Dear Designer

Dear Designer: Your First Job

So you landed your first design job. Here’s how to not suck at it.

Mike Monteiro
Modus
Published in
7 min readMay 16, 2019

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Credit: jayk7/Getty Images

Hi. Welcome to Dear Designer, the column where I answer real questions sent by real designers. Unless I make the questions up. Either way, you’re getting good advice. Dear Abby made up all her questions too — and her name wasn’t even Abby. It was Pauline. But seriously, if you have a question, email me and I’ll be happy to answer it. Maybe. If it’s a good question, and answering it could help a lot of people, I’ll be more likely to answer it. “Should I quit my job because my boss is a dick?” is not a good question (and you already know what the answer is anyway).

This column is an offshoot of Dear Design Student, a group project I and some other folks did a few years ago that you can still read. I’m kicking it up a notch for a working audience. So congratulations, you’ve all just graduated.

Which leads us in to our very first actual question from a reader, which I made up:

I just graduated from design school and landed my first real professional job as a designer. What do I need to know that I didn’t learn in school?

Dear Designer,

First of all, congratulations on landing your first job. That’s a big deal. You should be proud of yourself. I’ve got a few tips that might help you succeed on your first day and beyond. Read on!

Imposter syndrome happens to everyone

One of the biggest issues with designers (all of whom I love dearly) is being saddled with a crippling disease called “imposter syndrome.” I’ve seen it in new designers, and I’ve seen it in experienced designers. In a later column I’ll go over the reasons why it happens, but right now, I’m gonna do that thing you always wish your therapist would do, and just show you how to solve the problem.

My guess is it wasn’t easy to get this job. There were probably a couple of phone calls and possibly even some stupid test you had to pass before you even got to the interview phase. You probably had multiple interviews, yes? With multiple people in them? Possibly (hopefully) from a broad cross-section of teams in the company. You probably…

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Mike Monteiro
Modus
Writer for

English is my second language. You were my first.