Advice – stuck in a rut I think!


New Member
Hey everyone, I just put a newbie post up and joined the forum a wee while ago looking to get some advice from some experienced individuals, so please be kind as its probably not the best 2nd post in the world!!

I graduated almost a year ago from my degree in visual communication and was employed immediately as a graphic designer - before I'd even actually finished the course. I got very lucky indeed given the current climate and competition for jobs within the industry. However I am a very determined person and have never been unfortunate enough to not get a job after interview....and I made sure I worked hard throughout my course to build a decent portfolio.

However, 9months down the line, the job I am in now is very dull, unexciting and generally driving me to really dislike being a designer! I have kind of felt this way about the place after a month or so of being here...I don't want to reveal too much just incase the director is on here...but I doubt it as everything is so bish, bash bosh without any research within or outwith the studio - if it can be called that!. Getting out of the studio every now and again to liase with clients and do some research would probably ease things a little...but this never happens. There are only 3 of us in here too, so no room for growing within the company and learning from anyone else is almost impossible and I have found myself showing them how to do things/doing things they never knew could be done etc. Don't get me wrong I have learnt from them a little too in my first 2 months about print processes and file handling.

Everyday I search for new jobs, freelance work to try and keep me loving it like I used to, and I have applied for a few jobs recently which I am hoping to hear back from. I have also been asked to a couple of interviews but been unable to attend due to not being able to get time off from my current job.....which also makes things difficult! More recently I have been thinking that I really don't want to be sat infront of a computer my whole life either, I'd like to be out doing something! I have thought about photography as I do a lot in my spare time......

...I could honestly go on more but I don't want to give away the game too much. I guess what I'm looking for is someone to tell me their experiences when they first started out, what I could do next, should I be thinking about going back and getting an additional qualification to let me branch out into something else! Ideally I'd definitely not still like to be in this job within the next 6 months.....I feel like I am going backwards instead of forwards.

Hope this isn't too much to lay onto people :icon_blushing: and thanks in advance for any help you could throw my way! :icon_smile:
Hi Stripey,

Sorry to hear that things haven't worked out as you might have imagined.

I've worked in design since 1998 and have had a few full-time jobs as well as loads of various freelance positions since giving up my full-time position in 2004. Throughout that time period, I've experienced some great and not so great jobs so I can completely understand where you're coming from.

My advice to you is to continue to apply for as many jobs as possible - if you're called back for an interview, then definitely go along and just call into work sick.

However, while you should keep applying for a new job, try and gauge from the job description and company website what the company could be like to work for.

There are going to be jobs where the workforce is quite young and lively (and therefore you'll have a great social life), however, you might not end up learning that much. There are also going to be occasions where you'll be thrown into the deep end and you'll never even have time for a lunch break and will end up completely overworked.

If you manage to get an interview, try and find out how much client contact you'll get, do the staff go for drinks after work, how many other designers working at the company etc. If you have the chance, ask can you see the design studio - you'll instantly tell whether you'll be able to fit in.

I've freelanced at companies where nobody speaks all day and everyone listens to music on their headphones. I've also worked at agencies where you feel like you're working in a sweatshop churning out the work.

However, as scary as it sounds, in time, you'll find the right position for you and you'll start to love your job again. I think the key thing is to get out of your present role as quickly as you can before you become jaded and you lose enthusiasm for design.

I don't think you need to consider getting any further qualifications - you could still up in a dull job even if you studied for your Masters.

If you don't get the chance to work on anything exciting during the day, set yourself projects when you get home so at least you can put some new work in your folio.

Good luck and hopefully you get yourself sorted.


Good advice from Scott above - apart from calling in on a sickie - which is cheating! I know everyone does it once in a while - but don't be tempted to overdo it. Bosses do notice if you call in sick too often. You can take time off for holidays!

Have you asked aout visiting/meeting clients? It can help the design process enormously if you can. Talk to your boss - he may be willing to give you more responsibility if you ask. If not - pursue those new jobs!
Thanks for the replies folks

Scott - great advice, and I agree I need to be out of there asap as this is exactly what I'm worried about - losing all enthusiasm and love for my job I studied years for. I understand that a design course only sets you up for the industry and I go from being a graduate on top to going back to the bottom of the ladder again so to speak...but I really didn't want to be so far away, or feel like I'm so far away from that ladder!! I'd love to be able to move down to London, where I know its more competitive but the experience would be amazing....but not being on the best of wages and having to live means not much room for saving to be able to take such a risk! this is another determining factor for new jobs - i cant afford to take a pay cut as not living in the centre of town, money for fuel or for train fares is pretty extravagent so I have to only apply for ones where I know I can survive from the salary.

Katie - thanks also for your input. The sickie thing really isnt me, ive always been one to feel guilty even when i am ill and call in sick! Runs in the family....!

The client thing is difficult as the boss likes to tell all clients she designed everything, its never someone else, its always her design/idea. which is another thing thats hard to swallow. So I think this is another issue that shes always been the star of the show so to speak and it may be stealing the limelight if given a free rein....or she thinks we'd do it wrong.
Potentially great news for me today :)

just received an email to ask me in for an interview for a job I applied for on Hogmanay.

the job description was
"We are an Edinburgh HQ-ed business group of online companies seeking a full time in-house graphic designer.

You would be responsible for the visual appearance of our web pages, the design of our logo's and promotional material both online and offline (banners for trade shows etc).
No prior online technical experience is required and the role would be better suited to a recent graduate in Graphic Design, Art etc who is highly proficient with Photoshop, Gimp or similar.

You will work closely with a small team of software engineers and online marketing experts to deliver exceptional online user experiences and ROI."

This is the one I was hoping to hear back from, I just hope the salary is up to it!!
Great news!

Even if the salary isn't quite what you hoped for, sometimes you have to weigh up if this position is worth taking for the amount you'll learn and experience you'll gain.

Good luck :)
Thanks sthomas! I need to be able to live and travel to work however as I live out of town! So I cant take much of a salary drop which is a bummer.
I ended up in the same position (im still in it) but the best advice I've been given was from a creative director during an interview last summer:

"If youve got the passion and its creativity you're missing in the 9-5, go out and find it in the other 16 hours!"
Dave, I do as much freelance as I can get outside of work, which is great - I have only ever created a couple of my own projects though outside of my degree! i guess i've just had a manic year.

Another update anyway - interview at 3pm on friday- keep fingers crossed for me please :)