What you need to know when starting out in a graphic design role

Posted in:
Posted by: JasmineThompson
Posted on: 12/08/2022

By East Midlands Chamber and Generation Next graphic designer Katie Marshall

I have been in my first graphic design role for a little over a year now – and it’s safe to say there’s a lot that design school didn’t prepare me for!

It has been a huge learning curve, but a great one, and I have loved every minute of it. Certain things I have done well and implemented from the beginning and others I have not, so I’ll leave you with pointers that have worked well for me, and others I wish I had done from the get go.

It’s ok to not know everything

Whether you’re traditionally trained in graphic design or not, you’ll undoubtedly have knowledge barriers during projects. It’s important to remember that’s it’s completely ok to not know everything, and no one is going to judge you for that – everyone was in your position once.

Make the most of being a newbie in your role by asking all your burning questions, even if you think they are silly – you may not get the opportunity again!

Always make the effort to improve your knowledge and skills

It could be through paid training with your company, advice from a colleague or free tutorials online – there’s always a way you can learn more and develop your skills. This will help you to continually improve in your work and career, and help you to become more confident as a graphic designer.

Keep your design trend knowledge up-to-date

I think it’s really important to keep up-to-date with what is going on in the design world, be it inspiring projects or creatives excelling in the design world. It can keep you excited, inspired and motivated to improve and stay relevant in your own work and career.

Some of my favourite websites to follow and stay informed with are www.itsnicethat.com, www.creativereview.co.uk, www.creativeboom.com and www.creativelivesinprogress.com.

Katie designed the entire suite of graphics for the Generation Next Awards in July


Be confident and challenge things you think may be wrong

Don’t get me wrong, you shouldn’t go in guns blazing, especially when you start a new role – but employers will love having a new voice and opinion on board, so don’t be afraid to use yours when appropriate.

Watch your language

Now you’re in the real-working world, you’ll be dealing with real-life clients. You may want to try and impress everyone with your technical jargon, but if they’re not design trained then chances are you’ll get lost in translation.

Swap out the swanky terms for basic language and you’ll have everyone on the same page.

Plan out your time

The likelihood is that you’ll be juggling various projects and “to-dos” at the same time. This can feel a little overwhelming at times, but by blocking out time in your calendar (making sure you account for all stages of a project) you can ensure optimal organisation to make sure you deliver on time to deadlines.

If you do find yourself getting a little behind then just keep up on communication with people and let them know – it’s fine and it happens!

Celebrate your wins, take note of your losses

Some projects are going to go well and others aren’t, just take note of those that don’t and move on.

Equally, it’s so important, especially in the beginning of your design career, to celebrate and be proud of your successes.

Amends amends amends

Amends, get used to them, but don’t get disheartened by them. It doesn’t mean the work you’re doing is poor, but clients have preferences and know the project more intimately than you, so you’re bound to get changes sent through.

If there’s an amend you strongly disagree with feel free to challenge it or explain your design choices, but remember that ultimately it’s the clients decision. Always approach the subject of amends with respect and never get aggressive or defensive – bear in mind that the client may feel a little awkward sending them through in the first place.


The Generation Next team is on hand to help budding entrepreneurs and young professionals navigate the world of business. To find out just how we do that, get in touch at gennext@emc-dnl.co.uk for more information on our membership package, or sign up to the newsletter below. 

Share this post