How to get yourself hookedWritten by Matt Thom 15 October 2021
‘Finally, freedom!’ to ‘oh cr*p I need a job’. The escape from studying to finding your first big break in the design industry is never easy, but it is one you should enjoy and take every chance to connect and learn.
That next step of celebrating your degree show and waving goodbye to student life, with the prospect of actually getting paid for what you love, can quite quickly go from blissful excitement to daunting paranoia. However, I really believe that creatives and agencies have a responsibility to be there for those looking to get started in the industry. We’re not all going to be freely available, but don’t be afraid to reach out and definitely jump on any opportunities for set briefs, portfolio reviews and internships.
Hannah, our interning Junior Designer and Vicki, our Junior Designer, have written a little about their break-through into agency life and their experiences so far.
Hannah Sloan, 1HQ Junior Designer, Intern
I graduated from NUA in 2019 and the jump into industry proved to be a massive learning curve. Whilst my degree had taught me to work quickly, in the first 6 months of interning I learnt so many new skills around how to work independently, improve my time management and assess my own work.
With 7 internships at 5 different agencies in my first 6 months of interning, the way I now design has certainly been molded by a multitude of approaches. By mixing with designers and freelances, all at different stages of their career, I quickly learnt methods that were 10x quicker than those I’d been using!
At the start of my journey, I had learnt to adapt, ask the right questions, and had gained amazing connections; however, jobs were lacking due to the uncertainty of Brexit. I took January off to re-energise and had two more placements before the first lockdown of 2020. I completed the second at home which was another learning curve – I soon discovered I work better bouncing ideas off people and having to self-motivate was a challenge.
In the New Year, my friend Vicki from Norwich University of the Arts, told me that 1HQ, for whom she works, were looking for an intern. I applied and was lucky enough to be selected. My whole placement has been working from home but throughout this challenging time for everyone, 1HQ have been incredibly supportive. There’s always been someone to help or just to chat and I’ve not felt isolated. I feel part of the team.
I’ve been given greater responsibilities and been lucky enough to have recently work on some amazing briefs, from Surf to FLiNG to 1HQ’s magazine Cue for which I designed the cover of the latest edition. I’ve loved working with the team at 1HQ and now I can’t imagine working anywhere else!
My advice to future graduates would be to line up several internships to gain different experiences, but ensure you give yourself time between each to take stock of what you’ve learnt and avoid burn out.
Vicki Shaw, 1HQ Junior Designer
I started interning with 1HQ in August 2019, newly graduated from Norwich University of the Arts. After a 4-month internship, I was offered a full-time position as a Junior Designer.
The transition from intern to junior designer was seamless. Everyone at 1HQ were so friendly and welcoming from the start. I had already become part of the team, so a move full-time felt like a natural next step. I have always wanted to be a medium sized cog in a medium sized machine so I could make a real impact within a studio, and this is has become a reality working at 1HQ.
I have worked on a multitude of projects at 1HQ, ranging from creative pack designs and global roll out initiatives to communications and editorial work. I’ve had the opportunity to make a difference to huge household named brands including Nomad Foods, Tesco, Surf and Tate & Lyle.
Over the past year I have been given incremental responsibilities as a Junior Designer, in terms of workload and taking on new, challenging projects. Being given more responsibility has meant that I have gained more confidence in myself. I have learnt to work efficiently, not to be afraid to point out challenges that may arise and predict client needs. My work has also been influenced positively with guidance from the talented designers around me.
Working at home during a pandemic provides its own set of challenges. Whether that’s technology failure, sending and receiving files or juggling the work and home life balance – all of which can be difficult at times. However, I feel that this has encouraged me to push myself to become more independent and learn to work in a very different environment.
Maybe the future of flexible working will help support more personal and professional growth opportunities for interns and junior designers in years to come!
The key to any internship or job opportunity is to keep your confidence high – be proud of your work and tell us about your big ideas, how did you get there. Flashy visuals are great but as a design agency we care about what makes you tick, what triggered that brain wave – we want to see how your creative mind works.
And when that chance comes along don’t think just because you are in a junior position that you won’t contribute. Get stuck in and don’t be afraid to explore and make mistakes – more often than not they aren’t mistakes and help spark new ideas.