This is going to be quite a long blog post, but I hope you enjoy reading it. I am going to be talking about my week of work experience, and how I felt it went. Maybe you are reading this because you are simply interested in what I was up to, or maybe you have got a week or two of work experience coming up soon and want to know how I found the whole experience. Either way, I hope you enjoy reading and find it useful!
How I got the placement
I worked at “Assembly Studios” in Shoreditch, which is a “design studio, providing high quality solutions for identity, print, web, interactive, CG illustration and animation”. I got this placement through somebody that my dad knows, and then when I was told about the company I sent them an email asking for a place for the week, a bit like a mini CV. I basically explained my skills and what I wanted to get out of the experience, and they let me know that I could come!
Honestly, I was terrified at the prospect of travelling into London for a week. The week of the placement fell on the first week after GCSEs (exams done by 16 year olds in the UK), so although I didn’t have much time to overthink what could happen as I would usually do, I did get pretty anxious on the weekend before. I knew that the company focused on design and branding, both of which I am interested in, so that excited me. I would 100% recommend putting effort into finding a good placement, as it will be SO much more enjoyable for you. I had been corresponding with the office administrator who was really lovely and made sure I knew where I was going on the first day, as well as timings for the da and even little details such as where I would be eating. I think that if you can find somebody at the placement before you go to have a conversation with, it will make you feel a lot more relaxed going into the experience.
Travelling around London for me was one of the most daunting parts of the whole experience for me. Although I have gone to London with family and friends many times, travelling completely alone was a new experience that I can’t say I enjoyed at the start. If you are a newby to trains and buses in London like I was, I cannot recommend the “google maps” app enough (different to the regular maps app on your iPhone). Not only can you see how long it will take to travel to where you need to be with live GPS, but it will plan out every aspect of the route for you with bus numbers and timings. My journey consisted of an hour (ish) train ride, a small walk to a bus stop, where I got a bus which took about 15 minutes. This was then followed by a short walk to the studio itself.
On the first day as I was getting home, I had a bit of a nightmare on the bus to the station! I saw that I went past my stop and panicked, and rather than pressing the stop button I sat still and was petrified as we just kept going and I didn’t know what to do. I then got up and stood awkwardly next to the driver, an ordeal which lasted a good few minutes. I finally managed to squeak out “I need to stop” to which she asked where. When I told her she laughed, telling me that the place I needed to be was a while back. V HELPFUL, THANKS.
At this point,I just got off randomly in the middle of the road and ran back for ages to where I should have stopped trying to not cry and stress, and by some miracle, I was even able to catch the train! After that I started to understand the buses/trains and I feel a lot more confident now, which I think is a good skill to have generally. I even started to enjoy travelling, as I used it as an excuse to listen to music and take in London, which is a city which I LOVE so so much after this experience. If you are wondering how I paid for all of the travel, I used my contactless card for buses and a week ticket for trains, so payment was not an issue or stress during the week as I was worried it would be.
The first day was by far the most scary day. I had no idea where I was going, who I was meeting and what I would be doing. I also had all of the irrational worries going on in my head such as being worried that the clothes I was wearing were not right, or that I wouldn’t be able to get lunch, or that I would be awkward and not know what to say and would sound utterly inarticulate and idiotic. I got there early and followed the instructions that I was sent in the email. I went to the second floor and through the double doors as instructed, and proceeded to look for the “first door on the right” as instructed. I saw a door as stared at it for a good few seconds before making the realization that I was staring at a cupboard. Good start.
I then went to the real first door on the right and was welcomed by the woman whom I had been talking to, and showed me around before assigning me a desk, notebook and pen. One of the things I instantly noticed was the office: it had a large amount of exposed brick which gave it an almost industrial feeling, (imagine the Humphrey apartment in Gossip Girl!) and had huge windows to let in loads of light, which I loved! All of the people who worked there were very friendly and the atmosphere was very intelligent and fast paced, which I cherished. I saw many people frantically working at computers, drawing amazing buildings and designing various logos. I also noticed that the environment, although fast paced, seemed relaxed to an extent. Some people even had full height desks so they could stand while they worked! It was a very cool office (for want of a better word). I spend the day getting used to the workplace, sitting in on design meetings and seeing the process that the teams go through. I also had a skype call with the CEO who couldn’t be there, and just like all of the other employees, he was very friendly and welcoming.
