A little bird once told me that good design starts with your heart and ends in your traps. There were one too many times where I pulled an all-nighter on a project that led to me having major heart palpitations and just really intense knots in my shoulders. I could try to convince myself that it was worth it in the end because I liked the final outcome, but really, I would say that it’s much better to have balance and take regular breaks to rest, eat and exercise.
I also wish I had known more about the different pathways in design! In one of my final year subjects, we had a task to reflect on a designer we admired, the places we wanted to work at, and what jobs were currently out there. I think this exercise would’ve been extremely valuable at the beginning of my course to start thinking about what’s possible. Being able to attend more events to meet other designers and learn about how they got to where they are would have been really helpful as well.
This isn’t really relevant during COVID-19, but I wish I had known about the importance of planning early for studying and/or working abroad. I was fortunate enough to study a semester abroad in Germany in my third year of uni and it was a completely life-changing experience! However, had I known about my options earlier, I would have tried to arrange my course in a way so that I could have done more design subjects overseas and perhaps completed an internship too. Only mentioning this because if there is anyone out there who is thinking about studying abroad and has the opportunity to do it, I would highly recommend it!
I also wish I had taken advantage of all the free services and benefits available to uni students. This includes things like laser cutting and woodworking, but also other life stuff like counselling services and flu shots. I had no clue these were free up until the very end of my degree!
I always loved art and drawing as a young grasshopper, but thought that design was more of a hobby rather than something to pursue as a profession.
Throughout high school, I thought that I would have to do something that felt more ‘stable’ like medical radiations or pharmacy. I also thought about doing just a commerce degree because it seemed like this was the path to go down. However, when I received my final year 12 marks, I realised that I performed a lot better at communication design compared to any of my other subjects.
Despite this, I still didn’t have a lot of confidence to take just a single design course, so I decided to study a double degree in design and business. Fortunately, I was able to get a scholarship to study this too, which made the decision a lot easier for me. I was really hedging a lot so my thought process was that if I hated it then I would be able to study another course without racking up a lot of student debt — I only realise now how anxious I was back then! Luckily, I ended up enjoying my uni experience and am really thankful for my time there.
At the moment, I’m working as a designer and marketer for an app called One Small Step that helps people reduce their personal carbon footprint. It’s a small start-up, so things move really quickly which is both exciting and challenging. I also do a bit of freelancing on the side for digital design, marketing and photography so I would love to be able to continuously improve my skills in these areas. I’d also love to learn more about product design and the process of creating physical products!
Try to find a connection between the assignments that you do and the interests that you have. When you’re working on something that you’re genuinely passionate about or interested in, you’ll naturally put in more effort and do better work in the process. The marks will follow, and you’ll already have something that you’re proud of in your portfolio which will make applying for jobs a lot easier.
This is what’s called the 4 P’s of Getting Ahead*
*Okay, I confess, there are no official 4 P’s to getting ahead and I’m probably too influenced by the 4 P’s of marketing or the world of listicles and clickbait-y titles. I’m sure there are way more and better P’s or letters that can be added, but I guess this might just work for now!?
Melbourne is a pretty cool place for design and there are always events happening that allow you to connect with and get inspired by other designers! Even during the pandemic, there have been some interesting online events and talks hosted by some Melbourne-based creatives. However, I’m definitely looking forward to a time where we can do these in person again!
As for the companies I’d like to work with, I think any company — whether they are a small business, start-up or a well-known brand — whose values, purpose and interests align with mine would be the dream to collaborate with.
If I were to go down the design agency or consultancy route, I think companies like DesignIt, Frog Design or Pentagram would be great places to work at and learn in.
I find it quite difficult to think in 5-year timeframes, and if I’m honest, I just don’t think so far ahead (see: Thinking About You by Frank Ocean). Song references aside, I do keep a rough plan for the next couple of years and I’m keen to spend the next year or so exploring my skills and interests to see what I enjoy the most.
At the moment, UX design seems like an interesting path to go down, but I am open to learning about other areas like branding and art direction too. Whatever the case, I would love to be able to work overseas for a bit, and work on a range of different projects in a variety of industries. I also imagine that I’d become more confident in my work and would be able to share my experience and teach other students or grads coming into the design industry. At some point, I’d also love to work for myself!
Be mindful of what type of work creates the knots in your shoulders, and spend more time with people that help undo those knots.