I HATE my design job...

Hi there,

I have a dilemma, im currently 'employed' with a small print house as a junior graphic designer. I have been here 3 months and already want to leave. Basically my boss and his wife run the business. They specialise in large format printing, and occasional car graphics. My boss is 75 years old (!) I work in the basement with him and i have to reproduce exactly what he wants. He cant use the computer so he literally cuts and sticks things down and colours them in, like a bit of GCSE artwork! His designs are AWFUL they're like a 1950s sandwich board. I have tried to put my own creative flair into these designs but he just wont have it. He is one of these people that has to be right, like he is the alpha male if you get the picture. He is very old fashioned and he is a signwriter by trade and he just hasn't moved with the times and hasn't bothered to understand the software.

Anyway, the other bad thing about this job is that i dont have a contract, i get paid cash in hand and i only get £5 an hour! And the other week my boss was ill and he told me not to come in all week, so i missed out on a weeks wages, and i have rent and bills to pay so its really insecure for me! When i first started he said i could have a contract and that i'd get a pay rise, but now he says contracts aren't worth the paper they're written on, and he cant afford to give me a payrise! I obviously don't get taxed or pay national insurance, and im not entitled to holiday/holiday pay. It's just rediculous, im 28 years old and i find this job so demeaning, im a talented and intelligent young lady, and i get treated like im his daughter/a bit of mud!

There is another designer who works upstairs at the front of the shop, he is same age as me but has had much more experience. He doesn't have a contract but he works freelance for them and he has suggested i do the same, but i dont really want to because im not actually learning or gaining anything from this job!

When i graduated from my second degree i worked at costa coffee to bring in some money, i worked there for a year and i left to go to this job but im so unhappy here that i handed my CV back into costa and the manager has asked if im still looking for work and to go in and see him today! So this is my dilemma - do i stay at my (bad) design job because it will look good on my CV (and no one will no how bad it is - unless they ask me), or do I go back to work at costa where i have job security and a regular income? Im going to be doing freelance work in my own time whatever i decide to do, and thats what i did before while i was working at costa and i really enjoyed being freelance!

I would really appreciate some advice, thank you for taking the time to read this

Go bask to Costa then look to find something more suitable or like you say do some freelance work in your spare time as you never know where that may lead, that job you are in now is so dodgy, £5 an hour cash in hand!!! Are you declaring the income and paying tax and N.I? Get out!!
I think you know the answer. £5 an hour with no job security whatsoever when you have bills to pay...

The payment terms you describe are illegal.

My view: work somewhere with a level of stability (certainly far more than you have now) - if it's the coffee shop for a while - so be it.

Build your portfolio (or strengthen, update it) - knock on every door, show the work you have done - seek design work on a consultancy basis - develop relationships.

Get started now.

You're in a bad scenario (as you know) and must not put off action any longer.

Feel free to PM.

Best wishes

Thank you Peter for the sensible reply, yes it is nice when people care on GDF perhaps some people have been through a similar thing when first starting their career and realise exactly how hard it can be.

Thanks again
Agree. Get some regular money coming in and do design work around it.

Put a website together (Wordpress plus a nice theme) and get your work on here and then start knocking on doors.

Sorry for a slow reply, first chance for a break today. I can only reiterate what everyone else here is saying - your "job" as such is based on illegal terms and £5 an hour? You get £6.89/hr stacking shelves in Iceland AND you get holidays etc. Besides, it doesn't sound like you're achieving much in terms of your development / experience if the dinosaur is calling all the "design" shots.

Go back to Costa and do your freelance thang, you don't have to even mention it on your CV when you're looking for design work, describe yourself as freelancing all this time to explain any gaps (it's not entirely untrue anyway).

Good luck :icon_hug:
Some of my family and friends have suggested maybe doing part time at costa and part time here (if they'll let me), for the sake of my CV. What are your thoughts on this?

Many thanks

How much will you earn being full time at Costa? Is it more than £40 a day?
You need to weigh up earning proper money and then working late or at weekends on some better quality design work against earning a pittance and having nothing worthy in your folio.

The term 'freelance' almost implies a random, 'get work where you can' mentality anyway and no-one is going to check to see how much work you've done when you say you've 'freelanced for 18 months'.

Get out of there and then push yourself to find the work you DO want.

As mentioned above, their payment terms are actually illegal and you didn't say whether you are paying tax and N.I on this income which would also be illegal if not, tell the old boy to stick it, minimum wage is £5.93, £6.08 shortly, go elsewhere if the opportunity is there.
ill be earning roughly the same at costa because of tax etc. I definately didnt enjoy working at costa, so i would purely be going back there for job security and regular income
Without a contract then, as mentioned, no need for notice either surely - just quit and get out of there.

The whole scenario sounds awful and I wouldn't even worry about losing out on the opportunity to develop a portfolio whilst you're there from what you say about the work you actually get to do.

From what it sounds like you aren't benefiting from being there so, as others have said, get out and you'll earn more from any other legal job whilst you look for other work.

You can build your portfolio around another job, even if you're just mocking up briefs and so on to demonstrate what you can do.
I think this is a no-brainer. What he (and you, if you're not paying tax) is doing, is illegal. If anything the old man needs to be taught a lesson in how to employ someone. Personally I would also report him for not paying minimum wage and not giving you holiday allowance.

I absolutely would not work there part time, it doesn't sounds like anything you're doing would be worth putting in a portfolio anyway - if it's all his ideas you wouldn't even be able to talk about it enthusiastically in an interview, and it sounds like the actual design is bobbins.

Just do any further potential employees a favour and let him know exactly why you're leaving when you do, maybe he'll treat the next person fairly. And don't take any offers he may come up with, he certainly doesn't sound like the kinda guy who's gunna suddenly change to doing it all the right way.

Be strong! Get out! Build your portfolio up in your own time, with decent briefs and projects in your spare time.
Again I can only reiterate what everyone has been saying. Get out, NOW. You don't have a contract so get paid for this week and go. Go work at Costa for the moment....freelance...get a job that pays legally. You are also missing out on NI payments - which might mean diddlysquat now but when you retire (and judging by your age you will porbably have to retire at 75!!) it can affect your pension!

The guy is doing you no favours...both of you are working illegally. Good luck - something better will turn up!
A couple of things:

1. Doesn't sound like the amount you're earning would attract tax so HMRC wouldn't be interested in you directly but you do need to think about your NI (which you can sort out direct with the Contributions Agency): your employer's obligations are another matter altogether.

2. Even if you don't have a piece of paper designated as such, you DO have a basic, statutory contract of employment with this guy by virtue of the fact that you do work for him on an employed basis and he pays you for it.

3. All the above is by the by as it sounds like you have one of the worst design jobs in Britain (which is some kind of achievement) and it doesn't sound like you're doing yourself any favours by staying in it. If you feel any sense of loyalty or obligation to this guy, ditch it now: he'd let you go at 10 minutes' notice if it suited him.