This blog isn’t the norm that I will post. It isn’t about the creative side of art, but the frustrating side that leads to talented people giving up and being forced into manual labor jobs because no one will give them a chance.
I came across this article at the perfect time and it certainly hit home. As someone who has been highly affected and put into debt by this problem, it makes me wonder how we can fix it and create jobs for all of the talented and employable people that now are working minimum wage jobs while having a skill set that goes far above and beyond. I can only account for my experience trying to become employed in the design field, but still firmly believe that talented and able people should be given a chance to shine and succeed. Here are some of my thoughts:
Graphic Design is not my first career. Before I discovered that I could make a living in the artistic industry (or thought), I had a successful career as a Diamontologist, yup, a diamond expert! I worked in the jewelry industry for about 6 years after high school while attending community college to further educate myself. On top of that, I took my life experience from my hobby as a dancer and recreational gymnast as a child to instruct aerial acrobatics and dance for both adults and children for the past 5 years. I have not only life experience and problem solving abilities, but as I attended my BA program as an older adult (I was 27 entering college) I also had a different level of responsibility, dedication, priorities and skills of the average 18-22 year old college student. I was not out partying all weekend, I was studying and further learning online with tutorials and extra lessons to absorb as much as I could and be successful in the industry.
First, it seems nothing but what is on a paper resume is considered in the job market. Looking at my resume, I look like I may be about 23, when in reality I am 30 and not looking for a start up job. Many 21 year olds will be fine starting off in the work industry with lower paying jobs to work their way up in the market, because that’s what I did at that age. At my age, I feel like it’s almost unacceptable to be working for minimum wage as a salary because it is backtracking far beyond what I made before college. Not to say that one shouldn’t have to pay their dues upon entering a new career field, I did that as well, even at my age. I worked for my first two years in design for free or for very little pay. My second internship was a 2.5-3 hour commute BOTH WAYS (!!) in order to gain experience to further my career.
Second, graduates (of ANY age) are the most creative people in the industry. Some of the most talented people I know are those that are fresh out of school and excited about life, the future and their bright prospects of careers. When I was in college, working on exciting projects, I thought that was what I was going to be doing in my career. I couldn’t wait! Well, I was sadly mistaken that while I was being encouraged to create my own artwork and photography for my projects, in the real world there is far less creativity as a designer. While yes, it is different in every company (I hope to find a company that allows more art and creativity rather that strict guidelines and lack of projects to do) for the most part as a corporate designer you are skillfully arranging other peoples artwork in documents as opposed to creating it yourself. Stock photography is purchased for projects as opposed to the designer taking his/her own photos, which can be understandable since locations and photos of people can not be readily accessed conveniently. Recent graduates are full of fresh and creative ideas. They are problem solvers, team workers, and hard working. They are up to date on the latest trends in the industry, latest software, and practices.
Finally, I believe that every talented and educated individual deserves a chance. If I had a dollar for every time a job I applied for told me “Your work is amazing! You’re so creative and excellent at what you do! You’re so talented! …….But we’re looking for someone with more experience. Sorry.” In one case, I was unable to even have my work looked at by a prestigious employer because they wanted 15 years of experience for entry level pay! I find it unacceptable that people have gone to college, been crushed with debt, and then have to work for FIFTEEN years in order to make a livable wage. A friend of mine said “It seems that the only people who have enough experience are the ones ready to retire! It’s not a valid demand on the part of employers. To get that much experience you’d have to hire much older staff, except they are saying they are looking for young fresh employees. The two don’t mix. It’s like saying you want to sit on a star but keep your feet on the ground. It can’t be done!” While this is not the case for everyone, this is what it feels like to be a recent grad that no one will give a chance. So let’s stop replacing entry level jobs with unpaid internships, and give talented people a chance to prove they can succeed in the job market and make sustainable livings. The price of living is going up, and it is unacceptable to expect people to be able to survive on minimum wage. My first 3 jobs out of college I could not support myself on the pay. With student debt hanging over my head, I made enough to pay my bills, save a small amount, and pay for every day expenses such as food, car, and necessities. If I had to pay for rent as well I would be homeless!
Do you remember the one person who gave you a chance to achieve your dreams? That’s all a recent grad needs. A chance to shine and find our place in the world without being taken advantage of and being dulled down.
Thoughts on how to end the struggle?