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Moving From A Big Company To An Entrepreneurial One

Q: "I'm a graphic designer in the communications department of a large corporation. I would like to move to an entrepreneurial internet company and work on its website. How do I do this?"

A: The internet wave is rolling across the country. It's no surprise you would like to give it a ride. But, before you head for uncharted, possibly treacherous waters, prepare yourself by:

  • Learning about web page design, so you will be productive the moment you begin your new position
  • Researching internet companies to find the ones with potential for longevity
  • Attracting the attention of entrepreneurial decision makers.

Designing web pages is not the same as putting together brochures and PowerPoint presentations. There is more animation and interaction with the reader. Designers are often required to know html software. Even the graphics package may be different from the one you currently use. To be sure you are qualified to create web pages, check with a local community college to ascertain what software web designers prefer. If you aren't familiar with it, take a continuing ed course. Then, put together a portfolio of web pages you've created. Internet companies work at lightning speed. They don't have the time or personnel to train people. If you want to be on their team, you'll need to prepare yourself to make an immediate contribution.

While we continually hear about the money pouring into internet startups, not all of these investments are based on sound business reasoning. Some of the ideas for new sites are inspired; others aren't. Some companies are awash in venture capital; others operate on a shoestring. Some will have the staying power to keep growing or be acquired; others will fall by the wayside. To determine those most likely to survive and thrive, talk to people involved in the industry. Read your local business journal to identify "the players" with the best chance for success. When you are networking and interviewing with internet companies, ask about their funding. Most take years to turn a profit. Without an ongoing source of capital, they have no future.

Put yourself in front of the people who can hire you. Ask your friends, acquaintances, fellow college alums or church members who they know in the business. Attend professional organization meetings, seminars and social functions where these folks tend to hang out. Set up information gathering appointments with some of them to find out what they look for when they hire graphic designers. Build rapport and keep in touch, even if there isn't an apparent opening. The internet is in an explosive growth mode. Finding good employees is tough. If you take the initiative to learn the ropes and build relationships, you'll soon be a part of their team.

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