The job search is a tiring saga that awaits every graduate. For me, it was not only a test of perseverance but also a gradual discovery of what I really wanted to do with my future. The scary stuff. Now that I have accepted a position and had time to reflect on the past few months, documenting the experience feels like a natural first post for my blog.
I delved into the process with enthusiasm in late June. At this point, I had every intention of joining an agency as a Junior Designer. Industry job listings were scoured daily and various positions applied for. The interviews followed and eventually became so regular, they felt somewhat like a job in themselves. I had reasonable success at this stage. The furthest I got was a trial day competing with another candidate for a position. Looking back now I feel fairly relieved I wasn’t the one hired. Nothing was wrong with the company; in fact they have been recognised as an exceptional place of work. Still, something didn’t feel right for me. For a while I attributed this to nerves but when the nagging feeling persisted in later interviews I decided to give it a bit more thought.
A turning point for me was the discovery of an unfamiliar set of agency job roles. I would never have had my eyes opened to the alternate career paths available to me had I been hired early on. Smith & Milton, an agency based in London, allowed me to discover what suited me best. After I sent a speculative email their way, they invited me in for a chat. I’m so grateful for the time they gave me, explaining the roles in layman’s terms and allowing me to meet people in different departments. I came away with renewed enthusiasm and looking for work in Project Management/Research. I knew I wanted to be in a creative environment but this type of role also satisfied my love for verbal communication, business, organisation and most importantly research.
“I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it” Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson sums up my approach from then on rather well. It is also the one bit of advice I would share with anyone still looking: you have to make opportunities for yourself. Don’t just check job listings – go directly to agencies you think would be a good fit. Are they recruiting? Do they take on interns? Make a contact list of those you admire and send them a (well written and personal) cover letter with your CV. Don’t just send one or two because the harsh reality is that the majority won’t get back to you. If nothing comes of that, try another location or a company that might have an in-house design department. Get creative. Having said all of that, I think it is perfectly acceptable for us all to take a day off now and then. Even if it’s just to sulk about an interviewer not getting back to you or losing out on work experience to someone that’s… got more experience.
One aspect of the process that I didn’t anticipate being so difficult was the tough decision making. Should I accept a job that I didn’t feel positive about after the interview experience? Early on I think I would have taken anything that came my way. I was desperate to move full steam ahead. However, going to the effort of exploring my options, shifted my focus from the security of any permanent position to making sure what I accepted made me happy. However, this isn’t to be confused with turning your nose up at entry-level positions that don’t seem very exciting. For me, I was happy to do the grunt work as long as it set me on the path for the right role.
The fact that I didn’t have a job when I began writing this post and now have one secured at the time of publishing, shows just how quickly everything can change. It’s so important to persevere. A whole new set of challenges await me at the start of this next chapter. With a healthy set of nerves, I’m looking forward to throwing myself into the next great learning experience. Wish me luck!