Ashlea was our original intern, and ran our blog for 2011. After graduating and getting a job for a year in her hometown, she headed to Melbourne. She is currently focusing on her freelancing work and starting up her own studio. Read her interview below on her transition between being a student to the life of a graduate...
What was your original plan before you graduated for getting a job and how does that compare to what really happened?
My plan was to work as hard as possible on my portfolio and approach studios after graduation to ask them directly for work. I ended up getting a job through a friend and after working there for 11 months I decided I wanted a change and moved to Melbourne. Being stripped away from your contacts is really hard and i've been struggling to find work here. The design industry can be really tough. You will feel pretty disheartened at times, but it's important to not give up. There's always something else around the corner. I've been doing a lot of freelance work and am now planning to start a studio with Jack Loel (jackloel.com) called Layer 2. If you can't get work why not create it.
Do you have any tips for soon to be graduates or the best advice you received?
Try and integrate yourself into the design community as much as you can. Get a job before you graduate or try to do a couple of internships. This could maybe put you ahead of the other talented people you're competing against. Don't be scared to start at the bottom and take on jobs that you might not like. You can learn from any job! Even if you aren't happy with the work you can always take something away from it. Things like knowing the software better, becoming faster at everything, and thinking on your feet. Every job will get you closer to your dream.
Describe your typical day and what students can expect from working in industry.
In a typical day in my last job I would complete 2-3 posters and collateral artwork (facebook, newspapers, billboard etc.) as well as working on some web and app mock-ups if I had extra time. I'll be honest - it was a shock coming from uni into a job! The turnaround was extremely fast and I had to learn to work in a high pressure environment whilst sticking to client requirements. Not every job in the industry will be like this, some will be more slow paced and you'll have the luxury of time to consider your solutions. But I learnt a lot from being thrown into this type of environment, so don't be scared to try things out and be pushed outside of your comfort.
Who are your three most inspiring speakers?
What do you think TDK does well to facilitate the gap between students and industry and what could we do better?
TDK is amazing at helping you establish connections within the industry. I am so lucky to have been apart of Terrible Two's and Threesome. Met some awesome new friends and had fun doing it. Personally I find it really nerve racking to "network." Getting involved as an intern and with the competitions really helped me to build confidence within myself. It's so important to get involved in the design community - you never know where talking to someone could lead.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I've learnt so much being 1 year out of uni so I can only expect I will have been through a lot by the time I get to 5 years! I would love to travel and work somewhere overseas. I want to continue expanding my knowledge of web and app design. I also really love video and would like to have even directed a film or at least know more about the production. My big dream is to hopefully one day be a creative director at a studio or running my own.
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and join our design community of emerging graphic designers around the globe.