The power of recognition
Yoann Hui - Design Management and Culture
Today is the seventh month, the 31st week of our DPS year. I think a lot of us may start reviewing our journey (What we have experienced, changed and gain.) Especially when the submission date is getting closer and closer. Looking backwards at the first beginning, most of us were nervous but excited for getting into the real working world. We were seeking any tips and recommendations to help us to get the first job. Some of us got a smoother start, and some of us were struggling for a while. For me, I won't say my start was smooth, but I would say I was quite lucky enough.
So what helped us get those offers? Is it luck? Or networks, skills, qualifications, personality or attitude? I still remember that when I received the offer from my current company. Firstly, I was grateful and surprised as it just arrived on time and released the pressure from me of facing visa cancellation (a stressful limitation for international student). My original offer was a three months long internship as a design intern working for a marketing and branding consultancy company. And my primary role is to help and enhance their works with visual impacts. Also, I am the only designer at the company, and everybody else is a consultant with different backgrounds like a business, economics, psychology, etc. I was excited and felt there a massive opportunity for me. But also sometimes, I would question myself and question why they chose me and what they want from me? As I realised, most of the works are related to graphic design, and I'm not a graphic design student but the main reason I accepted the offer because the company is a consumer research company with the human-first approach. And my primary intension in the DPS year is want to be a researcher and strategist. Also, I found it hard to work as a solo designer when there is no one else you can reference. I started losing self-confidence when it comes to meeting their expectations of works and balance my style.
What does our employer want from us?
After the new year holiday, my last month internship at this company. I got a regular catch up meeting with my director, same as before checking and making sure I was doing good. But this time, he also asked about my plan. In term of do I enjoying working here and willing to stay longer. For me, yes, because I was working in a client project at that moment. I enjoyed it and learning so much, and I would like to continue at least until the project is finished. So I said yes because I felt there is so much more for me to learn and try. Also, I eager to know all the feedbacks from everyone who I have worked with during the first three months.
During the time for my first three-month internship was the busiest and peak time for the company since it operated. Everyone was super busy, and company working model is super agile, I got a chance able to work with almost everyone in the company. But also, I was worrying because it was too busy that they couldn't recognise my contributions. But finally, I got an extension offer to continue working with them and the feedback about my first three months performance. Surprisedly, all the strengths of me that my colleagues appreciated are mostly interpersonal skills. According to an online article "What graduate employers really want "on a job website - REED.co.uk. It listed out four critical points that graduate employers are seeking in their ideal hire:
What do we want from our employer?
So of course employment is a two-way transaction, when we talk about what employer wants from us, then we also have something that we want from our employer. It is not just a salary.
I remembered that two weeks after my staring day, I had a meeting with my mentor team (formed by a director and an associate director). Every employee has a fixed mentor team to support their developments, achievements or anything related to work to not. The main goal of this is to build up a strong connection with employee and supporting as much as they can. As I mentioned above, at the first beginning, I was not fully enjoying my work, questioning and losing self-confidence at work. So during the meeting with them, I told them I would like to get involved in client projects and learning more about strategy works and not just design works. A week after I have assigned to work on a client project which is a global repositioning project across six different markets. Because of this, I was impressed and felt them do take action of what I would like to learn rather than just listening.
End of the year, the festival period is here. Because we were busy, our company ordered food from the restaurant and got delivered to the office for our Christmas lunch. It was not a fancy lunch, but everyone was so happy and enjoyed, it felt more like a family Christmas meal than a company one. After all, I found myself on the company pictures board. It's such a little thing, but it made me feel part of them and not just an intern.
In March 2020, I got invited to join our company trip to San Sebastian for celebrating the company success in 2019. During the journey, everyone has received a red card holder filled full with all the greatness of them that have recognised from other colleagues. And this is the most touching and most significant time that I have experienced in the company. It made me feel I have been appreciated and have much confidence and proud of what I'm doing.
After all the experiences I have, I realised working with the projects or works you passionate about is essential for us to keep moving forward. But the key to keeping us working for the company is the recognition of you. Not just by saying but also how they take actions to engage and treat their employees.
Rolfe, A. (no date) What graduate employers really want. Available at: https://www.reed.co.uk/career-advice/what-graduate-employers-really-want/ (Accessed: 14 April 2020).
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