One of the things you have to consider on any degree course is what happens once the course is over? In graphic design one of the main decisions is whether you want to be a studio based designer, or a freelance designer? After doing my own research, here are a few pro's and con's to think about.
Studio Based Designer - The Pro's
Working in a design studio, employed by a company is a good place to start as a young designer, you'd be working along side professionals with years of experience, maybe with a mentor to guide you and help you along, the inspiration you would gather from being surrounded by creatives could only be beneficial to your own career.
It is a perfect place to meet people and make connections in other design agencies and other professions, you would be working office hours with a guaranteed wage every month with the opportunity to get promotions into higher positions.
Studio Based Designer - The Con's
Going into a new job you would be starting at the bottom, so you might be working in a position in a company where you are given the same repetitive jobs to do every day for quite some time, until the opportunity for promotion comes along, this could be quite monotonous and draining on your creativity.
Depending on the type of studio you work in, the scope to experiment freely as a creative might be limited, though if you are a computer based designer this might not be an issue.
Freelance Designer - The Pro's
Being a freelance designer you would have the freedom to work on projects that interest you, in the style that you like to work in. You have the freedom to chose how you work and not be pigeon- holed into one specific area, choosing illustration for one project then typography based work for the next, to keep things interesting.
You can charge more per hour as a freelancer. Work your own hours, so if you have a family to look after or other commitments you can set your own time table to fit your life. You can also work from wherever you want, you could rent your own office or studio work space, of work from home for free.
You will have time and space to experiment and work on your own personal projects between client work.
Freelance Designer - The Con's
As a freelance designer you are responsible for going out there to get work, bid for projects against other designers, it isn't handed to you, you need to get out there and find it, because of this there is no steady income, unless you land a lengthy contract, you only get paid for the work you've done.
Working you own hours, especially if you are working from home, might make you a bit lazy, once you set your self a timetable of your working hours it is important that you stick to these hours and actually do some work. Even if you don't have a client, working on personal projects and getting them out there on your website and social media will bring you closer to getting the work.
When the work comes in you alone are responsible for sorting out contracts, invoices, tax, client contact and meetings, dealing with any issues that may arise and sticking to those deadlines.
There are so many different things to consider, but as a designer you will probable do some freelance or self directed projects at some point, even if you are employed by a design company, and as a freelance designer you could find yourself, at some point working along side design agencies, who knows?
Some people recommend that starting your career in graphic design, the best option, especially to gain experience and to make connections, is to start in a design company or agency, then once you are more confident, if you felt the time was right, you could then go and start your own freelance career knowing exactly what it is you need to do. For others working as a freelance designer is doing the job you love to do, in the style you want to do it, in your own terms, it's creative freedom, and being able to make your career fit around your family and other commitments is perfect (as long as you can get the work!)