Not in Kansas anymore

Four main differences between being in university, working a part-time job and working in the industry.

Before going to university I had a handful of part-time jobs, predominantly bars, which on my CV I have of course said taught me a whole host of employable skills, but truth be told they mostly just taught me the quickest way to drain water off an inflatable slide and how to pour a pint.  I mean, sure, it taught me how to hold down a job and the value of earning and having my own money, but in terms of transferable skills about how to behave in the professional workplace, I learned next to nothing. In fact, if anything I learned more how not to behave in the workplace, like not dating your bar supervisor or getting too involved in workplace politics.

Similarly, while I believe that being at university helps to develop a range of skills it doesn’t necessarily directly encourage professional development. In my mind, as long as I turned up to every lecture, I worked hard and I handed my assignments in on time I could drink and make a fool of myself as I pleased.

So when I began working in my first industry job I started to see a lot of stark differences between how to conduct myself in a part-time job and at uni compared to at work.

The first being, you cannot turn up either drunk or hungover. 

drunk

So many times I would turn up to work with a hangover, especially at the fun park I worked at when I was 16. It was my first job and a gaggle of us would often stay up late, get drunk, and go in the next morning with only our sunglasses as savior. That would not fly now, nor would it be half as enjoyable. Back then it was funny, getting through a whole day incumbered by a hangover was an act of comradery and was eventually rewarded with a pat on the back from my fellow struggling ride operators, and maybe even a pint at the end of the day.

In the same vein, it wouldn’t have been out of the ordinary to go get a pint – or two – at lunch while I was studying. And going in hungover almost becomes second nature, the freedom to work for yourself and by yourself allows you to go in, get your head down and achieve as much or as little as possible given your varying state, however in the work place you generally have someone to answer to. Even my boss, as chilled as he is, wouldn’t let me get away with slinking off to the back and aimlessly clicking around on CAD until I feel I’ve ‘worked’ enough to take lunch.

You do not talk about how much, or rather how little, money you have.

money2

At university there’s almost what I’d call an overdraft culture of being very open about money, perhaps because it helps to know were all in the same boat, heavy with debt and sinking fast. There isn’t a lot that isn’t open for discussion, lectures, assignments, sex, money, rock and roll… However, this is not the same for the adult world, you’re bank account suddenly becomes shrouded in mystery and to ask how much someone earns has the same brazen sense that comes with asking an older woman her age, it’s something we can guess by appearance but society insists we should never ask directly.

Be careful how much you reveal about your love life

love.jpg

Talking through your love life over a pint at lunch is the norm when you’re at uni but revealing too much about your love life in the office can get you into trouble, and so can blurring the line between the two. To be frank, at uni you can sleep with half the campus if you want to if that’s your prerogative because it’s unlikely to come back and bite you in the arse (not to say it won’t get you a few side eyes) but at work, I would advise keeping your sexual dalliances separate. No one wants to be the topic of office gossip.

Pulling the covers back over your head when the alarm goes off.

sleep

Uni and to an extent part-time jobs are a lot more flexible about your presence. I will never condone just not going to lectures but if you don’t want to go, you really don’t have to. It’s not like school, no one is going to twist your arms to go (but you really should!). And anyone who says they’ve never called in sick to a part-time job because of the above-mentioned hangover or because you just can’t be bothered is a liar, but this is simply not an option with a real deal job. Unless you’re dead or dying, you should really go in.

These are just a few observations I’ve made in the short time I’ve been at Philip Watts Design but there are countless differences between working full time in the industry and studying or working a part-time job while at school or college.

Advertisements

Tate Date

Although my interests have largely shifted from art to design in the last few years I still have a deep appreciation for art, plus I now only live a stone’s throw away from the Tate Modern so it seemed rude not to visit.

As a follow on from my confession that my head has in fact been turned by design (sorry Mrs Gately) I feel I should talk briefly about the building itself. The gallery is housed in a disused power station that, before being transformed into the Tate by architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron of Herzog & de Meuron in 1995, was teetering on the edge of demolition. The building has since undergone many further developments but all the original industrious charm of the station was kept in tact – thankfully.

Naturally one of my great loves still remains to be photography, so a combination of photography and industrial steel work had me leaning over the rope to get a closer look.

