Two impromptu conversations with students at the Savannah College of Art and Design and the University of Florida’s College of Design, Construction, and Planning galvanized the fact that ‘design-is-design’ and allied professions have both intense opportunity and intense constraint. The first conversation was energizing, an unfolding world, that of design, beginning to open, and the second, much heavier, with fear of the unknown job market ahead. To the second student, I relayed that the job climate, even though dodgy, is improving, with new niches opening and/or being created each day. After all, this is what designers do – create, certainly applicable to new employment, specialties, and trending businesses…question back, “…but where?..in what field?”
While the first “re-energized” me as a Designer, with talk of the “kit of parts,” “negative space,” and caffeine-fueled nights in the studio, the second spurred some design thought – just how do you identify with, market, and/or create a job opening with Firms, move from being a student to being an ‘entrepreneur of sorts,’ creating your spot?..Enter discussion of social media (a common thread for students). Life of an Architect is a wonderful example, full of fun images, creative discussion, and pragmatic advice…it’s a view of the creative realm… balanced with a commitment to the health, safety, and welfare of Public and Private Clients, in concert with inspiring design. In the end, as I explained, “we are all Designers,” whether focused on context, structures, interior, or exterior, viewing the solution-scope under a different “looking glass.”
I encouraged both to seek real world dialog, read blogs, and continue to find “what inspires.” In 1994, that meant I went to Vicenza and other “places of note,” while in the midst of works I had only seen in texts…Palladio, Da Vinci, Mies van der Rohe, Scarpa, etc. – I tried to absorb the breadth of detail, space, and style, in reality. In 2011, such study/analysis can be “clicks” away…do “the stacks” still exist in certain college libraries!? The information age allows for diversity, expediency, and sheer volume. With these factors in mind, I encouraged them to ‘niche-find.’ Target a specialty and become the most knowledgeable about it.
While not yet part of the Professional world, students can, in fact, contribute, many are in touch with recent graduates who are part of this world…Professors could be “stuck” in experiences from years ago – students oblivious to poignant information –recipe for disaster. What to do? At the very least, look to control your world, glean and absorb your content, and square your sights on your interests and specialty…at the most, form meaningful dialog with professors, or at the least, walk your way…so much is out there…just engage.
As both set out, we’ll see if this “old guy’s” advice is taken, they tune in to the stream, or opt for a path laid out in advance – seems students now have an incredible opportunity to engage like never before, not just take the “first job.” The last points made were seeking a real-world conversation, being at the right-place-at-the-right-time, or following up about recent social media posts. These could yield a job directly, create a lead (work indirectly), or create a focused, follow up conversation…Many jobs still remain unpublished. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter provide the canvas, now you pick up the brush -
In the end, who was more inspired, them or me?