Tom Medlicott racked up a serious number of internship applications before settling in with Brompton Bikes as part of his DPS year. Here he reflects on his experiences so far.
After 126 job applications to 44 cities in 19 countries, 52 rejections, 8 interviews, 5 offers and 1 unsuccessful meeting with a design hero of mine, I had already learned huge amounts about the design industry before even setting foot anywhere near an agency. This was as disheartening as 52 rejections sounds although a number of designers and agencies took time to substantiate their feedback. Amidst a sea of non-repliers and impersonal copy + paste responses this was something I could only look upon positively and the portfolio I started this process with is a very different piece of work to the one I use now.
The old saying of who you know, not what rang true as after 2 chance conversations with friends I had not seen in years I was in a job within 2 weeks. I initially picked up work as a freelancer at Brompton Bicycle, it was well paid but my preconceptions about the product weren’t good owing to what I viewed as its typical middle aged city financier client base. As I was still being pulled through application after application elsewhere something fairly ad hoc suited me well. On reflection though the opportunity to work in the design & marketing office attached to the factory has been a fascinating insight into how design progresses from industrial product design through manufacture and eventually marketing and advertising.
I have continued in a role somewhere between intern, freelancer and junior employee. I am now in 2/3 days a week and the 1hr10 commute to the office near Heathrow is a definite noticeable change. Brompton relies on freelance designers for the marketing as there is no in-house graphics team so to speak of. This meant I was undertaking serious (albeit small) commercial tasks working within a reasonably strict set of brand guidelines from the start. At first this was disconcerting but as I grew into the company over time I was more and more entrusted with creative freedoms and diverse tasks to perform - from posters in Dutch spotted around Amsterdam, to merchandise for the factory, to marketing assets for corporate events. The team are young and constructive in their feedback - my work is well received and to see it go out into places like London, Hong Kong, Holland and Germany is hugely gratifying.
In an ideal world I would be afforded the opportunity to see more of the design production process, sit in on brainstorming meetings, liaise with printers and experiment in wider mediums - however I am benefiting from working independently learning how to structure my time, prioritise jobs and even things I had not given much prior consideration to such as how to write and invoice. Though I have no set end date the pay is good enough that it allows me to set aside funds for the next stage of my industry year. I have been accepted into a small startup in Berlin from February and will be working with an in-house design team called RCKT. I am looking forward to a new set of challenges as well as the opportunity to live and work in Europe whilst that is still a option that is open to me.