Gina, our newest recruit, joined us as a Junior Designer shortly after graduating from University of the Arts London (UAL) – we wanted to know how she found the transition from student to employee…
Tell us about graduation day… How did you feel when you finished University?
Graduation day was a very happy day spent with family and friends, I felt ecstatic and I didn’t fall over in my heels, on the stage, which was my biggest achievement of all! But if I’m completely honest finishing University was a funny feeling, on one hand I felt extremely proud of myself and a massive sense of accomplishment but on the other I felt nervous and worried about the future – which in hindsight was completely unnecessary.
The world is your oyster and the possibilities are endless… 18 years of education lead to this moment but if you are anything like I was you will have no idea where to go next! I started by forgetting the world on a well deserved holiday (which I would recommend), but once I was back on English soil I focused on finding a design agency right for me!
How did you go about applying for jobs?
Applying for jobs wasn’t easy, but perseverance is key. I started by looking at design agencies and imagining where I could see myself working. I tended to email companies directly rather than applying online through job sites, thankfully it worked for me, but I can’t say this will be the case for everybody.
The creative industry is a different entity in itself; if you have just graduated from a Graphic Design degree you need to work out which creative companies you will fit in at best. There are lots of questions to ask yourself and things to consider such as: design style, size of the team, salary, type of role and location. Would you rather work in-house for a brand you love or at a fast-paced agency? Would you rather earn big bucks or do a job you love?
What was the worst bit about job hunting?
The worst thing about job hunting is applying for specific roles or emailing agencies and not hearing anything back. I’m not ashamed to say this happened to me, this will have happened to most people at one stage or another and it’s demoralising – don’t take it personally, you need to be thick skinned. People are busy, you may have emailed on deadline day or your email may have gone into spam. Just keep trying… ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get!’
What advice would you give to graduates?
I’m not sure I’m old enough or wise enough to give advice, but I have listed 10 things I wish had known this time last year:
1) Going back into education isn’t the answer (Lots of my friends did this and you will find yourself in exactly the same position next year, just with a load more debt!)
2) Be smart with your money
3) Networking is just making friends
4) Tailor every application
5) View applying for jobs as a full time job
6) The government has ramped up efforts to ‘stamp out illegal unpaid internships’ (Any experience is good experience, just don’t work for free for long periods of time if you are being taken advantage of…)
7) Always be ready to try something new
8) Adobe doesn’t spell check (I learnt this the hard way!!!)
9) University doesn’t fully prepare you for the workplace but that’s okay (Just ask lots of questions… I ask a million a day!)
10) Everybody had a first day at some-point
And one more… Say you are a great tea maker on your CV!
What was the transition between University and your first job like?
It feels like a lifetime ago now, but working 9-5 was a shock to the system, in a good way! I think I spent my first month at Innovate listening to ‘9 to 5’ by Dolly Parton on repeat… I’m extremely lucky as Innovate is on my doorstep so I do literally “tumble out of bed”, “jump in the shower” and work 9-5.
What’s the biggest difference between University and working at Innovate?
Aside from the lifestyle differences, the biggest change is the general lack of time, at Chelsea College of Arts we spent months on a project in order to perfect it, and now it’s a race against time, all the time, and everything still needs to be completed to the highest possible standard. I guess that’s the difference between a learning environment and being on the clock with a client! The other major difference is working as a team ALL the time, which I love! Innovate work on every unique project as a close-knit unit and always finish everything with great attention to detail. You can read about a typical day for me here.
What did you learn during your first few months at Innovate? And what things remained the same as University?
I was extremely fortunate in that I had some previous agency experience and we had worked on lots of different live projects at Chelsea College of Arts, so the transition wasn’t too big! Most crucially I learnt how to be much faster… although, I am still learning keyboard shortcuts from Stuart! Most importantly the creative process is still just the same; receiving a brief has now become a Monday morning “kick off meeting”; experimentation is still me researching, brainstorming, sketching and trialling ideas; the development of an idea happens in communication with the client; and the deadline is still the deadline!
How did Innovate make your transition easier?
I’ve said this before but I will say it again – Innovate are a great bunch of people who I thoroughly enjoy both working with and learning from day in, day out.