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Employment / careers

Hey guys and gals,

just wondering from your past experiences how much qualifications matter as opposed to good portfolio and work experience? :confused:

Only I have just finished my National Diploma in Graphic Design and Illustration from Northbrook College Sussex and been awarded triple distinction. I have looked at some of the HNC courses but they are not as advanced as I was expecting and I think I can already do their level of work and I would just much rather head out to work to learn the real stuff like the business side of things, working with print production (we don't learn anything about print on courses!) and live briefs/clients etc. I want to earn money and I learn much faster on the job than in a classroom situation.

Uni is out of the question atm because I already have a student loan from my pervious uni course in languages and I can't afford to fund it myself. I keep seeing jobs advertised with "this candidate will have a degree in ...blah blah blah" and I'm worried I won't even get through the first step let alone to interview. I've applied to several places in the Brighton area but heard nothing back so far.

Your advice and experiences will be sooooo helpful so please share! Fankoo peeps! :up:


Senior Member
The main factor is experience, the difficult part is finding the work to get that experience, whether having more education is beneficial will always be subject to debate.

I feel that if you have the formal education and then get the experience you have the best of both worlds.

In your case I'd just attempt to apply to more jobs, if you have the time maybe offer free work for 6 weeks or so (1-2 days a week for 6 weeks, shows dedication and can learn alot, aswell as maybe getting offered a job from whoever you work for at the end, at worst a good reference for future work)
I know this might not be particularly helpful, but if you find you do want/need to continue with education. There maybe be an option to Fast-Track the HNC from your ND.

The place I did my HNC had this option so it might be worth discussing, as it would be half the price/time. It does kind of depend on the units they choose to do, the HNC is easy to pass (and even to get distinctions imo and you may well be able to use some of your ND work to this end as well.

It could be an option, along side some free work as Renniks mentioned, or some part-time work (I did my HNC in the evenings 1 day a week along side a print related job during the day). You may find looking a bit outside the box useful as well. Not necessarily just 'design jobs', but print shops, photocopying shops, local publications/newspapers display advertising. They're not ideal, but they're a step in the right direction

Good luck!


Junior Member
I have a BTEC National Diploma in Graphic Design, and a degree in an unrelated subject. All I can say is be persistant, keep working on your portfolio, and don't be shy - be cheeky when it comes to asking people to give you a chance to do some work experience/paid internship and that sort of thing!
Hi There: I've owned two successful graphic design shops over the past 28 years and when it came time to hire someone I found the education and experience helped get the foot in the door, however... I made my decisions based on their portfolio as well as their personality. I don't care how good someone is, if I can't work with them... then there's no point.

So, nowadays I am finding employers are interested in not just what's on your resume (or CV) but how you conduct yourself in the meeting as well as your portfolio. Do your best to get your foot in the door (bug them until they give you an interview) and then sell them on who you are and what you can do.

When my decision was made, it still came down to 'the proof is in the pudding' routine. No matter what an employee says they can do... give them the task and see if they perform. I remember hiring someone with over 30 years experience but when I put him to task, he was slow and lacked originality... I ended up hiring someone I could apprentice instead.

Best of luck...
thank you so much thats really helpful. :up:
oh Becky I have been offered a fast track to second yr on the HNC at Northbrook but I don't think from what I have seen and heard that I am going to learn anything new or progress much there. There's a lot of staffing/student issues and cutbacks etc.:( I could look at other colleges/universities but I think I'll try the intern route and print shops etc. for work experience and just work on bringing up my portfolio.I have quite a few dummy briefs which I think I'll do over the summer as practice. I'm aiming to get my work on a website this summer too so that should help a bit as employers can see my website beforehand. Thanks guys, I feel much more confident and excited now and I won't give up until I get that job! ;) Watch this space lol!