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Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Falmouth alumni careers profile

I have been asked to write a bio and answer some questions for a Falmouth alumni careers profile for new employability materials, including careers brochures for each course. I struggled a bit – writing is hard. But here is what I’ve end up with:

“I graduated from Falmouth University (although it was still University College Falmouth then!) with a degree in graphic design in 2012. When I left Falmouth, although I stuck around for as long as my landlord would allow, I went straight into a work placement at a small design studio in London. It was great to be in the big city and I, like many others, assumed that’s where I’d end up. But I didn’t, at least I haven’t yet. I found a job at a design studio, emc design, 15 miles away from my hometown and it’s really, really great.

1 What would be your top tip for graphic design students?
Obviously you have to work hard, be creative, push your ideas etc. But I think an important thing to keep in mind is not to disconnect from the world outside of design, and outside of the studio. Let it influence you and your work, especially in Falmouth. Don’t spend all your time glued to your Macbook screen. Get outside. You and your work will benefit from it, trust me.

2 What do you wish you had known when you started your career?
University and education are great but there’s so much more to learn in the real world. For example, it’s okay if you don’t know all of the Adobe applications and everything they can do. There’s no better place to learn than on the job.

3 Please describe your ideal graphic design candidate in three words
Passionate, inquisitive, determined.

4 What are the best and worst moves you made during your job hunt?
I don’t think I made any terrible moves or choices but you can always be doing more to find work. Keep your eyes peeled, talk to people, check job listings every day. Contact studios regardless of what they are offering – even if they aren’t offering anything at all. Show interest and interact with designers – Twitter is great.

The best move I made was not restricting myself to London (as I originally thought I had to) and contacting a local design studio regardless of the fact they weren’t advertising any jobs. They were impressed with my portfolio, the next day invited me for an interview and employed me within a few weeks. Turns out they just hadn’t got around to advertising for a Junior Designer position yet, so both parties won!

5 Are there any vacancy sources or industry websites that you really like?
The ‘It’s Nice That’ jobs board is great. Much better than other job sites that just list jobs through recruitment agencies. Again, Twitter. Linked In.

6 Are there any competition or awards that you would flag up to students?
Well, I entered and was short-listed for the RSA Student Design Awards so I’d have to say that! I found I was able to re-interpret the brief to a certain extent and that made my idea completely different to the other entries. Which I think was the main reason I was short-listed. The interview process was really beneficial as well, even though I didn’t win overall.

7 What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Patrick Baglee gave a great lecture at Falmouth a few years ago. I think he was quoting someone else when he said this, and now I’m passing it on myself: “It’s better to be interested than interesting.”

8 Any other tips?
I’ve said it already but don’t assume because there aren’t any jobs advertised at a certain design studio, that you can’t ask. It pays off to show that you’re keen and interested – and not only applying because it’s a job. I’m not saying it will work for every design studio but you’ll never know if you don’t try…”

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