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Ryan Lee

SFU Co-op Student
Communication, Art + Technology › Communication

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Design is everywhere, and it’s becoming an increasingly important skill for Communication students searching for Co-op work.

Design. It’s all around us – from the layout of the Metro News forgotten on the Skytrain, to the intricately crafted smartphone in your pocket. Design is everywhere, and it’s becoming an increasingly important skill for Communication students searching for Co-op work. Particularly, graphic design skills with Adobe Creative Cloud is a highly sought after skill that many employers are beginning to look for.

“Hold on, I don’t know anything about design. Who is Adobe? Where do I learn? HELP?!”

Well that is an excellent question, dear reader – a question that I hope to provide some answers on so you can go from zero to hero in your next Communication Co-op job!

Know the Software

For novice and veteran graphic designers alike, Adobe Creative Cloud is known as an industry standard for developing media for web and print. The software suite contains a plethora of programs, but we are going to focus on three, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, andAdobe InDesign.

  • Photoshop: A high level image manipulation software used primarily for creating and editing raster (or pixel-based) images.

  • Illustrator: A tool for working with vector based images and illustrations; useful for creating logos, diagrams, typography, etc.

  • InDesign: A desktop publishing software for typesetting documents for both print and web based content.

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Utilize the Resources at SFU

“Hmm, I feel like I may need some help getting started. How can I go about learning the basics?

Actually, there’s some resources available right from the comfort of your own school – both in person and online!

PUB 131: Publishing Design Technologies is a great course offered to students who want to learn the basics of print publishing. You will primarily be working with InDesign, learning how to properly typeset text for a variety of different print projects. You will also work lightly with Photoshop and Illustrator.

IAT 102: Graphic Design offers an introduction to visual communication, using Illustrator as the primary tool. Through a series of theoretical lessons and hands-on projects, you will learn the essentials of design and create a visual portfolio that can be showcased at your next potential interview. is also a resource that SFU students can access without incurring any charge (it’s already paid for in your tuition, might as well make the most of it). Just log in through the library’s database archive, create and account, and you’re off to the races. Using Lynda, you can access thousands of guided tutorials created by industry professionals – whether it’s for Adobe Creative Cloud, or any other skill you may be looking to develop.


“Cool! So, where can I go to download these programs?”

Like many things in life, there is a catch. The software comes at a price – 20USD/month at the student pricing to be exact. While I highly recommend the subscription (even if it is for a short period of time), it’s a luxury that may not always be possible on a student’s budget. There is an upside – the iMacs in the various campus libraries have Adobe Creative Cloud preloaded on them, so you have those as a cost effective option for practice.

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By trade, I am not a designer – just someone who turned a hobby into a useful skill in the workplace. There are many ways to start learning about design, but what worked best for me was to watch tutorials, and tackle some projects on my own. Regardless of how you get started, know that you already are taking the first step at becoming more competitive in your next job search by learning the fundamentals of design. As with all skills, practice, practice, practice and your newfound abilities will pay dividends.

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And who knows… You might just be the next design hero at your next Co-op job!

Beyond the Blog

About the Author

Ryan Lee

SFU Co-op Student
Communication, Art + Technology › Communication
Have any questions for Ryan on how to get started in graphic design? Connect with him on LinkedIn and ask away!

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