In-house Issues: Developing Development

It was enlightening to see in the results of the “Get IN The Vote” Professional Development survey, the disparity between what kind of training in-house designers believe they need and the educational opportunities being offered to them by their companies. One can only conclude that a rather large, if not gaping hole, exists in what could and should be a powerful network of much needed support for our community.

It’s obvious that the design schools we attended did a good job of honing our skills in working with type, imagery, layout, graphics applications and in developing our ability to think creatively and conceptually. What they didn’t teach us, not that they should have given all the support we needed in mastering the practice of design, are all the business skills necessary for us to fully integrate ourselves into the corporations where we work.

I’ve seen the consequences of this skills gap first-hand. More often than not, I speak with in-house designers who, left to their own devices, are continually reinventing the wheel when it comes to staffing structures, project management solutions and client management strategies. Many have to accomplish these tasks with no coherent guidance while managing all of their other functions in creating design deliverables for their clients. This is clearly a difficult and inefficient way for in-house designers to be working.

Fortunately, industry organizations have realized this challenging state of affairs and are beginning to offer professional development programming for designers working in corporations. AIGA has undertaken several initiatives aimed at providing business skills training and HOW, through conferences, books, periodicals and webcasts is stepping up to the plate as well.

The opportunity remains, though, to coordinate these efforts and offerings and possibly craft a certification program that provides a clear coherent curriculum to develop in-house designers and position them for greater success in the world of business.