My First Year In Industry
on 10 December 2018
My name is Emily and I’m 23, as I write this post I have been in my first role as a Junior Designer for 18 months. As a bit of background I graduated from Northumbria University in July 2017 and was fortunate enough to go straight into my first Junior Designer role. But this wasn’t the first time I met Mat and Gary. I actually first met them when I was 15 doing two weeks of work experience. Back then I had no idea what I wanted to do, and that it would become my first proper job and that I’d actually see the design route through. We kept in touch over the years as I went through the education system and lucky for me I found my way back to LazenbyBrown.
You can read a few things I have learnt, about my experiences within the Graphic Design industry, if you’re just starting out it might reassure you and if you’re a long time in the industry you’ll probably remember your youth (depends how old you are..!)
Stepping foot into the studio on the first day of a brand new job as a Designer is when I realised that it was time to burst the uni bubble and put all the hard work into practice. I knew it was coming as uni was ending but it didn’t properly sink in until the end of my first full week when I got home on the Friday evening, sat down and thought how did I end up here? Not in a negative way but just digesting everything, it’s such a big change. It was weird to close that chapter of my life but also exciting to start a new one and something I was definitely ready for.
I found adjusting to real situations with clients who are willing to spend their hard earned cash on ‘my’ design time at times challenging, but always a learning curve. When speaking to a new client for the first time I’d often think: I don’t know what to say, I don’t know how to act, should I be asking a question here? Am I underdressed? Do they think I’m too inexperienced to bother with? The list goes on…
All these things have taught me it’s about finding out the type of designer I want to be. I haven’t fully found that out yet and I’m not sure its something I will ever be able to pinpoint or even describe myself, as I am constantly growing and changing and so is design. The most important thing I’ve found is having the right attitude to want to learn, to understand that you never stop learning and you never know everything, and that as much as we learn from the big shots, they learn from us young designers too. As cliche as it sounds, it’s this way for a reason — there really is no better way to learn than to throw yourself into your work head first and never say no, even if you have no idea what you’re doing, you’ll learn from it regardless.
I’ve seen people both professionally and not who refuse to take on board criticism of their work because their egos won’t let them and as a result they remain static in their approach to design. I fully believe good things come from things going wrong. It forces you to look for new opportunities and better yourself — without the set backs we wouldn’t know success. It’s helped drive me forward a number of times.
As in life you can’t please everyone, in such a subjective industry this is true too. However, what people can’t fault is your belief in your piece of work. If you can back up what you’re saying who can argue with that? Yes they might disagree but if you remain true to yourself no one can fault that. People value honesty. It saves a lot of time. Although, there are definitely ways of saying things, you don’t have to be a dick about it.
I’ve found that design and the process can only take you so far, the people, sense of community and belonging is something that is so important. You need to have the right energy and guidance around you to thrive and make the most of what you can do. Equally you have to give it out too, otherwise no one will want to work with you!
I was lucky enough to have an amazing group of people around me all the way through uni and it is something I have also found in my place of work. We’re likeminded but at the same time we challenge each other, that’s why it works so well. In addition, I can’t count the amount of daft questions I’ve asked, but I’ve always got a reply and even if it is really daft, I’d be stupid not to ask the question at all because if nothing else it gives us a laugh!
Finally don’t try and be something you’re not. It can be intimidating seeing loads of successful designers, entrepreneurs and well established people, but generally they didn’t get there from being someone else, they were themselves and that’s something you should always be.