As soon as I graduated, I joined the Engine graduate scheme, which is a media and communications grad scheme. It allows you to work in four companies within Engine group, across four different roles, before deciding which suits you best. As someone who wasn’t quite sure what they wanted to do, but eager to get started, it was the perfect opportunity.
I worked in consultancy and service design, PR, customer experience design, then finally in data. Working across those different sectors not only allowed me to learn a wide range of skills, it also gave me a broad understanding of the communications landscape. These days, the creative industries are becoming increasingly intertwined, which means the more industry languages you can speak, the better. So, while I’m probably never going to be a data analyst, I know enough to have informed conversations about machine learning or GDPR [General Data Protection regulation], which comes in surprisingly handy.
At the end of that rotation scheme, I chose to return to my first placement, Transform. Since starting, I’ve worked on a number public sector projects, on everything from product safety to getting people to live healthier lives. Going home at night knowing you’re working on making the world work a little better is wonderful.
Keep company culture in mind
I work mainly within a great team of service designers, who’ve taught me so much about the importance of putting the user at the heart of everything you do. I don’t have a big jazz-hands personality, so finding a community of people who make me feel included and inspired is so vital to me being my best self at work. As you search for roles, don’t overlook a company’s culture – it can make a huge difference to your day.
Finding your skill set sweet spot
Before I worked at Transform, I had no idea what service design was, but I so wish I had. The three things I loved about studying English were its creativity, analysing and researching a topic, and the empathy it required. For me, service design hits a wonderful sweet spot between creativity, analysis, and something very human, with the added bonus of making something real. People talk a lot about transferrable skills when it comes to jobs, but transferrable interests are just as important.
I balance my day job with a side hustle of freelance illustration, because making things keeps me out of trouble and I just couldn’t give it up. It can be a bit of a struggle to find the time to do both, but the things I learn in one make me better at the other. Plus, blogging regularly is the best way to reflect on how much you’ve learned!