What’s the best way to get graphic design work experience?

Being an interdisciplinary, problem-solving and utterly creative process, it is hardly surprising that being a graphic designer is a lucrative and sought-after occupational title to have. Not so long ago the privilege of being the proud owner of such an artistic and trendy trade was confined to a handful of lucky design students, who, due to exceptional creative talent, hard work and resoluteness (and probably a degree of luck), managed to break through the permeating barriers that prevent many aspiring designers from reaching their professional ambitions. With the arrival and subsequent explosion of the internet, the need for graphic designers has been phenomenally amplified in recent years, paving the way for a greater number of creative individuals to embark on this inspiring trade.

Although it has to be said that despite the graphic design niche exploding in the digital era, like with any sought-after profession, competition within the industry still remains intense. Similar to all popular and competitive professions, gaining work experience goes a long way in giving candidates the edge on their CVs and providing them with important ammunition if they manage to secure an interview.

If you are an aspiring graphic designer and are keen to attain some highly useful, if not imperative, work experience, then take a look at the following best ways to get graphic design work experience.

Work for charities

One way to add solid design experience to your portfolio is to offer your design skills to charities. Naturally charities are eager to promote their fundraising projects, branding, logos, websites, direct marketing and social media channels and given charities’ objectives to give their work a greater presence in the public domain, many will snap up the opportunity to offer a talented and up-and-coming graphic designer some work experience.

Do an online search of all the local charities in your vicinity and then contact them individually, offering your services and how such services could help expand their fundraising portfolio.

Contact established graphic design studios

Being able to say that you’ve worked for a leading graphic design company will really give your CV a touch of superiority over fellow candidates, even if the work you have done for them was just work experience.

It would therefore prove prudent to contact all graphic designer companies that you would be willing to travel to and enquire about the possibility of doing work experience. Not only will having work experience with an acclaimed design studio make you considerably more employable but there is also a chance that the company will eventually offer you a paid job.

This is what happened to Jemma Girdler, who started work experience with Logo Design & Marketing after winning a prize sponsored by Logo Design at Plymouth College of Art.

I did about 3 months, once a week, unpaid learning & doing what I could, then they made me the trainer for their CMS and I started to get paid for work and travel. Then over the next 2 years it progressed until I was offered the full time contract here” said an elated Jemma.

Submit work to competitions

Jemma’s situation illustrates the importance of competitions and how they can be used as a valuable tool to secure graphic design work experience and then hopefully a paid position. Having graphic design accolades under your belt will unquestionably help you get under art designers’ and editors’ radars, which could prove fruitful in being offered work experience or, better still, a paid position.

Online competitions

If you are studying graphic design or are a recent design graduate then there are a number of platforms out there to help you gain experience. Specifically domoredesign.com seeks to get real commercial experience for students via an online competition. If you win you get £100, if you don’t you get worthwhile additions to your design portfolio and the experience. Click the image below to explore their website.