Most of my training work is custom training, tailored to clients’ particular needs. I truly enjoy doing that, because I feel that I’m imparting skills that they will immediately be able to use. I love to see the figurative lightbulbs start to glow over their heads, and to hear them say “that’s been driving me nuts! Now I know what to do!” It’s very gratifying.
I occasionally teach public classes at local training centers and other schools, using “canned” curricula for groups with disparate experiences and needs. I’m pretty good at striking an average as far as content and skill level, and I tend to depart from the courseware frequently, in the interest of realism (“Their example doesn’t have bleed because they didn’t want you to have to think about that. Guess what—you DO have to think about that. Here…let’s fix that.”)
But I’m seeing a trend in students in these public classes—a lot of them are employed in marketing departments whose managers have decided “Why should we pay those expensive design firms? We’ll just send you to a couple of classes, and then you can create our brochures, sales sheets, banners, trade show exhibits, business cards, 400-page catalogs and websites!”
I pity the employee who is going to be expected to jump into the deep end after class and come up with professionally designed materials, as well as the clueless manager who has no idea what is involved in skilled design and production. I’m especially sympathetic to the employee’s plight, because they’re wading into foreign territory, and they work for someone who’s seriously out of touch with reality.
I try to cram as much basic printing knowledge as I can into these short classes, so they at least know about trim, bleed, folds, spot colors and how seriously they should regard the responsibility of designing for those big, expensive presses they’re setting in motion with every click of the mouse. But that’s no substitute for years of figuring it out on your own, having jobs kick back, and having a mentor to help you out of the cocoon in the larval intern days.
I can’t very well say “your boss is delusional if she thinks you can become an instant expert,” lest I undermine what little confidence they develop. I sometimes use the analogy that taking an Illustrator class is like taking Driver’s Ed—you’ll be capable of driving on the interstate, you’ll know to look in your rearview mirror, use your turn signals, and parallel park when I get through with you.
But you’re not ready to run the Indianapolis 500. And your manager is expecting you to take the pole position.
I’ll do the best I can, and I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.