If you’re graduating in the middle of a recession, it’s likely that an arc of despair trumps the impending thrill of your newly-liberated station in life. Conversely, though, I can’t imagine a better time to get out of school. Nobody’s hiring, but why let that stop you? While the mechanics of, say, having a roof over your head suggest that a little modest income might be a good thing, the actual economics of making work no longer depend on an actual employer. The portfolio no longer means a big black suitcase schlepped around from studio to studio. Get your work online, put your videos on YouTube, and get busy.
I am about 1-2 years out from graduating myself and I already feel the jitters of the “what next…” syndrome. The world of design is changing so fast, every day, and it can be quite an intimidating place to look out upon from within the graduate school bubble. Sometimes I feel like being a student is like being a star college basketball player; floating along no problem in this league—making threes, hitting jumpers, dominating the *paint*—only to be in for a big surprise when you graduate to the Pros and get dunked on by guys double your height and ability that got recruited straight out of high school.
The cries of “nobody’s hiring!” that sound throughout the design world can be periodically distressing, but also inspiring in a backward kind of way. As Ms.Helfand alludes to above, the traditional model of graduate/interview/work for studio is not what is necessary anymore (and thankfully!). New opportunities exist, and as long as you have that hyper-awareness and ready ability to adapt, you can take advantage of them just like before. At least that’s the way it seems from inside the bubble.
It does seem like a scary time to graduate now (and probably will again in a couple years), but the optimist in me agrees with her letter and isn’t concerned. Everything is going crazy and I’ll just try to stay crazy right along with it. Read the full letter on Design Observer.