I'm not yet graduated but for now I have a contribution..or at least some things I learned in school during the past few years:
1. Conducting research means that eventually your probably advicing a stakeholder. Doing research means doing something with it in the design. Not conducting a research and not doing anything with it. When I found out that your not doing research for doing only research for me it was a big eye-opener. It really (you might believe it) took me about 3 years to understand this.
I read some of the comments in this post. I'll read them all in time because these are master-tips. One that got my attention was that you have to believe in what YOU are doing as a designer. Otherwise the company would not have hired you.
2. Set your goals before your mandate and be especially clear in your approach to customers and how the company should handle this. If possible make the company sign your Plan so you have a solid basis for the future in the company. For now these two tips are hopefully handy for some newcommers.
I've been in college for over 4 years now studying as a Multimedia Student. Some things just come over the years and not only when they are "put in the brain".
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This is such an awesome thread. Thanks.
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If I knew then, what I know now, I would have sketched, sketched, and sketched some more. Not that I didn't sketch alot, but there's always room for more. And remember, you're not sketching to impress your peers, you're sketching to uncover ideas.