you just graduated or you’ve been out of school for a while. These are stuff they don’t teach and stuff you’re not prepared for but really need to know to survive in this creative economy. So it’s incumbent upon you to achieve a level of knowledge on these non-negotiable skills.

Mentioned in this episode:
My Brand Design Masters Facebook group: https://web.facebook.com/groups/branddesignmasters 
My Brand Design Masters Guild: www.philipvandusen.com/mastermind 
Basecamp Project Management: https://basecamp.com/ 
Calendly Scheduling Software: https://calendly.com/ 
Freshbooks Accounting Software: https://www.freshbooks.com/ 
Google Calendar: https://calendar.google.com/calendar/u/0/r 
Hubspot CRM Platform: https://www.hubspot.com/
LegalZoom: https://www.legalzoom.com/ 
Linkedin learning: https://www.linkedin.com/learning/
Quickbooks Accounting Software: https://quickbooks.intuit.com/
Skillshare Online Learning Platform: https://www.skillshare.com/ 
Toggl Time Tracker: https://toggl.com/track/ 
Trello Project Management: https://trello.com/
Zero Financial Management App: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/zero/id1147308193 

Thanks for listening! If you enjoyed this episode of the podcast, head on over to the following links for more of my work and some valuable resources to get you started on your own branding initiatives. Until the next episode!


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The Brand Design Masters Podcast is targeted to entrepreneurs, designers, creative professionals and anyone interested in brand strategy, business planning, graphic design, personal branding, trends and marketing.

Philip VanDusen is the owner of Verhaal Brand Design, a brand strategy and design agency based in New Jersey. Philip is a highly accomplished creative executive and expert in brand strategy, graphic design, marketing and creative management. Philip provides design, branding, marketing, career and business advice to creative professionals, entrepreneurs and companies on how to build successful brands for themselves and for the clients and customers they serve.

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