Can I Design Yet?
The placement I have for this year was an unexpected opportunity offered to me at the end of GMD year 2. Before I started the DPS year, I also worked in a café based in Shoreditch alongside studying. Around mid-July 2019 the director of a short-term lettings management company expressed his satisfaction with the service I provided. The director happened to be searching for an assistant to help alleviate the pressure of starting up and encouraged me to apply by forwarding him my CV. He further asked about my background and explained how there had been a lot of work accumulating for a period of time. I’m always sceptical when I get job offers based on spontaneous interactions so I was keen on judging the legitimacy of the offer based on the interview we later set up. I think it’s important to question your instincts rather than acting without a reason. I was able to identify that working in a stereotypical female assistant role for a successful businessman was probably not going to be a dream job but working in a company just starting-up may be valuable experience. My safety as a female also factored into my scepticism when I learned that the office also doubles as one of the properties under company management so arranging the interview in a public place before starting the job was also important. This awareness naturally compelled me to evaluate my expectations for the role as the director’s assistant and how I could incorporate graphic design into the role. By practising this it directly affected my ability to set an achievable goal for which I intend on working towards.
As their first official assistant I was in charge of documenting all of the processes I upheld from purchasing new furniture to interacting with guests. Although I see advantages in a flexible work environment, it is challenging because without any examples of achievement the direction of my efforts are often intuitive. It’s especially intimidating having to explain a process to my employer because of how junior my role is. The job role isn’t clearly defined so a lot of my daily routine involves me finding my own projects. Of course, there was an induction where training was provided but I’m beginning to realise that this role relies on good communication and having a close relationship with the director which one could argue is not the purpose of an internship. Perhaps, this can be an indirect way for me to practice being a good communicator as a designer as well.
As the company doesn’t have an online presence I’ve started researching real estate logo designs in anticipation for a new branding project. It was frustrating to learn that my responsibilities didn’t have much to do with design especially because I was promised involvement in the design of the logo and website prior to my hiring. I eventually asked about what the intentions were for the companies web presence and whether I could be put on this project when the time suited. That conversation prompted my director to ask for my portfolio which was what I’d hoped for. It’s encouraging that even after seeing my portfolio I was still asked to design the company logo without any professional help. I’m now a few days in, developing the logo and the dynamic of my relationship with the director has changed to a client-designer relationship. I’ve never been commissioned to make a logo before so for the most part I feel like I’m on the right path. This is a good example of the advantages in a flexible work environment. However, I’m concerned about my projects after I complete the logo. I hoped to be given the opportunity to design the website next but it doesn’t seem to be a high priority in the company right now. If design is continuously treated as a second or last priority I may have to re-evaluate my position in the company.
By Prae Thompson
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