Talking about leadership skills for a junior position...

Hello all!

I’m in my final year, and about to start applying for junior positions (hooray!). I had some questions regarding talking about my leadership experience when applying for a job that doesn’t really have leadership in it (unless I’m mistaken about junior designers…).

I’ve had a huge breadth of leadership experiences with designers (as an IDSA leader), but also with other disciplines (most notably my leadership position as president for a student organization on campus). I’ve led organizations of 60+ multidisciplinary students to hosting events, and building booth (a 6-month undertaking of constructing a two-story themed structure for carnival from scratch… see here: I’ve had lots of experience managing all types of people, and can communicate design principles to non-designers.

My question is: since a junior level position won’t be leading anything, how can I use all these experiences to my advantage in an interview or cover letter or resume?


Well as a leader you know what makes a good “follower” and a bad “follower”. All of your leadership experience has also indirectly made you a better team player, because you have been in the position to evaluate people based on their ability to take direction, execute game plans, play well with others, etc.

I would talk to it in that way, I don’t think there is anything wrong with coming out and saying I like to lead, I think I can be a great leader when the time comes for me to step up. But phrasing it in a way that makes you come off as an even better team player will probably play to your advantage at this stage.

I would definitely position it as you have the beginning of an understanding of the challenges your immediate supervisor might face, and that could help you to anticipate organizational needs and be more flexible, proactive, and agile. I think it may also show how you could grow with an organization in the coming years.

If you try to work for an established design department or consulting group you will need to demonstrate that you can follow direction, take input and deliver an even stronger result, go deep in your role while understanding the bigger picture.