Thursday, 21 June 2012

Working 9-5?

"The designer given an internship must use this primarily as a learning opportunity, but also as an unrivalled opportunity to impress," Adrian Shaughnessy, How to be a Graphic Designer.

This is fair enough. An internship in which a designer can showcase their skills by working on a real client brief should be an opportunity seized with every ounce of energy available to them but I can't help but blatantly disagree with the following outlandish statement. "Look for ways to make yourself indispensible...Design is about commitment: if you want to have a nine-to-five existence, get a job in a government tax office." Graphic design studios do offer a 9-5 existence, and the ones that insist on 16 hour days have poor time management and little respect for their staff. Choosing graphic design as a career does not mean I have chosen to design for love over money and it does not mean that I will put my work before my family & friends. Graphic design will not become my life.

Whilst Shaughnessy claims that doing worthwhile placements is likely to get you a job (because that's what they all say) if you become indispensible by being somewhat overly keen to impress and offering to do everything in the studio except offering to spit-shine the creative director's leather brogues. Or perhaps that wouldn't be too far.

Shaughnessy has brought me neatly back to my first ever post as Another Graduate. Tea. I did not and will not ever make tea for colleagues in a studio in which I am working for below minimum wage, in which I am the student. Not that it is beneath me, but I feel that by doing so I will be positioning myself below them; making myself the slave. I would turn an otherwise potentially healthy learning experience into a placement in which I am being taken advantage of; in which I am not getting the best out of the situation.

After all Shaughnessy notes:

"All experience is good experience but nobody should be exploited. Last time I looked, slavery had been abolished in most parts of the world; one or two studio bosses need to be reminded of this."

At the end of the day, this is a career path, and to some small extent, a lifestyle choice but I will not bend over backwards to please studios that shamelessly take advantage of graduate designers desperate for a career break. Sure I'll play the game, but I won't make the tea not for £2.50 an hour.

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