IMG_8990IMG_8977IMG_8974IMG_8973IMG_8972IMG_8971IMG_8967

Needless to say, I had a really amazing day walking around the Tate, almost rekindling my love for art. And on a stroke of luck, I had the best company, a fellow art lover, which meant that not only could we look at but also discuss the art together. It’s a very nice feeling when you say ‘I like that.’ and someone asks you ‘Why?’ because they’re genuinely interested in what you like about it.

It’s a very nice feeling when you say ‘I like that.’ and someone asks you ‘Why?’ because they’re genuinely interested in what you like about whatever it is you liked. I liked it. Why? Because then we really talked about art.

On the move

 

The tale of a zealous student’s first interview for an extremely exciting and promising industry job.

At last things have been happening. A month of unfruitful emails and tentative flat searches passed before anything happened. I got one response offering an interview but unfortunately they ‘found our new Studio Assistant’ before I had the chance to get my foot in the door. Until, while I was sat at my desk trawling through Dezeen Jobs one afternoon, I got the email from Philip Watts Design.

‘Thank you for your application for the placement position we have in London. I would love to meet you to discuss your work and get to know you a little more.

Are you available this Friday at all to meet at OXO Tower and we can get a coffee and discuss your work?’

At last.

The next week was spent lovingly touching up my, now shoddy, first year AutoCAD plans for my makeshift portfolio. I say makeshift because I have a designed portfolio, one I painstakingly laid out and made perfect for a hand in. Unfortunately, despite explaining to my lecturer that I had an interview and the submission having already been graded, I was unable to collect my actual portfolio from the studio. So, I made a makeshift portfolio of all of my original A3 layouts, which meant I could rearrange the work to suit what I knew Arun (my interviewer) wanted to see. And include hand drawn work from first year which is much more charming on its original, slightly crinkled layout paper. I’ve only just learned how to hand draw but it already feels like hand drawing is a dying art.

The interview went well. I survived the social shun of admitting that I don’t drink tea or coffee, then plumped with a much more palatable orange and mango juice. In fact, Arun made me feel right at home in what seems like the Philip Watts family. We briefly talked about me, then him and then the job itself. Over our drinks, the hot London sun warming our necks, he told me there’s often dogs in the office, that I get two weeks off at Christmas, and one of their biggest clients is Greggs while I sat and listened in rhapsody, hoping that the black A3 presentation folder wilting between my Nikes and the chair leg was enough.

It turns out it was. In a stroke of luck, I got the email from Philip Watts himself a week later, 10 minutes before my brother and I were due to meet my parents in Victoria for a family pub crawl back to my brothers Brixton flat.

‘You met recently with Arun at our London office and he was very impressed! So it gives me great please to offer you a placement opportunity with our company.’

Since then I’ve been looking at affordable and practical rooms in house shares around London and I think I’ve found a steal, but more on that later…

 

 

What’s the point?

Everyone, student or not, knows how hard finding a graduate job is. Statistics have been cropping up for years in agreement. The Financial Times recently proposed that one-in-three graduates are in low-skilled and non-degree-relevant jobs. I, like most other people, chose to do a degree in order to become more employable so every now and then, for me anyway, doing a degree can feel pointless. When zero out of 30 employers reply to your emails pleading enquiring about placement or work experience. Or when you attend a summer placement fair held by your university which is perfect for students studying engineering or accounting but more or less useless for anyone studying anything else.

When you get to this crying sat in front of your laptop stage it’s important to remember why you chose to do a degree, and there is a multitude of valid reasons.

Future Employment

Eventually, having a degree will mean being able to secure yourself a higher paying job or even any job at all. Most employers now require some kind of higher education in order to even get your foot in the door.

Being Educated

This is a competitive world and any upper hand I can have, I will. Having a degree in a chosen field allows me to call myself educated, and prove it.

Degree level education is a lot more in-depth than any other qualification. During your time at uni you’ll learn things that you never thought you would, or perhaps that you never thought you would need. Also, as it covers such a wide knowledge base you’ll probably find yourself unearthing interests you never knew you had. Plus, there’s no better feeling than being education on something you feel passionately about.

CV Filler

Sometimes just making the font size bigger isn’t the answer. Increasingly often people now reach the ripe old age of 20/21, or in other words, graduate before they have any real work experience. A degree is definitely an accolade to put on your CV.

A degree also speaks to your character. They are hard work. They take dedication, perseverance, and intelligence. These aren’t skills everyone possesses, university and the idea of a career isn’t for everyone, and having a degree proves to employers that it is for you and that you’ll work for it.

