College is not the real world.
There is no syllabus predicting the course of the next six months. And clients don’t call with assignments fully written down, with past examples and a grading metric to share.
You knew that.
What may be surprising is how much you’ll miss it.
Every intern I’ve hired, every fresh graduate, struggles with the unknown that is inherent in the “real world.” No matter how much background I provide, or how detailed my outline of the project requirements, young designers are uncomfortable with the fact that they don’t know how the thing is supposed to turn out.
Fact is, seasoned designers don’t know either. We just give ourselves the permission to figure it out. We learn to pencil out a strategy and create solutions to fit. We allow ourselves to dream and develop programs that bring a vision to life.
In other words, we make it up as we go.
The best designers (and I like to think we’re pretty good) confront a problem and with a flash of inspiration see several potential solutions. We play each out in our minds, quickly landing on the most exciting and effective options. And then we get to work on research and designs to explore our concepts.
That is thrilling—and, for young designers especially—terrifying. You’re going to wonder what you spent all those years in college learning. You’ll wish you’d spent more time learning to strategize. And you’ll miss those long project deadlines.
Most of all, you’ll miss summer break.
That’s okay. So do we.