I was recently asked to visit Staffordshire University to talk to 2nd and 3rd year students about how I progressed in my career. As a graduate of the university I jumped at the chance to revisit the design studio, and most importantly, give something back! The main aim of the talk was to highlight to the students that they don’t necessarily have to end up in a job that directly reflects their degree. I completed a Transport Design degree at the university, and upon graduating it was abundantly clear that the car industry (especially in the UK) was quietening off rapidly. The jobs that were available were few and far between, and the chance of getting one was slim. I decided I would take a side step, and target other areas in the creative industry. I got myself a job at B&Q to tide me over, and satisfy my need for an Audi TT. Rather than just get comfy in a full time job, I ignored all opportunities to progress within the company, as I had no interest in retail whatsoever. I found a part time photography course at Stafford College, as I was rapidly gaining interest in SLR photography. I completed the photography course, milking it for every bit of information/inspiration I could get. I also started using Adobe Illustrator to hone my graphic design skills, completing some free branding jobs for friends and family. A few months later I got a call from a friend I met at University, he worked for a toy company called Golden Bear, and I had previously sent a CV to them. He mentioned that a job had come up, and he had recommended me, so I should expect a phone call soon.
I got the phone call, and went for my first interview. It went very well, and I got the job, although it was clear I would have to get practising on Illustrator, as I was to be a “junior graphic designer”. I couldn’t hand in my notice to B&Q any quicker, and was really looking forward to starting at Golden Bear. I quickly settled in to my role, working on things like the London 2012 Olympics packaging, JBC packaging, corporate branding and loads of cool projects. I eventually took over packaging design, and also brought photography in house, saving the company around £10’000 a year. I set up a studio in a small room, and was responsible for taking the catalogue photos etc. I worked at Golden Bear for 3 years, capitalising on every opportunity, and then when the time was right I left to start SO Visual.
I’m glad I could visit the university, as it’s clear to me now that I knew very little as a student. I’d argue I potentially took the wrong degree as I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted, but I could also argue that it doesn’t really matter too much, as long as you take small steps to ensure you tailor your career to you.
I’m the most bearded one…