The Pan-Disciplinary Future of Creative Employment

Creatives today need to be "superpeople" who can write, be personable and–gasp!–talk finance as well. That’s the takeaway from a panel of design professionals convened at SXSW by Coroflot, the design jobs site well-known for its annual salary survey.


Designers especially must approach their careers with a “pan-disciplinary” approach, agreed the panelists. In fact, says Shedroff, look for a program or position where everyone else is not like you and make your individuality felt.
“You need to have a point of view and differentiate yourself,” says Shedroff. “It might turn some people off.”


When it comes to applying for jobs, create a PDF of work (“No bigger than 2.0 MB,” Smith and Kolko sang in unison) that not only shows your work but explains the projects and tells a narrative of your career. Resumes? One page, and again not just bullet points, it needs to tell a story.
“Our program is all about helping people be change leaders,” says
Shedroff, who often has to evaluate designers with portfolios vs.
non-designers who just have an essay for entry into the MBA program. At
frog, Kolko says the decision is about 50% culture and 50% attitude. Smith
notes that at Dell, interviewing can be a 6-7 hour process.


Since some creatives might have a little, ahem, free time in the near-future, each of the panelists had some different advice. Kolko said at frog they’re taking the time to do more meaningful work, like a collaboration with Pop!Tech where unused cell phone minutes are used to send messages about getting tested for AIDS in Africa. Spending your free time to get a second degree might not guarantee you a better salary but there’s something to be said about the experience. Smith says experience is king, appropriate since founder Michael Dell famously never graduated from college. Shedroff says no matter what, make the committment to keep giving yourself assignments, even if no one else will: “Keep investing in your portfolio so you’ll come out of this with better work.”

About the author

Alissa is a design writer for publications like Fast Company, GOOD and Dwell who can most often be found in Los Angeles. She likes to walk, ride the bus, and eat gelato.