How to Break into the Design Industry

How to break into the design industry | Studio Seventeen

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Gareth Roberts

Gareth Roberts

Creative Director

Are you a student that wants to get into the creative industry? You may still be studying or you may have graduated but either way, you will probably be wondering how to break into the creative industry. As the Creative Director of Studio Seventeen, I thought I’d give you some guidance about how you can get your foot in the door.

First Impressions

The first thing that I see when I open up your application is your portfolio, and you need to make sure that it stands out. The key is to have enough information about your projects without me losing interest. Make sure to display your best work first. You’ll get a stronger reaction from good visuals than from long paragraphs of text. Think of your portfolio in a similar way to an Instagram feed. Whoever you send it to will work through it pretty quickly, so try and make it memorable with plenty of impact.

The most effective way to send your portfolio is if you send it as a PDF. Make sure the PDF has good quality imagery but make sure you have saved it at a reasonable file size. No more than 10Mb is plenty! And finally, make sure that your portfolio has no spelling mistakes, the grammar reads well and any outbound links are tested.

Social Media

Always include links to your social media accounts such as Instagram and LinkedIn, as well as your website if you have one. Sometimes it may be beneficial to set up a ‘work’ Instagram to separate your work from your personal life. Remember to test your website before you send out links. It’s important that everything looks as good as possible and works correctly. If you’ve won awards or entered competitions then shout about it – this counts towards experience and is something employers like to see. As an employer, we are looking for talented individuals with a creative flair and a passion for what they do. If your portfolio is of a good standard and your social media channels are attractive with good quality consistent content you are likely to get an interview.

The Interview

Interviews can be nerve-wracking for some people, but you’re in a good position. You already have an interview, and that means that the agency is already interested in you! Make sure you are prepared by having a few projects to discuss. Talk about your brief, the challenge, and ultimately your solution. You also need to learn to take criticism. Try not to take it personally though, treat it as constructive feedback; it should make you work harder.

Do Your Research

Make sure you do your research on the agency that you are applying to. Check out their website and look through their work. It would also benefit you if you read up about the company, its team and their culture. You might find out more if you look at their social media channels too. Try discussing a blog post that the agency has written that interests you. It will go in your favour as it shows the interviewer that you have taken an interest in the agency and done some background research.

Other Tips

Here are a few tips that I think will help you be successful in getting your foot in the door. This could be some work experience, an internship or potentially your first creative job.

  1. Make sure you get to your appointment on time or slightly before. If you arrive a little bit early you will feel more relaxed and it will give you a few minutes to compose yourself and get yourself ready for your interview.
  2. Make sure you have good manners and be polite. Your first impression is so important.
  3. Make sure you dress appropriately for the role and agency you are applying to – your research into their company and social media should help you determine what would be appropriate. Make sure you are presentable and don’t be afraid to showcase your personality.
  4. Take a notepad with you or ask if it’s okay to take notes on your laptop/device. This shows the interviewer that you are taking an interest. Most meetings in the workplace usually require taking notes. It’s good practice and is definitely a good sign.
  5. Feel free to ask questions; if you don’t you may regret it afterwards. Don’t be afraid to speak and show your confidence.
  6. Don’t be afraid to discuss your interests outside of work too. As an employer, I’m interested in the things that you like to participate in outside of work hours. This may be your favourite band, where you socialise or where you have travelled, for example. They all give the employer a good feel for who you are.

Ultimately, all of these things will help the employer decide if you’ll be a good fit for the agency and its culture.

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