Experiences of a not-quite-graduate - Bright Blue Day
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Experiences of a not-quite-graduate

At the grand age of nine I created my first magazine, involving my four-year-old sister as Assistant Editor and multiple issues emailed out regularly to ‘grateful’ family members.  Despite this being my first graphic design masterpiece, I’m mostly thankful that thosePowerPoint files have been lost. It did, however, lead to bigger and better things: a second magazine at age 10 (my attention span was apparently minimal) and eight years later taking an A Level Art and being Graphics Editor for the college magazine before flying across the world from school in Dubai to ArtsUniversity Bournemouth, first undertaking a Foundation Diploma. 

I loved the Foundation at AUB so much that I stayed on there for my degree in Graphic Design too. From wacky first-year briefs and pitching at the Design Museum in London to coding my own website and partaking in a mad ‘speed-dating’ style networking event in the second year, university so far has been a wild ride and I have certainly come a long way from the immaculate editorial work of nine-year-old me.  Now some twelve years later in the summer before final year in my degree, I am pushing to get as much broad experience as I can with some freelance work and a few agency placements organised so far, including this two-week internship at BBD!

As an all-rounder designer, I wanted to experience different types of agencies and design in the ‘real world’ so I could see what I want todo after graduating, or even what I don’t want to do.  This led me to low-key stalking well over twenty companies, with most not responding to my emails or only entertaining graduates.  Despite these mildly disappointing moments, I persevered but I would be lying if I didn’t say that I got very frustrated at points where it felt like every door was being closed.  It was certainly a lesson in patience but persistence – it’s a long game to be played.

In this case my perseverance paid off when I was invited to different interviews which meant the time came to talk about my portfolio in a convincing manner to ‘real’ people (industry professionals as opposed to tutors or my mum).  This was terrifying and I probably nervously cracked some stupid jokes but all-in-all it went well and moreover was great experience as I realised most people are friendly and are actually interested in your work – a great confidence boost and reassurance that putting myself out there was a good idea.  No one would have seen me if I remained hidden.

I was over the moon to be offered a number of placements inBournemouth and London, which meant I could gain insight into differing agencies in different cities and working cultures.  As an avid organiser, it felt like a game ofTetris fitting everything in and around each other which felt remarkably satisfying at the beginning but proved to cause some difficulties half way through when an agency had to reschedule and freelance work was offered at the same time – suddenly my perfectly balanced stack of blocks was wobbling.  I had to learn that taking every opportunity is great but I physically can’t do everything as I can’t be in two places at once, some people are fussy about meeting times and to be honest some things just aren’t worth it.  One word:prioritise.

Most work placements are unpaid so it does mean that I will have to continue the few shifts a week at my pub job but luckily the regulars are lovely and these experiences are helping me invest in my future as a graduate designer: I feel less nervous to contact people, I am connecting with people who may be future mentors and I have a clearer understanding of the types of agencies out there and which I like.

Going into my final year at university I am 80% excited and motivated, 20% terrified.  The briefs this year will play to our strengths and interests but there will of course be the real world looming ever closer as the days tick by.  I had hoped I would find my calling in design after these placements but actually feel that my eyes have been opened to even more aspects in the industry, such as creative strategy – a double-edged sword of more exciting opportunities to learn with a continuing designer-identity crisis.

Perhaps I will have my epiphany moment this year…

Isobel Fiske, 2nd year Graphic Design student at AUB


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