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Graduating this year, what were your experiences working in graphic design after uni?


New Member
Hi there I'm graduating this july, and after that I'm on my own looking for work.

I wondered if you could tell me your experiences after uni? your first job? what to expect when you walk into a design studio etc?

I'm absolutely daunted by it all. I've never been in a design studio and have no idea what to expect.

What kind of work were you asked to do in your first job? How long until you moved up to doing more advanced work?

What are graphic design studios like?

Was there a varied age range of people working in your job?

How many days a week did you work?

Were you given a tour of the place the first day or during the interview?



New Member
Yes but I have no experience of working as a designer professionally or what to expect going into studios and companies.
I really think this is a shocking indictment of the University system for students to leave with no practical advice on what to expect in the workplace, or not having done a placement as part of the course.

Your likely to have to look into work placements in the first instance, as it's rare for graduates to find a job straight off the mark. So while your still at Uni I'd badger your tutors to see if they can open any doors/ help organise an initial placement.

Most of your questions completely vary depending on the company. Some are big some are 2 people, some will get you making the tea and image searching others will drop you in at the deep end. The best way to find out is for yourself, but make sure you get whatever help your Uni can offer while your still there.


Active Member
This is shocking, I personally would be rocking the boat like mad, how on earth can you be expected and or be qualified on a personal level to work in a design studio without any practical real world experience, defies belief.

On the same note, its your responsibility to give yourself the best possible chance of employment, have you been trying to find a work placement or do commercial work outside of your studies?

From my experience, (others may and will disgree) but qualifiaction counts for very little in the modern world of design, with architecture being the exception. employment is down to talent and real world work experience.

I would protest to your lecturers, they are selling you short.
You should make a point of contacting every design agency near to where you live see if you could come in for a chat and get some feedback on your folio. At least then you'll be able to see for yourself how a design studio operates.

While I agree that your tutors should be doing a lot more, it's down to you at the end of the day.

You've got 3 or 4 months before you graduate and then you'll leave the cocoon of Uni to face the prospect of looking for a job and competing against hundreds of other design graduates.

If you're serious about wanting to work in the design industry then you need to start doing something about it.
Designmatic said:
You should make a point of contacting every design agency near to where you live see if you could come in for a chat and get some feedback on your folio. At least then you'll be able to see for yourself how a design studio operates.

Nice idea. But seriously how many positive responses do you expect?

I for one, wouldn't have the time to see every Tom, Dick and Harry with their portfolios that gets in touch. Nor would i really want to, our clients wouldn't be too happy paying for our time to see students.

You want to see how a studio works?

Either offer your services for free - making tea, hoovering, errands boy/girl.

or Peer through their windows for 10 hours a day.
It is true that the hit rate from cold calling/ emailing is going to be very low, but as long as you have a decent web presence in place it's worth doing. Having a one to one with your tutors may open some doors depending on how well connected they are, though by the lack of general guidance given I don't know how likely this is. Basically you'll loose nothing by doing both, also look into your local government apprenticeship schemes, you may find some openings there (though they will be hard fought).
I agree that probably 95% of agencies won't have the time to look at his work but there will be some that will invite him in (even if it's for 10 mins to quickly look at his work)

When I left Uni, I managed to get meetings with 7 or 8 of the top agencies in London as well as work experience with HHCL (who were famous at the time for the Tango adverts).

None of this was because the tutors helped me...I wrote to lots of agencies, sending examples of my work and followed up with calls to say that I was going to be in London on a particular day and could they spare some time to look at my folio?

While things have moved on a lot since then, putting in effort and showing commitment will always pay off.
The first post sounds like a questionnaire?

It's very hard and very competitive tbh.

You'll need a high level of program knowledge and a strong portfolio to stand a chance.

Luck can also play it's part, it's who you know.


Senior Member
Wow, a three to six month internship is one of the essential parts of my course (and similar courses in the country). If your "intern-employer" gives you a bad evaluation, chances are you don't graduate. Some students go on to work for the same company where they did their internship.
Sounds like a good system to me the UK should take that up. I thought most UK courses did integrated placements, back when I was at uni the 3rd term of the second year was for placements so you had a minimum of 3 months (optional of 6 with the summer break). Seems another argument for Universities specialising to me, far too many just don't have the structure in place to give graduates the best shot of getting work at the end of it.
mflo, It took me a year and a half to get my 1st graphic design job in 1991. I haven't looked back since then.

I would say persistence is the key. Stick at it. Looking that is ;-)

I would do the cold calling asking for feedback on your folio regardless of the success rate. You never know you luck. That is how I got my first job.

I would also be lining up an internship if you can over the 'holidays' for at least a month. Find out who are the best companies in your area you would like to intern for and start there.

Bottom line is that it all comes down to the quality of your portfolio and constantly putting yourself out there.

I would also be looking for freelance work now. Start cultivating every contact you have for business. There are lots of resources online to help you.