A CSAD graduate form 2005, Andrew Fice spoke today on how he moved from academia into the world of employment. He currently works at Parker Williams Design, in London.

What I did to gain employment?

 Work experience before graduation in a large company, what is now brand union.

Contact companies for work experience when you leave uni.

A chain of placements, see if places you have worked with can connect you to people they know.

Phone companies and ask for contacts. 

Posing as a paper company gets you contact details.

Chase them up! 150 applications = 15 replies

No one will come and give you a job, you have to go looking for it.

Placements could lead to more, paid experience, and eventually a job.

What happened at interview? How much of the interview was based on portfolio and how much was based on you as a person and how you could work as part of a team?

They are interested in how you work, and whether you can work as part of a team.

Experience isn’t essential, bit it helps you work out what you can/like to do.

What happened on my first day at work?

Nothing. Met the team, looked at the different areas of work, and generally got to know everyone. 

Received company email and got all necessary passwords.

What happens on a daily bases in a commercial studio?

You’re never really working on just one project, there’s always a lot going on. Most days are studio based,   from time to time you get to go on research days and photo shoots.

The reality of producing creative jobs under pressure of time, employment, client expectations, my health & computer software problems?

There are times you will be working late. Sometimes you’ll be in the studio for 36 hours, home for three, and back in the studio for another 24.

Client vary, but they’re always right. At a Jr level, you probably won’t be dealing with clients, it’s more something you do when you’re higher up.

Over working however, is bad for your health. You have to take a break some time.

As for software, it will always crash. When ever you think, “Oh shit, I’ve not saved yet!” It will crash.

Give yourself about 2 hours before a deadline for printing, in case of problems.

What’s the reality of working on more than one project at a time?

Some days you can spend 8 hours just moving type around, some days you’ll work on 3 or 4 projects, and others you’ll be sitting around observing a photo shoot.


Within an idea, you have to be able to accept guidelines for things like own brands. What has to be included on packaging, logo positioning, and colour restrictions.

Charity work is often one of these things that is turned over in a day, but can stretch out to a week if changes need to be made.

Large companies like WKD have strict requirements on their branding, you have to work with this and do your best when mocking up your design.

Focus groups are used to choose the most effective designs.

Research gets you out of the office and gives you a chance to see what consumers think/get from your work.

It helps to be able to produce your own illustrations. Even if you have to commission a professional for the final product, your drawings help the client to visualize the look of the final product.

You normally show about 5 different designs to clients; enough to give them a choice, but little enough so they can’t go crazy.

You will find ‘category craze’ a common thing you have to contend with, e.g. every smoothie brand wants to look like innocent. you have to make the choice whether to stay on trend or go against the curve.

Sketches are an important part of the creative process! The can be sent off to clients in the initial stages to get an idea of the direction they would like to take. It also helps your boss to see what you’re thinking, reducing the hassle of having to explain everything.

It’s always nice to see where your thought process has gone. It’s your way of mapping out your way of thinking.

What would I expect to see form a graduate portfolio?

A good body of work.

What you think are your strongest pieces.

A good presentation. (if your work isn’t quite up to standard, your presentation/personality can hep you)

Having an Identity, something to tie all your work together to say that the work is yours.

What would impress me about a graduate looking for work?

“You’ve got to have balls!”

Find a way for your stuff to stand out, be it phoning up, sending something a little different to the office, or just constantly cold calling a company.

If you’re going to do something quirky, make sure your work backs it up. 

Either send your portfolio in a different way to make you stand out, or simply send it in the post. A PDF is always a good place to start.

How to get noticed? & the value of social media blogging- twitter

It’s worth a try. Send work, ask for follows, etc. It’s worth a try.