Laura Berglund
What difficulties did you face at the beginning of your career?
I was very lucky in that I landed a great design position right out of school, that gave me some great real-world experience for three solid years. There honestly weren’t a lot of difficulties for me starting out because of that position, but there are downsides to every job. I guess the biggest difficulty I faced right out of school was people not trusting me to do a good job, and not giving me the best projects because of that. A great restaurant branding project came in, and all the designers were working on ideas, but I was not put on the project because I was so junior. I asked my bosses if I could work on some ideas on my own time, and thankfully, they let me try. I only came up with one solid direction, but the client ended up picking it! I was ecstatic. Up until my bosses told me that a more senior designer would take my concept and execute it, since she had more experience than I did. But again, I spoke up and told them that I wanted to do it, and they were very gracious and let me do it, with their mentorship along the way. I ended up with a great restaurant branding project and lots of experience that I never would have gotten if I hadn’t spoken up.
What should a young designer do in order not to get hired by anybody?
If you don’t want to get hired by anybody, then send out really generic cover letters and don’t cater your resume to the job you are applying for. No one will think you really want the job, and toss your application in the garbage. It’s absolutely critical to write a note to your potential employer speaking specifically to them, telling them why you would be a good fit for their company, and give specifics! I always liked pointing out what my two favorite projects from their portfolio were, and why they resonated with me. When they can see that you took the time to get to know them, they will much more likely to take the time to get to know you.
Are there any things you wish you knew at the beginning of your career?
To enjoy every step of the way. I think I always got caught up in the day-to-day stresses of a job, without remembering that this will be the only time to experience being a young designer fresh out of school. Every small win made me feel so good, whether it was a client picking my concept, or getting my very first set of printer proofs in, or seeing something I made up on a blog, that thrill is something that unfortunately fades over time, and I’m not even that old yet! I just wish I knew to really appreciate those moments when they were happening for the first time, since they are there and gone so quickly in the rush of trying to excel.
Are there any rules or habits that help you do your job more efficiently?
The one thing that I really can’t go without is sketching out iterations of my ideas on paper before I do anything on the computer. I’ve found it hard to think openly and conceptually when I begin a project on the computer, but when I start with a pencil, my solutions always feel more inspired and meaningful. When I sketch, it generally begins with me writing out the most important pieces of the creative brief on paper, the tone I want to strike, and any initial associations I have as a list, and then I move to sketching. Literally writing my end goal helps focus my sketches and keeps me on track.
Would you recommend some books that young designers might find useful?
I really loved reading Ellen Lupton’s Thinking With Type  when I was in college. Learning all the names of the segments of a letter has consistently proven useful over the years. Recently, I’ve fallen in love with Marion Bataille’s ABC3D  pop-up typography book, because it’s so visually clever, and plays with how a reader would interact with the pages.
Laura answered the questions on July 22, 2015.
The answers were published on July 23, 2015.