5 organisations design students need to know

Whether you need training and networking opportunities or accountancy advice, these companies can help you out.

If you're planning a career working from home and being your own boss, being well prepared and organised is essential. As well as having a cracking creative resume, it can be a good step to begin your freelancing career during your studies but like most new endeavours, you may not know where to start. Get acquainted with these five essential organisations and you'll be well on your way.

01. D&AD

Student freelance help D amp AD

With a free basic membership, D&AD is a good starting point

Basic membership of D&AD is free. There's also an education option with pricing aimed at universities. Education benefits include lectures, industry briefings and discounted entry to the New Blood Awards for people aged 18 to 23 – which are open to non-members too.

02. Typographic Circle

Student freelance help Typographic circle

Typographic Circle is great for your networking needs

You can become a member of the Typographic Circle if you're studying full-time or graduated in the last year, for an annual fee of just £15. Benefits of joining include networking opportunities, free or reduced-price tickets to members-only events, and discounts from selected sponsors.

03. Association of Illustrators

Student freelance help Association of Illustrators

With advice about all aspects of freelancing, the AOI is essential

AOI student membership costs £72 a year – unless you're studying at an AOI member college, in which case you can get affiliated student membership for £50 a year. The AOI provides phone and email advice about all aspects of freelancing, portfolio advice, free accountancy consultations and loads of discounts too.

04. AIGA student membership

Student freelance help AIGA student membership

Discounts, resources and plenty of opportunities arise at AIGA

As the world's largest professional design association, AIGA has membership options aimed at everyone from students to design leaders. There are AIGA student groups on over 200 college campuses in the USA, each affiliated to a local AIGA chapter, and members get access to loads of resources, opportunities and discounts.

05. Art Directors Club

Student freelance help Art Director s Club

Students are held up alongside professionals in the ADC awards

The organisation behind the annual Young Guns competition has a membership option for $50 if you're studying full-time. Creative professionals aged 30 and under can join for $100. ADC offers loads of networking opportunities both on and offline, and runs annual student awards in the same categories as its professional awards.

Illustration: Jamie Coe

These tips first appeared in Computer Arts issue 232, a special issue focusing on design education and packed with insights from Adrian Shaughnessy, Fred Deakin and more, plus a branding masterclass with Wolff Olins.

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Anne Wollenberg is an award-winning freelance journalist who specialises in writing about the creative industry.