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From design graduate to Junior Designer...first steps

by Jordan Lloyd

From design graduate to Junior Designer...first steps

Just weeks after starting my new role as a Junior Designer with Braden Threadgold and my life could not be any more different from that lived by my former student self. I was similar to many students, with the majority of my days spent dealing with dilemmas such as when I was going to be able to afford my next takeaway or how I was going to make it through the latest hangover, squeezing in assignments when I happened to have some free time in my busy social schedule – you could say I lived life by the motto 'work hard, play hard'.

That being said, my design projects were almost like play to me, as these were some of the few assignments that I thoroughly enjoyed completing; this is why it was a no-brainer to go into the design industry and when Braden Threadgold offered me a way in, there was no question as to whether or not I should accept the job.

But how have I dealt with the transition from lazy student to superstar employee of the year?

My transition into working life has been helped tremendously by Braden Threadgold’s welcoming atmosphere as they have taken me under their wing and guided me through a variety of tasks during my short time here so far. I think being a West Ham fan may also have helped with the welcoming atmosphere - the claret and blue army make up half of the Braden Threadgold workforce and I’m sure they’ll be glad that another person can share in their suffering each week, rather than point and laugh at their misfortunes. Being rubbish at table football must also keep the guys happy as they can get an easy win and I have basically been turned into the office coffee machine as a result of my 100% losing streak.

I’ve also noticed that a big difference between design projects at university compared to professional design work is the amount of communication surrounding the projects.

At university I had one 3-hour New Media Publishing workshop per week, where the lecturer would speak for maybe an hour and the rest of the time would be used to practice new techniques or work on assignments. I would also be given a brief which would vaguely tell me what to do for an assignment – I remember one very specific brief telling me to “design a responsive website that has the purpose of selling something”.

In professional work however, clients are much more specific with their needs, often abiding by brand guidelines and knowing almost exactly how they want something to look; we are constantly in contact with clients sending amendments back and forth, offering and receiving feedback until a final copy is agreed upon and signed off.

The amount of time you get for projects is also very different. Whilst at university, deadlines are made known to students from the start of the semester and you may start a piece of work a month in advance once your lecturer first briefs you (although realistically you’ll start it two days before its due and then stay up all night rushing to complete it the night before). On the other hand, deadlines in the workplace can be much shorter and you may be given as little as a day or two to complete a task.

However, despite my new ‘grown-up job’ I still don’t quite feel like a fully functioning adult and I’m still in acquaintance with many of my old student habits, with an eye for a bargain and a tendency to avoid any form of cleaning. I can tell I’m getting older though - the hangovers last longer!

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