I am on a Graphic Design Placement for a year, and have wanted to write about what I have learnt at university, whether that has been useful and how I have applied that in the workplace.
Whilst I look at my screen each day at work and try to solve the visual graphic problems, I often think about the differences of working at uni and working in industry. The main difference is time. The pace of the workplace is 10 times as fast if not more. As a Graphic Design Student, I have more time to visualise my ideas and expand to make them the best they possibly can be. Whereas, in industry you don’t have time to explore many different avenues. The best you can do is come up with two alternatives and that is in a more lengthy brief with a deadline that is further away. You also find yourself working on a project at a speed that suits the deadline, but then that work is needed tomorrow and you have to work fast.
Prioritising is a big part of my job and I have lists and lists. Things get moved up and down the list depending on whether there is a change of plan, another brief comes in that needs to be completed urgently or someone is away and you have to pick up some of their work. This may seem scary and overwhelming but you do get used to it. It is important to realise that workflow and demand comes in peaks and troughs. One week you will be very busy, finding it difficult to complete everything on time, delegating parts out to others and another week you can be quiet but working on a longer more time consuming project that is at the bottom of the priority list.
In terms of software and knowledge of the Adobe suite, I would most definitely say that I have improved an incredible amount since being on placement. This is purely because you have the time to use the programmes and it is more about the finished result than the idea generation in most cases. At university, Photoshop, Illustrator and Indesign were used at the very final point of a brief to give an idea of what the outcome would look like but being on placement has helped me to polish my knowledge of creative programmes which will help in third year, as I will be able to produce digital outcomes much more efficiently than before. However, I had been prepared and exposed to the use of software at university which gave me confidence stepping into the job as it was not completely foreign to me.
Lastly, at university you are producing the design for your expectation of the target audience. However, in the workplace you are producing the work for a colleague and a real life target audience. Therefore, you have to listen to what somebody else wants and envisages and design to their needs rather than running along with your own ideas. At university we listen to the feedback of the tutors to make our ideas better and this simulates the feedback given from the colleague who has asked for the work. Therefore, I am used to listening to other people and responding to their idea and changes.
University sets you up well for the workplace and you progress what you have learnt whilst you are in industry. University gives you the opportunity to explore and learn. It gives you time to work out who you are as a designer and what you have to offer to employees.