Drifting away from being a “recent graduate” to the unknown.
This week marks the second anniversary of my graduation from college.
And I had a pretty solid title until now: "recent graduate".
This title is a blessing that not many people can understand, it can withstand errors, gaps in your resume, stuttering in your interview, designing below average and anything that might not be considered entirely appropriate in the professional atmosphere.
But what's after that?
In some job descriptions you're still a junior, and in other descriptions... you begin to realize that people start classifying your experience in the mid-weight category. You cannot make errors because you have experience, you cannot vanish from the market because that is unprofessional and you cannot not know something. It's not like you're going to be just as held accountable for your actions as a Senior but from now on, you will have an autonomy. A wiggle room that can either carry you up or can level you down. No title to absorb the consequences, no more "but I didn't know!"s.
It's almost like midlife crisis. (Not that you know what it is if you're a ex-recent graduate)
So, here's where I am. And I'll share you what am I doing to help myself soft launch my "Mid-weight" title.
I had an idea that if I was going to abandon my "recen graduate" title, it had to happen in a controlled environment. I'm an independent designer right now and if I decide to call myself mid-weight (MW), this title would be given by a junior. How reliable would it be? And does being MW only defined by my years spent after graduating? Shouldn't there be some kind of skill assessment made by more experienced professionals?
That's why I believe I'm still entitled to apply for "Junior" postings. I believe titles like molting snakes. You simply cannot drag the snake out of its skin before it's due, the skin has to become looser and uncomfortable for molting to begin naturally (probably butchered this info). I still feel comfortable with my sweet junior title and I don't think I worked enough to earn that MW title. When I'll be comfortable wearing that title is when I start working as a Junior and get promoted to be a MW. That would be official!
Second thing about drifting away from your highly error absorbing title, is to actually acknowledge your errors. Do not let your title to bear all those burdens. Identify what mistakes you've made in the past is now haunting you. To put it simply: What will give you a headache if you switch titles?
I started talking with my past clients to listen to their raw thoughts about their experiences with me. The bright side is, I'm in the beginning of my career and identifying and working on my weaknesses gives me a sense of authority.
Third and the last: skills. And I'm not even talking about creating better and shinier renderings. I'm talking about the core skills that would differentiate you from a new graduate. That might be identifying problems better, learning human patterns, understanding which forms work and which ones don't quickly, understanding which methods to use when starting a new project. For me, I started being mindful about presenting my ideas. I was big on ideating, sketching and rendering everything in my mind and now I'm working on translating my entire process to the tangible world. I try to research more and create better stories to convey my thoughts.
This is all my personal experience! I love comparing my current self to my old self, seeing the growth. But as a side note, I think comparing yourself with your past too much might give you a false sense of superiority. Celebrate you accomplishments dearly while being aware of your surroundings.
And, drop that title when you're comfortable.
You got this!