Even in the current climate of the pandemic, work does not stop for our students. The Department hosts an annual Careers Day for second years, inviting real designers (and other creative professionals) from a range of disciplines to speak to us one-to-one. It was particularly successful this year, with 17 guests meeting with more than 40 students in intense 20 minute bursts. It gave us fresh perspectives on our careers, and a new experience of professional communication.
The day started with reviewing work prepared in advance. We were asked to write reflective reports of our experience with our Real Jobs scheme, looking at the skills acquired from working for actual clients. We also took personality tests to help inform our thinking about what kind of professional environment might suit us. We then evaluated all of this to see how it resonated with our future career plans. Having read our reports, Rachel Warner offered us feedback, sampling snippets from the written pieces and inviting their authors to offer insight to the room. Outside of lockdown, this event would have been delivered in person, but instead this was replaced with our online classroom system. Even though this could have posed several issues, with students now in different time zones and the possibility of unstable connections for our forty-plus attendees, it ran swimmingly. Students were still able to chime in easily, as they normally would, and we felt as though we gained an equally valued experience as would have been in person.
In a similar vein, students also prepared CVs and their own digital portfolios to bring to the session. Following another round of general feedback from James Lloyd, we split into small groups to have a more intimate and personal review of our work from each other. Being able to directly analyse the content and design choices of our peers in the same situation offers insight and direction for our own approach. We all appreciate that learning from colleagues is a valuable skill, especially in the design field. The day was long, but feedback suggested many of us would like to see more time dedicated to this portion of the day – a great expression of the value we place on teamwork when offering feedback in this kind of studio setting.
This day offers more than just careers advice, though – we all learned a bit more about cheese too. Rachel offered a welcome break in the middle of the session by creating the ‘Cheese or Typeface?’ quiz as an online alternative for the usual typographical bake-off. Many students commented that this was their favourite part of the day, and of course a big congratulations to the winner, Peter, who doesn’t even like cheese!
Typeface designed by our own Siu Yen Lo, a graduate from our department – all inspired by cheese. Find more of his work at www.flickr.com/photos/152469926@N08/albums/72157709875946066
Our incredible visitors
And finally, the part of the day many students initially feared; the interviews. Our guests, comprised mainly of alumni and friends of the Department, offered mock interviews, portfolio reviews and general careers chats. Most of them work within different area of design including UX, information design, editorial or branding. But we also had experts in marketing, and a member of the University’s own Careers Centre, too. There was someone for everyone.
This real-life experience is unrivalled. Although many of us were nervous at first, the guests showed us we had nothing to worry about. They were kind enough to offer their time, and gave valuable and personalised feedback on whatever we wanted to show or talk about. One student said ‘…it was great to have the opportunity to speak to design professionals from such a wide range of disciplines. I now feel more confident about preparing for interviews in the future.’ Another participant commented that is was a ‘…fantastic day, despite the stress and anxiety I had building up; it’s notable to say that all the guests were so lovely and supportive and the day itself has been SO helpful in getting us all on track with our careers after uni.’ Furthermore, when asked for feedback on the day as a whole, the majority responded that this section was their favourite part of the day. Removing the fear of the unknown and offering insight into what to expect has instilled confidence into many of those who attended. We now feel better prepared to present ourselves as the best candidate for the role our first professional role – whatever that might be.
There was one recurring message from student feedback of the event that I’d like to leave you with, and it’s an encouraging one for most upcoming designers and prospective students alike. Several of us left a comment along the lines of ‘…you don’t always need to stress about having a fixed plan after university; all the designers I spoke to said they kind of fell into jobs through contacts.’ Probably more like contacts, skill and hard work, but our field is all about who you know, and this day offered us access to a much design broader network than we’ve experienced before. This realisation was encouraging. Even if we don’t yet have firm plans about our career direction, it felt like those who went before us are out there, ready to support us. We feel more prepared for what is coming next – the real deal – and we are excited to see what the future brings.
Finally, a very special thanks to all the guests that gave up their time to do this. We can’t thank you enough:
Emmeline Hewstone uk.linkedin.com/in/emmelinehewstone
Kirstie Smith uk.linkedin.com/in/smithkirstie
Matt Standage uk.linkedin.com/in/mstandage
Viktoria Vass hu.linkedin.com/in/viktoria-vass
Andy Owen uk.linkedin.com/in/andrew-owen-58b3321
John Anderson uk.linkedin.com/in/janderson-uk
Helen Noel uk.linkedin.com/in/helen-noel-721b1a11
Ziga Kropivsek uk.linkedin.com/in/zigakropivsek
Greg Owen uk.linkedin.com/in/gregowendesign
Amy Keast uk.linkedin.com/in/amykeast
Tom Howse uk.linkedin.com/in/tom-howse-5a8a9349
Dave Stroud uk.linkedin.com/in/dave-stroud-1a163730
Francisca Monteiro uk.linkedin.com/in/francisca-monteiro-942919147
Tim Friers uk.linkedin.com/in/friers-tim-2564769
Nick Adler uk.linkedin.com/in/nick-alder-ab8105a
Ben King uk.linkedin.com/in/ben-king-a4050b10a
Anne Delauzun uk.linkedin.com/in/annedelauzun