Saturday, 12 January 2013

Endless Small Talk

Looking back at my placement experience, I have realised one simple thing. The one thing I hated about it is the thing I am most grateful for; endless small talk.

Having several months experience at a placement is fine, especially if they offer you a job. Sometimes it does feel like those that do get the jobs initially are those that stuck around long enough to either prove themselves and/or for a job to become available. Often these jobs are offered as some sort of guilt-relief after months of no pay. (At one agency - mentioning no names....I worked with a girl who after 6 months working as an unpaid runner for the receptionist, was offered a junior designer role for a £12,000 salary). But if an agency aren't paying; you can't really afford to stick around.

My experience however, was varied and exhaustive. I felt like I went everywhere I could go and had enough interview experience to equip me for life. If you remember one of my first posts, "First Days" I talk about the endless chain of placements, interviews, emails, rejection replies and cv sending I endured. I hated meeting new people every 4 weeks at best. I am a fairly quiet person, who it takes a while to get to know - you may say shy, but I'd prefer introverted... I hated interviews with people who hadn't even got any work for me - they'd browse over my portfolio to break up their day. I hated small talk, new passwords, new filing systems, new toilets, new kitchens, new routes to work. I hated the unsettled nature of it and if someone asked me to stay somewhere; I probably would have. I yearned for a longer stay - I yearned to feel settled. But the reality was, this was a rarity. (I like to think this was a legal thing, rather than a 'me' thing - companies have to pay you minimum wage after you "intern" for 4 weeks - but then again many agencies ignore this rule)

I always thought that lots of short placements made my CV look bad - but now I feel I am better for it. I am grateful that, having rarely worked at an agency for more than a 4 week period, I forced myself to meet new people. I have made a few friends along the way too. Endless interviews meant that I became extremely confident in presenting my work and got to know what was expected of me. I have also found that I am happy where I am because it was my favourite placement - and getting to know what you want from your career - eg. what type of design or design agency you want to work for is one of the most important things to get out of a placement  - so having exhausted all the avenues I wanted to, I knew that decision I made in the end was the right one.

Plus, the design industry is a small one - so you will often meet all these people again. They move on and get new roles in other companies, and they could be your key into your next role - so the more people you know, the better. So put up with the small talk..

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