Don’t let your resumes fall to the clutter. Stand out as a prospect when seeking entry-level jobs or internships by becoming familiar with these industry tools.
Entering my senior year nearing closer to graduation I look back to my education and think: I wish someone would have taught me this. My time in college is extremely valued – maybe even the best four years of my life. However, after being employed in multiple internships related to my field, I wish my degree included courses demonstrating industry standard programs. I was left to learn on my own. Because of this, I hope to share with you a few platforms that every young professional entering the field may want to become familiar with. Gain a leg up on the workforce competition and land the interview by having experience in tools of the trade.
Note: There is no order in this list but I have come across each while beginning to enter the workforce.
Photo Manipulation: Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, & AfterEffects
Adobe Creative Cloud. If this is your first time using this software don’t freak out when you open it – there’s a lot. On the bright side, unless you are working on the creative team you likely won’t need to know the in’s and out’s of these functions. However, being able to say you understand the basics and can contribute quick edits or touch ups to a project may make your time a lot easier.
Photoshop Used for photo manipulation, this software is the staple platform for photographers and photo editors. You aren’t going to become a master overnight. However, it is beneficiary to understand how to manipulate lighting, contract, and object removal without sending your task to the graphic designer. Become familiar enough with the platform to be able to remove an unwanted shadow or fix the sharpness on a slightly blurry image to save valuable time down the road. Don’t have anyone to teach you the basics? YouTube has an abundance of resources and there are many tutorial sites on the web.
Illustrator the graphic designer’s best friend and content creation tool. Unlike photoshop, Illustrator works with shapes and points instead of pixels. Designers use this platform for most non-photography projects by incorporating type and shape. Again just starting out, the tools may be overwhelming. Learn how to use the shape and type tools. Eventually you should be able to make rough draft posters that you can give to the creative team to better understand any stick figure drawings. Tutorials are everywhere and abundant on YouTube.
AfterEffects & InDesign are two programs more specific for their use. While the previous two are primarily used in design, AfterEffects (Ae) and InDesign (Id) are used for more task specific functions. Ae is an industry standard in most video production. The Creative Bloq describes the program, “In many ways After Effects is Photoshop but for moving footage, and just like Photoshop it can seem intimidating to new users and you can feel like your only ever using 10 per cent of the full power of the application.” However by learning the primary uses of this system, you will be able to throw together basic footage. InDesign is a whole separate system in itself. Primarily involved in page layout, the program allows users the ability to be highly specific when creating brochures, small books, newsletters, etc. Learning the software itself is difficult but will save a lot of time in the long run. When your employer tells you to throw together a newsletter for the corporate dinner or create a product brief brochure you shouldn’t have much trouble using InDesign.
Microsoft Office: Word, PowerPoint, Excel
Yes. Practically every generation now knows how to function Microsoft Office. However, the importance to understand now is becoming professional with what your ideas are. A PowerPoint presentation will turn to failure if you are presenting to your boss using outlandish effects between each slide. Similarly, you must be able to communicate your thoughts and ideas clearly through writing in Word. Know and understand advanced formatting and outlining to take your skills to a higher level.
Customer Relations Management (CRM): Salesforce, TeamSupport, and ZenDesk
If you are starting out as an intern, it is likely that you will be working with customer communications. CRM programs offer in-depth tools to address customer problems and concerns. Salesforce has become a monster of a program and used by many companies now. It serves as a giant database to store customer information between all employees within the company. However, it digs deeper than that. It allows employers to establish tasks, create sales teams while tracking progress and goals, and serves as a constant communication database between every part in the sales process. The downside with this program is that it is expensive. If you are just entering into your field, it is likely that you unable to get your hands on it. Use external resources and at least know the purpose of the program so when it comes time to use it then you are not completely lost.
ZenDesk, although similar, provides a means to communicate directly with clients/customers. Used by support teams, the program allows you to interact with customers in order to solve problems and issues. It serves as a direct form of communication to address any issues with your product. Again you will not likely be exposed to this tool until you are actually working but it is good to do some research and know what it does.
Web Content Management (WCMS): WordPress & SquareSpace
WordPress has taken charge as one of the larger web content managing systems. It’s simplicity in design gives it an easy to use – easy to create web publishing platform. Many businesses are using this program and even this blog is maintained by WordPress. Start to know the in’s and out’s and even maintain your own blog. Even more it’s free. You’ll instantly jump to the top of prospective candidates if you know how to manage the company’s entire website.
Social Media Management: HootSuite, TweetDeck, Google Analytics, and CrowdBooster
I won’t get much into these tools because you first must need pages to manage for your organization or brands. However, become comfortable with each social media platform’s analytical tools. Without numbers you have no proof to as how your social media skills are being applied. With that said, once you’re able to say, “I boosted my organization’s Twitter followers and engagement by 75%,” is when you start to shine out to employers. In addition, take a moment to create a TweetDeck account and start interacting with it. It is free and a common platform to maintain Twitter accounts. HootSuite is a similar tool but a freemium service that many companies use to maintain multiple accounts across different platforms.
The following blogs were listed as the Social Media Examiner’s top 10. Each blog has their own style and covers a range of topics, but it’s a good idea to get started following the latest trends and top players in the field.
Productivity: Workflow, Microsoft Outlook, Google Calendar, and Evernote
You can’t manage all of these tasks if you don’t know what you are supposed to be doing. Luckily we live in the digital age and there are many apps and programs there to help. Start with Gmail, set up a professional email with a signature and use this as your main source of communication. The nice thing about using this is that it syncs with Google Calendar. An app used to where you can literally time out your entire day. Set notifications to your email and phone and you won’t forget what’s due when. There are many tools built for productivity, so the sooner you figure out what your own tactics are the more you can get done in the day.
“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us get up and go to work.”
Stephen King said in his book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. It’s time to stop reading and go to work. Get comfortable with these programs and any others because you won’t get the job if you go into the interview unprepared.
Greggs, M. (2014, January 13). The beginner’s guide to After Effects. Retrieved October 6, 2015, from http://www.creativebloq.com/3d/beginners-guide-after-effects-11410328
King, C. (2015, February 5). Top 10 Social Media Blogs: The 2015 Winners! Retrieved October 6, 2015, from http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/top-10-social-media-blogs-2015-winners/
King, S. (2000, October 3). On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. New York. Scribner.