A step into the countryside

I need to apologise for how long it’s taken me to get back to my blog, but I can tell you that I’ve had a bit of a roller coaster of a time since I finished Uni. I thought I’d share with you what I’m up to now and then I’ve got a line of little things to share with you all!

Four months ago, I walked across a stage, shook hands with my head of school as I was awarded my diploma in Product Design BSc and gracefully stumbled down the steps in my heels. It feels like a lifetime ago that I was cheering with my fellow University of Sussex graduates as we snapped picture after picture in our graduation robes.
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Holidays, celebration, then the realisation that I was officially unemployed. No more student discounts and no more student loans. After a frenzied few months of job applications, I landed a job that was to start in October. I had 10 days to find a house, car and move. 11 days until my first day! A mad rush would be an understatement, but I was so excited/nervous (not sure which one) that I didn’t care.

I am now part of a scheme that encourages recent graduates to find jobs in the South West of England. Yep, that’s right, I currently live in the “countryside”, also known as Dorset. A complete contrast to my life in Brighton and Rome, but the perfect setting for what I do.

I am a designer in a company that produces international educational material primarily in print, but I was employed to help explore and develop the company into the digital world designing much more than just ebooks. A new and exciting area in education that is really starting to shake up schools and take us a step further into the future.

Education doesn’t just mean children. We cover everything from teeny tiny toddlers to adults learning English. Our client base includes Pearsons, University of Oxford Press and University of Cambridge Press and our books are used across the globe! That is when the design part get’s really interesting. For example, laying out and designing graphics for a book in England is very different to designing one for Saudi Arabia… Food for thought hey? Books, video, website design, ebooks and now interactive digital design is what we do.

I’ve been working for just over a month now and I have to admit that having a real design job is quite a challenge. As we are a studio of 6, I was launched into live projects almost immediately, picking up new software as I went along and encouraged to ask questions when I was stuck. I’ve had to learn quickly, but the support I got from my colleagues has been immense both in and outside the studio. I am currently learning and doing print layout, text corrections and art editing as well as being put out on the front line of communication by starting and controlling our company’s Twitter account. My input in other bits and pieces of my company include our new website and continuing our rebranding throughout all elements of the company (e.g. email signatures etc). The near future contains meeting clients face-to-face which both terrifies me and thrills me that I’ll be communicating with them so early on in my career.

Remember how I said that I’m living in Dorset? Let me paint the scene for you. My daily drive into work will only be delayed if I come across a tractor or farm animals in the road which, so far, has only happened once. The studio is in a converted barn that we refer to as ‘The Barn’ and is our HQ. There are 6 of us working there, all from various design backgrounds, well, 7 if you count Henry, the studio dog! As the village we work in contains houses and a pub, we can’t nip out for a bite during our lunch break, but instead we have a rota. Every week, one of us cooks for everyone else from Monday to Wednesday in our studio kitchen ensuring that we:
a) All have a proper lunch (depending on who is cooking of course!)
b) Take a good break from our screens (it is company sacrilege to eat at your desk)
c) Get a chance to catch up and chat to each other about everything NON work related.
Subsequently, a quick tidy up ensues and we head out to walk dear Henry up the hill, passed the cows and into a field for some fresh air! Then back to work. Don’t worry, we don’t starve on Thursdays and Fridays. That’s packed lunch days! My Creative Director and Managing Director both live and work in Cornwall so Monday Morning Meetings are essential to our week. Imagine 6 of us all gathered around a phone on loud speaker having a meeting. Quite amusing, but I assure you we work like clockwork because of it.

I’ve been so lucky to get a job so quickly! I never really wanted to work in the “big smoke” (i.e. London) and was looking forward to an adventure somewhere I’d never been before. Working in a small company is amazing because you get to dip in and out of everyone’s projects as well as being trusted to take on tasks that you never thought you’d do so soon! To be honest, I’m feeling quite good about everything. It is only natural you have a few stumbles, but who doesn’t when they move somewhere completely new? ‘The Barn’ has made me feel welcome and I always wonder what my boss has in store for me when I walk through that door!

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