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Old Oct 10, 2007, 06:27 PM   #1
shlippy
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are continuing education Certificates worth it?

I am taking a class in CS3 and really, really love it. I have some questions about the job market. I understand there is fairly tight competition. Let's assume I build up a decent portfolio, does it hurt that I won't have a bachelor's in art? I went to college and grad school in an unrelated field but could continue with my courses and get a certificate in design. It's early so I could specialize in print or web design.

Is it worth getting a certificate? In other words, without a degree, doesn't the portfolio mean nearly everything? Or does the certificate imply at least a degree of technical competence to match a strong portfolio? (assuming that I'd have a strong one )

Lastly if getting a certificate in design, is it worth paying extra to get grades or just get credit?

I'm willing to do lots of pro bono work to build up my portfolio. Let's say I also design some fake posters and fliers, does it matter that the events aren't real to someone looking at them?

What all my questions boil down to, is this: it seems like 10-15 years ago, someone who wasn't necessarily formally trained in design but who was really good with computers could teach themselves the programs and break in to the business. Now, with undergraduate programs, it might not be so easy for us old people to break in. (I'm 34) Is that an accurate outlook?

That's a lot of questions. Thanks for any responses!
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Old Oct 10, 2007, 07:03 PM   #2
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I just hired a graphic designer.

In our case, we specifically wanted someone who was pretty fresh out of school. We wanted to find a competent person to give them a "first job" where s/he would go above and beyond. There isn't much ladder climbing available in the department so it is clearly a stepping stone position for 2-3 years.

In your boat, your portfolio has to be awesome. Many jobs don't allow you to submit a portfolio until you get an interview. If that is the case, your resume and cover letter need to have a simple web address where an employer can see your skills. That sold me on my top 5 candidates, as I couldn't see their work, only their credentials and writing ability. Find someone, anyone, who can put your work on the web. Get feedback, revise, refine - but always make it professional and a reflection of you.

An extra certificate is helpful, sorta, but the portfolio is paramount. Finding a way to slip that onto your resume is key.
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Old Oct 10, 2007, 07:40 PM   #3
Macky-Mac
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the most common first step in job hunting often means that in order to get an interview, somebody is going to look at your resume before anything else. Unfortunately, without an education credential, you put yourself at an immediate disadvantage.....whoever reviews your resume might decide there's no point in bothering to interview you when there are other potential candidates with the "right" education

you can have a tremendous portfolio but it wont help you if you don't get the interview
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Old Oct 11, 2007, 12:39 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Macky-Mac View Post
the most common first step in job hunting often means that in order to get an interview, somebody is going to look at your resume before anything else. Unfortunately, without an education credential, you put yourself at an immediate disadvantage.....whoever reviews your resume might decide there's no point in bothering to interview you when there are other potential candidates with the "right" education

you can have a tremendous portfolio but it wont help you if you don't get the interview
Not necessarily. So you don't have the credential. But you could still have the experience, especially if you've worked in the field for over 5 years.

Do an internship or anything that you can stick on your resume in addition to the link to your porfolio. And oh yeah, do it well!
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Old Oct 11, 2007, 01:36 AM   #5
Macky-Mac
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Not necessarily. So you don't have the credential. But you could still have the experience, especially if you've worked in the field for over 5 years.

Do an internship or anything that you can stick on your resume in addition to the link to your porfolio. And oh yeah, do it well!
well obviously work experience can make up for a lack of education ....but the OP doesn't have much work history in design either.

unfortuantely, the initial stages of a job hunt often mean doing what you can to avoid being eliminated from consideration BEFORE you get a chance to go in to show your fabulous portfolio

not having education credentials doesn't mean you'll never get a job, but it can make it a lot harder to find one, given the competition
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Old Oct 11, 2007, 09:56 AM   #6
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you seemed to be talking in general, so i felt that i should add what i did. also, i was trying to tell the OP that's there's many sections to a resume that can get you the interview. Experience, imo, is just as important (if not more) than credentials. Therefore, forget the little pro bono stuff if you can. Find an internship or something and stick to it. Looks better.
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Old Oct 11, 2007, 12:30 PM   #7
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thanks!

That is very helpful advice and I appreciate that it comes from personal experience. It sounds like credentials are the easiest (though not the only) way to get a foot in the door and the portfolio comes second. I will see what I can do about getting an internship in the future. Of course, I'm a little limited since it will have to either be paid or allow me to work full-time elsewhere (even if that means odd hours).

If I can get past the initial screening with a non-traditional resume, I'm hoping that a strong portfolio will get me the rest of the way to the interview. Having experience showing a bit of extended, relevant work history via an internship seems like a practical start for someone in my position. But do internships generally favor recent college grads?

While on the subject of the interview, what sorts of things do companies ask a candidate? Presumably the resume and portfolio will demonstrate technical aptitude and talent. Are you looking for problem solving skills and an ability to really understand a client's needs?

Well, at a minimum, I ought to save a few pennies on the courses by taking them pass/fail.
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Old Oct 12, 2007, 03:37 AM   #8
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Presumably the resume and portfolio will demonstrate technical aptitude and talent.

From purely a design and production point of view, the portfolio on its own tells an employer nothing about the restrictions and limitations — time or money — inherent in a project, which is why our candidates have to undergo a practical test. Given an hour to reproduce or create a simple piece of artwork, it's very illuminating to see where people start, what they don't do and how far they get.

You can have the most beautiful pieces in the world in your portfolio, but if they took weeks or months to do, then you're not the person for us.

Same with putting 'fake' items in your portfolio, because they tell you nothing about how well a designer has followed a brief.
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Old Oct 14, 2007, 11:19 AM   #9
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it's been my experience that the resume will almost get ignored in favour of the portfolio. I've been in interviews where the person interviewing me will be familiar with my work (in some cases having seen it prior to my applying to them), yet it's as if their reading my resume for the first time while I'm sitting there.

That's not to say the resume isn't important, but a strong portfolio seems to hold more weight in my opinion.
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