During the end of my first year in Reading, I had invited to be part of the publicity team of the Typography & Graphic Communication department. I have always enjoyed sharing my stories and updates on social media, which I thought it is an excellent opportunity for me to develop my communication skills through this position; therefore I have taken it as my first real job.
The job aims to increase students’ engagement in the department’s events, showcase student’s work to the public, and enhance the public recognition of the department by providing a global platform. Roles included blog writer, event organiser, event photographer and marketing material designer.
Our team has the same lecturer as both our client and supervisor. As I am not a talkative person, I rarely gave opinions throughout the first few meetings with our client and fellow teammates. However, I started expressing my thoughts more after, and I noticed the importance of having every member of a team to speak up. Even if my idea were not impactful, it would lead the team to discover other possibilities when solving problems.
We first started by having a job rotation system, but shortly, we have set specific roles in order to smoothen the process. During the whole experience, I did mostly event poster designing and some event photographing. As I am away in the second half of the year, I had decided to help the team a lot in the first term, especially for the Wednesday department events, since it is impossible for me to take part in the events in person. Therefore, I volunteered to design all the posters and social media graphics for the events in the first term solely, with one poster created as a group.
The most memorial task I did was to write a blog to share my study abroad experience and to promote the opportunity for future students. The blog is written in a weekly format and in both English and Chinese, along with photos featuring throughout the blogs.
The Challenges I Faced
As each event has only a short preparation time, there are always sudden changes in the plan. For example, once I was in charge of the poster making for an event and I was told to change the poster design the day before, which this frustrates me. However, after these experiences, it trained me to work better in the real world, where schedules can be changed in a sudden.
For the study abroad blogging task, as my supervisor and I have not set an exact deadline before the end of term and I seldom check my university email during the summer break, therefore, I have missed the deadline my supervisor wanted. At the end, I wrote the blog in English, Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese and published them as soon as I received my deadline. This experience taught me to check my email daily to prevent creating any problem.
The following link is the English blog I did to promote the study abroad program: http://typography.network/2018/08/09/study-aboard-at-monash-university-melbourne/
The Experience I Gained
I have gained confidence in my graphic design skills through this real job. I still remember our team has to create the first event poster and refine the existing template few days before the event, which I volunteered to fully in charge. After showing my design draft to my supervisor, he was happy with the outcome, even though it was just the first draft.
Even though it is not the first time my designs have been used by real clients, as the posters are stuck throughout the department hallway, I felt delighted and happy every time I passed by them.
I found myself good at finding supporting images and creating designs in a consistent style as well. Since we have a fixed template for the event poster, all we need is to find the appropriate supporting images and edit the title and headline. Both elements have to be consistent with the posters that were made previously. However, I seldom have to change the supporting images after my first draft.
Moreover, with the blogging task I did, it helped me to practice my writing and improve my translation skills. I have learned how to impress the readers, who might not know me in person and the program in the first state, but still willing to read my blog. The content choosing and placement have to be well considered, as it would affect readers’ curiosity.
Lastly, I would like to thank James. He is not only my supervisor and client but also the one who chose me to participate in this real job. As I have learned a lot throughout the process, even though I could not help much in the second half of the job, I pushed my limit to help my team in the first half and the blogs at the end of the year.
If I could do this real job again, I would try to create a new template for the event posters and social media graphics. Even though the existing template is well designed, it has been used for the previous years, which it would be refreshing if a new template is used.
To conclude, it was a fantastic experience to be a student publicity officer in this department. It broadens my future career as it provided me practices of designing marketing materials within a short period, and strengthen my writing and other transferable skills.