AB Thinks  →  17th January 2022

Student to studio – words on entering an agency

Finishing university is daunting, before you know it you find yourself pushed out into the real world. While making use of the last of your student loan you are desperately trying to find an employer, become a “LinkedIn pro” and find a new place to live. To use a cliché, it pushed me out of my comfort zone. The change felt unnatural but moving to and accepting a job in London is the best decision I have made to date.

The pandemic has brought lots of bad, but also some good. The progression of technology forced us to accelerate and from my job-seeking experience, the results show it’s more efficient, and practical to communicate digitally than ever. I interviewed and onboarded virtually before ever meeting the agency team in person – five years ago that would never have happened.

Now I’ve been here a few months I have pulled together my initial observations on agency life. Hopefully, it is useful for those of you thinking about embracing it or a reminder for the more seasoned agency vets of what it’s like stepping into it for the first time.

#1 Hierarchy and experience
It has been interesting to note how different the corporate industry is to university. AB’s fast-paced and efficient agency work ethos was completely new to me, but it enabled me to learn some invaluable skills that are only going to help me progress within the design world.

You are no longer surrounded by a demographic of people all the same age and with the same level of experience. Within the company’s hierarchy, it brings many role models, leaders, and people for me to learn different skills from.

Hierarchy forms a team and a well-structured team at that. It enables collaboration on projects to become seamless. Working with new people and collaborating is one aspect of the design firm’s environment that I have fallen in love with since it challenges you to look at things differently and almost always results in stronger concepts.

#2 Freedom and opportunity
The industry offers freedom and opportunity in different ways. Unlike university, you don’t get to create your design briefs or spend the day wandering the streets looking for inspiration. Instead, you are rewarded with the ability to create designs for huge companies and have the guidance to experiment with new technologies previously not at your disposal.

Our wide range of clients also means a wide range of briefs. I had no idea how many different avenues of Graphic Design my role would allow me to see, yet over the last three months I’ve found that every day is different; from an editorial designer, animator, website designer, it really is a multifaceted career that allows you to keep exploring your craft at this early stage.

#3 Client amends and responsibility
During university, there were no clients! We curated work for ourselves, our grades, and our degrees. Despite creative work being about the process and experimenting, I’ve learnt that the client does not necessarily know or plan for this flow of things and is usually more worried about the deadline.

With industry-level design, comes a step up in quality. When first starting at AB, I was shocked by the number of client amendments and checks to catch small brand details. It felt disheartening at first yet was reassured that this is the reality of the industry and that it’s nothing to take personally. Learning to deal with this took time, and although It’s an artist’s natural inclination to defend his or her work, I had to remind myself that I was now creating a product for a customer.

#4 The new (home) office
I think by now, we’ve all cracked working from home. At first, it wasn’t easy adapting to such a secluded and sometimes lonely way of life. Yet joining AB virtually was made the best it could be, I had one to ones with every member of the team, meetings were made longer so we were able to get to know each other, and outside of work socials were organised to help me feel more involved.

Working from home means I no longer have an hour commute every day – or the opportunity to spend money on overpriced gourmet sandwiches in the centre of London. It’s convenient to finish work and be in the comfort of your own home. I think working from home successfully is about implementing a balance in your life. Since your work and leisure spaces have now merged, it’s important to create boundaries helping you to switch off.

With the prospects of our new office space opening imminently, it will be refreshing and exciting to have the choice of where we work. I think it’ll not only benefit our personal lives but also our creative output and working dynamic as an agency. I cannot wait to work within our new creative space, around others with similar interests to me.

#5 The fear of change
Change isn’t natural to us, as humans we can quickly become complacent in life. Over the last two years, our world has been different, to say the least, but AB’s ability to adapt to change has been promising and demonstrated to me that they are a forward-thinking agency that works with the future in mind.

I think that’s the most important thing to take away from all of this. Playing it safe is dangerous. Change, although it’s uncomfortable and can feel different to what we know, also leads to new things and ultimately growth. It makes life exciting and improves the way we learn. It makes us better.

The AB team look forward to working with more IC leaders and their teams in 2022. If you’re interested in finding out how we can bring creativity to your everyday communications, get in touch.