First Hand — Junior designer Ed Hatfield reflects on his first year out of university, and why coding is an essential skill
Ed Hatfield graduated from Winchester School of Art’s Graphic Design BA last year. Now a junior designer at design agency POST, he recounts his experience of moving to London, interning and exploring the design industry’s interconnectedness.
I remember the last few weeks of university being a huge rush. I was in contact with a few studios in London leading up to our degree show, and I landed my first internship post-graduation, at a great interactive design agency called Kin – found through our university’s jobs board. Even though the internship was only for a month, I decided to move to London and find a base. In hindsight this proved to be really important; I got to know London as a city, attend talks and visit studios – all things that helped me grow my contacts.
Living and working in London has been expensive, but mostly inspirational. Surrounding myself with the work of studios and people I look up to has definitely made me enjoy design far more than I used to. I didn’t really have a sense of what I liked and didn’t like while studying, but I’ve definitely come to see what type of work I’m drawn to – and that’s mostly down to my colleagues and the environment I now live in. Everything connects somehow – everyone seems to know everyone which I find quite exciting.
At Winchester we were introduced to a lot of people over the course of three years. I managed to get to know, and maintain contact with, a handful of people at branding agency Moving Brands, before starting an internship there when I graduated. I really enjoyed the environment, but I knew I wanted to move on and explore somewhere new, like POST.
In at the deep end
You often hear that you’ll be lucky to get a paid internship and that you’ll do all the shit jobs. But from my experience, I was actually treated very well. Maybe I’ve just been lucky, but by the sounds of it there’s been a really positive change in the way entry-level designers are treated. I was thrown into the deep end at Moving Brands but always felt that my opinion was respected, and that I wasn’t just expected to make the tea!
Something I didn’t realise before is that the ability to sell an idea can really set a great design studio apart. At Moving Brands, I spent three months on a corporate identity job. The pace of work was the biggest learning curve – not specifically producing quality work at twice the speed (that comes with practice) but more the quantity of work. I was used to spending ages on projects at university and getting it pixel perfect, but creative directors really want to see ideas, not pieces of art! I had to detach myself from the quality and expand the range of my ideas. Having said this, I think I’ll always try to perfect every bit of work I do.
“Being able to code is a big advantage in today’s industry and something I’d highly recommend students learn.”
Old friends, new skills
I used to work on freelance jobs with a few lads at university who I lived with, which has continued a little. I’ve recently developed a microsite with one of them who is a developer. Being a graduate with the ability to code is a big advantage in today’s industry and definitely something that I’d highly recommend students learn.
Giving it your all
You become more comfortable and confident talking to potential future employers about your work through practice and receiving honest feedback (which is where a drunk tutor comes in really handy!) And over time you’ll begin to build up a better picture of the industry, helping you become more knowledgable and relatable.
Rinse your internships for all they’re worth! It’s easy to turn your back on something that you don’t like – but I wish I’d given my all every day before saying it wasn’t for me. Focus on the work you’ve been given and try not to be distracted by the thought of working somewhere else.
From internships to launching startups and everything in between, we’re looking to showcase a variety of experiences across the creative industries. So whether you’re a recent graduate or creative with a lesson learned or story to share from your first 12 months, get in touch at [email protected]