Life Experience

Love it or hate it, university is often people’s first taste of independent living. All universities have some kind of support in place for people struggling, but even if you’re not, university (especially your time in halls) is a bridge between college and the real world. Trust me, the magical oven cleaning fairy won’t come weekly forever.

Contacts 

The saying ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ became a cliche for a very good reason, it’s mostly true. Being at uni allows you to meet people in your industry. Lecturers are always good people to have on side, they can be a reference or even a friend later in your career. Guest lectures are also likely to be part of your course, these are hosted by people or companies who are established within your industry and are definitely worth knowing.

Not only does your time at university allow you to make connections with your superiors, but also your peers. Collaboration is an extremely important aspect of a wide range of industries, specifically the design industry.

Ultimately the goal of univerisity is to leave it feeling and being employable, so make sure you chose a field you want to explore during your career and chose a uni that ranks high within this subject.

And finally, get yourself out there when you can, because finding a job is as hard as everyone says it is.

TITle

So I’ve been thinking a lot about my image lately, the need to be, or at least appear professional. The idea of creating a brand, or maybe even being my own brand. Especially as I’m currently looking for placement, emailing a lot of companies my portfolio and CV, along with accompanying social medial accounts which needs to adhere to level of maturity. This unfortunately means censoring myself and some of my old and more controversial work, such as my Free The Nipple project.

I worked on this project during my final year of college and am very proud of the outcome, as well as the project itself. During this time I explored a lot of avenues within the idea of feminism. The project asked questions regarding the censorship of women and tentatively pushed the boundaries of what I discovered is ‘appropriate’. I took great pleasure in asking the sniggering kids in my school exactly why they found my braless breasts so funny, while pointing out I could see all of the boys nipples who were giggling at mine. I tried to challenge the stigma of misplaced embarrassment that surrounds harmlessly revealing the female form. Ultimately, despite mine and many other feminists best efforts, I still believe that women are unfairly sexualised in all forms; the media, social stereotypes, porn, adverts, music videos, sport.

While I resent the fact I cannot parade this project I also respect that it is sensitive and controversial. I am putting this project out there for whoever it may interest, because the idea of censoring it goes against the exact reason I made it. This project was made to challenge, to ask why we women must be so modest with our bodies.

Damn being a grown up…

Screen Shot 2017-03-11 at 15.11.25

Screen Shot 2017-03-11 at 15.12.05

Below is the link to my Free The Nipple project, please be warned that there are many images of naked women and probably some misspelled words. Peruse at your leisure.

free-the-nipple-project

Autokind V’s Mankind

Although it’s arguable that presentation skills are more important and useful in the design industry than written communication, it is still important to be able to demonstrate ideas cohesively through written work. For this reason one of my modules, Context and Critical Studies, is assessed on an essay that is written and critiqued during the semester. Above are the covers of the books I used to research my last essay. My question, ‘What are the similarities and differences in the ways in which official authorities have employed design and architecture as part of larger social and political agendas?’ lead me down the path of post war rehabilitation of England. An extremely interesting subject to read up on and a very enjoyable essay to write.

Luckily, I enjoy writing essays. English is something I have always been passionate about, keeping it close to me all the way through school and college. This year I’m using my 2500 words to discuss something I wouldn’t usually chose to research, the evolution of the automobile and the effect it has had on architecture and town planning. I am a self confessed pen and paper girl so learning about the automobiles technology and its rapid advances is extremely enjoyable. Especially as cars are an entity I have a strange relationship with, respected form a far for their undeniable capabilities but also fervently disdained for the countless negative impacts they have had and will continue to have on our planet. This was mostly spurred on by a crash I was in a few years back, it was around the time all of my fiends were learning how to drive but since then any urge to drive was literally knocked straight out of me. This love loss has allowed me to view the damage that automobiles inflict on our planet without smog rose tinted glasses. I think researching and writing this essay is and will continue to enable my cynicism about the modern world. And the wise words of Kenneth R. Schneider are only consolidating my beliefs that ‘settlement through history has been the simultaneous result of both creative and destructive forces’.

I’ll leave you to ponder this quote:

‘If transportation in the city is smilier to the blood vessels in the body, the automobile explosion occurring throughout many parts of the world today is now creating the same problems for the health of the city as blood clots create for the body’

Leave a comment and let me know what you think about the automobile, join the discussion