If you know Shoreditch then you will know that there are no end of exciting places to eat. For the first day I choose LEON and had an amazing halloumi wrap which I definitely recommend. It is a great area for street photography, so I took some photos of the art and buildings. After an hour of looking around the markets (with Hannah, the person who I had been emailing), we headed back to the office and I continued to sit in on meeting and was briefed on a project that I would do in my downtime which involved investigating trends and predictions in media. Before I knew it, the 10:30-3:30 day was over and I headed home (not seamlessly if you remember my bus incident!). At the end of the day I was tired, frustrated at the journey, but was incredibly excited about the rest of the week.
After the first day I felt much more confident in what I was doing. I met with 4 different people to talk about their jobs and roles in the company. I can’t remember the last time I felt as inspired and excited for the future and my career as then. I felt so focused in what I want to do in the future, and as I continued with my project, I realized that if you are working on something that you enjoy, it doesn’t feel like work. I believe very strongly in the motto of “if you have a job that you love and you’ll never have to do a day of work in your life”. Although it is a pretty intense job with deadlines and a large amount of responsibility, it all really excited me!
I had multiple meetings and conversations with a few different people and I asked them about their job and what it involved. I met with a creative director, designer, technical director and CG artist. Everyone was very friendly and I learned a lot about what their jobs entailed and how they worked together. The creative director was in the UAE so I talked over Skype, and he worked in print, illustration, animation, branding, websites, graphics, advertising and CGI, so covered a very large range of sectors of the industry which meant that his job was varied and interesting, with many different projects. I was particularity excited by my meeting with the designer who’s job largely consisted of working with a brief to create a logo, font, colour schemes and photography styles for a brand, among other things. I was shown a “brand book” which had many aspects to it such as concept statements and logos, as well as how the logo would be used on the website and in other ways. This job particularly interested me as it was creative and varied, so there would not be a large amount of repetition. Before this week I could not imagine having one job for the rest of my life, but after seeing these jobs, I started to realize how varied it could be in a specific job as there are constantly new projects and brands who want different things from you, so the job is different every day. I also met with the technical director over Skype, who’s job was very involved with websites and servers, and although it was a very interesting meeting where I learned a lot, I don’t think it is a job that I would like to do. It is very technical and involved making websites for clients. He mentioned how WordPress was difficult to customize and get to exactly how the client wanted it, so websites have to be custom made. It was a really interesting meeting, and he also showed me the advertising campaign for Battersea Dogs Home which you can watch here, which used NFC (Near Field Communications) to make it look like the dog was following the people, with the #lookingforyou! The CG artist was the last person I talked to and what he was doing was incredible! He was part of a team who create virtual images to show buildings and their interiors to help to market and sell a building or concept. He works with architects and interior designers to create virtual images which are beautiful, and apparently can take a week per image! They also showed me and animation of a building’s interior which was entirely digitally created, and took months to create. I loved hearing about these people’s jobs, especially as I could tell that every person was passionate about what they were doing.
By Wednesday I was more used to the journey to the office and new the people who I was working with, and felt a lot more confident. I came into work and continued to work on my research task, and then had a meeting with the Account Manager. I didn’t know much about what that meant, and had presumed that it was dealing with money (“bank accounts”), but I was wrong! There is so much to that job name that I had no idea was related! Not only did she deal with the budgeting and accounts, but she worked with clients, bridging the gap between the creative team and the clients, and deciding what was possible in the time and budget etc. She also talked to me about how she manages the social media aspect of the company, which I loved hearing about! Being somebody who loves communicating and discovering people and ideas through social media, hearing about it in a professional sense was so fascinating. I learned about the tone of posts and how it changes throughout certain sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter. I also saw what sort of posts they posted, such as interacting with others and sharing their own work. I found this meeting super exciting and interesting, and it is something I will definitely look into as a potential career path.
