Hi Lewis, great question! I have a bit of experience with this, though I didn't end up pursuing a career in design. I did get an art studio degree in undergrad, and put together a small portfolio. A family friend set up an informational interview with an Art Director at a magazine, and she made a big deal about the portfolio. So you do need to be able to show a body of work to get into more selective schools, to get internships, and to get a job in design.
The good news now is that there are many options for building your portfolio, including online courses and design bootcamps. I think the 4 year degree is not as essential as having a professional portfolio.
If you want to get more experience beyond school and do have some mad skills already, non profit organizations are always looking for help with posters, flyers, websites, etc.
Marca recommends the following next steps:
- Look online for design bootcamps.
- Talk to a local non-profit and offer up your design services to build your portfolio