How to Find New Grad Product Design Roles
The following post was originally posted on Medium.
After chatting with college seniors and recent grads about finding entry-level roles, I’m sharing my thoughts in this article!
1. Expand your search and cold email
Job boards are great for finding the latest opportunities from companies. interns.design curates these and adds exclusives to save time for students.
The first mistake that some make is to limit their search to “new grad” or “university grad” designer positions.
Tip: Expand your search to “associate,” “junior,” general “product designer” and “user experience designer” positions.
Even if a job description requires a minimum of 2+ years of experience, still apply! Hiring managers are flexible if you’re the right candidate.
Also note that just applying to roles won’t make you stand out in the job application process. I previously published a 3-min guide on how to cold email recruiters, design managers, and founders.
2. Reach out to startups
It’s not just big tech companies that are hiring new grad designers. There are many exciting startups that desperately need your design help! Startups are often also flexible with experience requirements. So how do you find them?
- Join Twitter and connect with the tech/design community where people share opportunities! Many credit their entire careers to Twitter. (It actually works — I’ve found jobs on it.)
- Filter on AngelList by funding (Seed, Series A, and later) to make sure that they have cash to compensate you! I don’t recommend pursuing equity-only opportunities because startups often fail. See if the startup has open design positions or reach out to the founders and designers!
- Identify industry verticals (fintech, consumer, etc) that you are interested in and find startups in this space. Reach out to the teams using the cold email technique.
3. Keep calm & repeat
It’s important to keep calm and repeatedly find and apply to roles. Make changes to your portfolio, resume, cold emails and apply to a wide array of positions! See what sticks and iterate on what doesn’t.
- Apply and send as many cold emails as possible. Even if it’s a company that you would never work at, it’s great to practice your pitch and portfolio review. You might also discover a company that you love.
- Note that it’s not the end of the world if you don’t receive a job offer. Once you have this mentality, recruiting become less stressful. Interviews are often conversational and should be a two-way street!
4. Closing thoughts
- Reach back out to companies that you interviewed with previously. Even if you were rejected, they are usually more than happy to re-interview you and may even provide you with an accelerated interview process.
- Chat with mentors in the industry and get feedback. Out of Office Hours, ADPList, and Cofolios are great resources to chat with designers for feedback on your portfolio or even mock interviews.
- Build an audience on the Internet. Share your work like case studies, prototypes, and mockups publicly. Whether it’s on Twitter, Dribbble, LinkedIn, or even TikTok, building a strong brand helps land jobs. Marisa shared that she’s looking for a new grad role and landed 20+ interviews with a single Tweet!
Lastly, different tactics work for different people. This is what I’ve found useful for me, but this is not the only way to land job offers.