I also spent a large amount of the afternoon with the designer who I talked to on Tuesday and we talked about logos and also how to use various programs such as Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop. I found it very interesting and I found out a lot about how to create a logo based around a brand and how to use the programs, as well as when each program would be used. When I left, my friend Lydia messaged me asking if we could meet up, so I met her in Covent Garden and had a little shop! We went to kikki.k (MY FAVE) where I got this card which I am going to frame and this lovely mug! It was a bit of a later journey back but I really enjoyed travelling around London with my friend in addition to the day of work.
When I first arrived at the office I was asked to talk to a few people in the meeting room about my project that I had been working on, which was slightly daunting at first, and made me feel a bit like I was at school doing a presentation for the teachers. But there was a difference. I was talking about each slide and what I had been researching, but everyone was discussing what I was talking about and added their own ideas, and it was such a nice atmosphere compared to what i’m used to at school. When I am doing a presentation in class, the teachers are often quite condescending and act as if you are a child, so it was nice to be treated as an equal with important ideas to contribute rather than one of 30 slightly irrelevant children in a classroom. I really enjoyed that experience.
For the rest of the morning I talked to another CG artist, this time being shown the actual process of creating an image on a computer. There were literally hundreds of tiny stages and there is so much thought and skill that goes into every single aspect of the image, and I found it really interesting to see how all of the small details worked together to create a final image.
In the afternoon I finished off my mood boards with different images relating to topics such as wearable technology and NFC, and in the afternoon I met my friend Lydia at the Tate Modern to have a little look around. I really enjoyed going there and the whole afternoon was lovely. Because Lydia was a bit later arriving than me, I had some time to myself. I bought a hot chocolate and sat on the grass by the River Thames and had a little writing session. Being the introvert I am, that is literally one of my favorite things to do. I really appreciate time alone like that, and it put me in quite a relaxed, mindful state. This meant that when I went into the gallery I felt as if I could really take in the art and my surroundings, making the experience really peaceful and interesting.
I was so disappointed on Friday that the whole experience was over so soon. The day consisted of finishing the mood boards and printing them off to create a display board. For lunch pretty much all of the employees went to this little rooftop place in Shoreditch called BoxPark. I got some amazing oregano fries, but there were so many amazing little places to choose from, so if you are in Shoreditch I highly recommend it there. Anyway, in the afternoon I only had a few more hours at my placement which were spent chatting with some of the other employees, as well as looking at some interesting design blogs an websites. They had also got a cake for my last day (<3) so we all had some cake and tea and it was such a lovely day.
So, conclusion time!! This week was amazing. The people who I was working with were so kind and helpful, and were very generous with their time. I met with so many of them and learned so much about different roles in the company, and I loved it. I also cherished every minute of the independence and sense of freedom I got from travelling around London, going shopping and seeing museums, and discovering more of the city. That’s the other thing I absolutely adored: the city itself. I love the scale of London, and I found myself so inspired just by looking up at the buildings and the hundreds of thousands of busy people rushing past me. I also learned how to travel,which is pretty important as it turns out!! Before the week began I literally couldn’t catch a bus, but now I can travel by train and bus easily, which are things I love doing.
If you get the chance to do any work experience, then I would say 100% do it, and try to find somewhere you know you wlil be interested and inspired, or maybe even use it as an opportunity to test if a career is for you. You get a real insight into what life in the job will be like, which is obviously so important. In hindsight, it was one of the best experiences of my life where I learned a lot, and I feel much more focused about what I want to do in my future, and that is such a relief for me who is someone who is (was?) fairly terrified when thinking about the future.
Thank you so much for reading this! I hope you enjoyed it.