Advice for IMD Students

I’m one of the recent batch of IMD graduates, and I managed to walk away from the course feeling pretty happy with myself. I’ve changed quite a lot over the years that I’ve been a student, I think everyone that studied the course has.

In this post I’d like to impart some of the things that I’ve picked up along the way, in the hopes that some of them might prove to be of use to students still on the course, and to people involved in design in pretty much any capacity.

This post is largely inspired by an article I spotted that Will McNeilly posted up on the twitterwebs, by Johanna Basford, entitled 50 Things I wish I’d known in Art School. I’m not going to just list mine though, and it won’t be nearly as many points, I’m going to share the reasoning behind the points too.

Have Faith In Yourself

This is probably the single biggest thing I have seen people around me suffering from. IMD, and design work in general, can be stressful. It can get you down.

There’s a reason that each and every student is on the course. It’s because you deserve to be there. It’s easy to lose sight of that when you’re trying to meet deadlines. But it’s true.

Don’t lose sight of this. If you find that your work doesn’t meet up with your expectations, then you’re in the right place. You know what you want, and you’re in the perfect place to develop the skills to make things that do meet your expectations.

This tweet, by Kitty Crawford, sums things up better than I could, especially the image linked to:

I only realised this this year, but it’s a good thing for anyone to know. I’m still filling that gap!

Don’t be a Dick

This is one of those pieces of advice that you often see mentioned. There’s a good reason for this. If you make yourself out to be someone that doesn’t want to be approached, or involved, then people won’t approach you. People won’t want to get you involved.

Taking the time to talk with people, making yourself approachable, and generally being a decent person will almost certainly result in your being better known. It doesn’t guarantee you’ll instantly win, but it will help.

Be Social

This pretty much re-enforces my first point. Putting yourself out there makes it easier for people to find you, get to know you and has the added benefit of letting potential clients/employers/partners get to know you before they ever approach you.

Let’s put this another way, if you make it easier for people to approach you, more people are likely to. This results in you making connections which really cannot hurt you in the long term.

Twitter - Please Use It

When I say use it, I don’t mean that you should tweet incessantly, or even maintain a constant stream of tweets. But you should be on there. Not only is it a great resource of information, but it’s a great way to meet new people in your field. Web Design and Development is one of the few industries I have seen that has as much of a social aspect to it, it would be a shame to ignore that.

Care About Your Craft

Don’t work just to meet deadlines. Don’t have a good enough approach to your work. That kind of approach will show through, and it will affect your grade. But beyond that it will count against you when people look at your work.

Care about what you do, and do things that you care about. If that means doing more work, then do it. I can attribute my current freelance projects, my employment in a design studio and my acceptance on The Masters to the fact that I went beyond what was required.

Experiment With Things

Education is great, it teaches you a lot. Unfortunately it also has a hard time of keeping up with all of the latest and greatest in shiny technology. What is shiny and new now, will quickly become common usage in the industry we work in. Look at how quickly some aspects of CSS3 have come into use.

Structure is Important

When I talk about structure, I don’t just mean in terms of code. Keeping your code clean, lean and organised is good. Keeping your life in order is good too. I can remember all the all-nighters I pulled whilst on the course. Whilst some of what I accomplished during those nights was cool, the fallout afterwards was never pretty.

Get to Know People

As great as you may think you are, as great as you may actually be, a small group of dedicated people can typically produce a higher quality of work than a single individual. Having a group of people who specialise in certain things allows you to create some awesome stuff.

I wouldn’t be where I am today without the connections, the friends, that I have made during my time on the IMD course. I wouldn’t’ve been capable of producing the work I have without their input and their help. This is something that everyone realises eventually.

Wrapping Up

It’s a pretty short list, but they are some of the most important things I learned during my time on the IMD course. I hope some of it proves of some use to those who read this. Feel free to leave your own insights in the comments below.