In my coursework as a master’s student at the University of Florida, I’m learning a whole lot. We get to learn and try out new things all the time… But in n my day-to-day job as a media pastor, and while taking on freelance work, I’ve realized that there are a few practical disconnects between school and real life.
1. No technology stands still anymore
Trends change. Frameworks and technologies come and go. Some of those trends are temporary, but some of them have lasting effects that reach into future generations of development. We will need to always be working towards acquiring new skills… or you’ll end up like the communications person who still uses m$ clipart… BUT
2. You won’t get paid to experiment.
In school, all we do is experiment. I am really guilty of this. Instead of just jumping in, fulfilling the requirements, and submitting an assignment, I experiment. I play around. I change every element of the site, often scrapping an entire project because it doesn’t look “good enough” to me. Certainly what I get to do has a strong visual component, but it is not the only component. If a client or a boss wants a text box, give them one…but don’t bill them for 3 hours or waste a week because you couldn’t get the border the right shade of blue.
3. Big reveals mean big trouble.
As students, we are allowed big reveals. Professionally, however, big reveals are incredibly risky. In my job, I create pretty much anything we print or publish that is visual. I’ve learned to never present an entirely fleshed out product for my team for approval. Chances are, they’ll hate it AT LEAST half of the time. They haven’t walked through the steps that led to the finished product. They haven’t spilled their souls on the keyboard and mouse. They have a gut reaction that happens in a split second and you can’t change that. You may be able to walk them through your design process to sway their opinion, but you can’t change their gut.
Instead, walk through the process with your client. This has a ton of positives. You develop trust with the client. They have a new appreciation for the process and the product. You will not have to throw out an entire day/week of work as often…and this client may develop into a long-term client.