1 Ask questions...
Even if you’re just an intern and it’s your first day in the studio, ask a lot of questions. If you can demonstrate a good, positive attitude while doing so, then you’ll be showing interest in the work and an eagerness to learn. Just be careful not to annoy people with your curiosity.
2 ...And keep asking
Whether you’re a bright-eyed junior or a more experienced designer who is already established in the studio, questioning and wanting to learn makes a good impression at any level. Although make sure that you listen well, as at some point there will need to be evidence of you actually having learnt something.
3 Don’t be a job snob
You may feel that your talents are wasted at the bottom of the studio pecking order, but be careful to avoid giving people the idea that you’re above working on certain tasks. Your managers need to see that you are willing to work on anything – how else are you going to learn?
4 Try and see the bigger picture
As a junior designer, demonstrate an ability to think beyond your particular part of the process and understand a project as a whole. If your bosses think that you’re ready to handle different parts of a project, they’ll be happy to give you some extra responsibility.
5 You’re the presentation
Creative directors need to know that the designers they take to client presentations can be relied upon to explain ideas effectively. Making improvements to how you talk about your own creative work within the studio is the first step to demonstrating that you’re capable of communicating at this level.
6 Expand your skills
To advance within a studio, you’ll need to develop a range of new skills, including budgeting, collaboration and management. In a larger studio, management skills are important if you want to move up, whilst a smaller studio calls for a broader range of capabilities. In either case, you should always show an interest in learning these skills with each new project.
7 Let others excel
To get better at managing other people you have to accept – and relish – the fact that they will do things differently to you. Instead of asking someone else to do a task then redoing it yourself because it’s not good enough, you have to be able to get them to think about the task in a different way, to make mistakes and to learn from them.
8 Invite feedback
Use appraisal sessions with your manager as a chance to find out which areas you need to develop in and what extra skills you’ll need in order to be given more responsibility. If you can identify the areas where you’re lacking and can gain those extra skills under your own initiative, that’s even better.
9 Ask your boss
Be clear to your manager about your aims for promotion, as it’s his or her job to tell you how you can develop and to give you the opportunity to show what you can do. Similarly, if you feel that colleagues are being promoted past you, ask your boss what the reason might be.
10 Don’t be afraid to be ambitious
Don’t be worried that showing ambition will cause bad feeling with the rest of your team: a bit of competition is a healthy thing. You can be ambitious without upsetting people as long as you treat them with respect, and if people are getting upset, it might not be you that’s the cause of the problem.
All illustrations by Harriet Seed
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