Tips for design graduates
17 MAY 2017

Published by Samantha Jamieson


Tips for design graduates

Adam Ellis has worked at some branding bangers like Ziggurat, Coley Porter Bell and Elmwood. Now Creative Director at The Cabinet, we asked him for some tips to help you graduates get your first job.

What’s your advice to a design graduate trying to get their first design role?

I have two pieces of advice based on observations I've made interviewing grads over the years.

Firstly take a step back from your portfolio when its finished and re-evaluate how it flows as a complete body of work, almost consider it as your final project, an ultimate design book.

Its a real shame when projects are visually presented badly, as an example projects spilling over 3 pages meaning your staring at the next project before you’ve finished the last one. Also projects mounted sometimes landscape, sometimes portrait becomes annoying when the portfolio has to be spun around from project to project.

Try to keep an elegant theme to your portfolio and imagine how it would come across if someone was presenting your work to you.

'Be bloody waggy-tailed and enthusiastic...'

Secondly, always, always, always do a little research on the agency, person your meeting, it only takes three minutes sat on a bus to google an agencies website, then you'll be loaded with questions and observations about that agency to help break the ice or get a sense of their work and culture. It always comes across badly if you've got no idea about the agency. 

Being strategic is a massive part of the design industry, so be strategic from day one, it doesn’t go unnoticed. Ohhh and be bloody waggy tailed and enthusiastic...

How did you get your first design role?

I got my first design role by answering to a post it note put up in our Uni’s corridor, an agency called Ziggurat was looking for 2 grads, for the first time in years. So they rang round design courses they respected and spoke to secretaries to get the message out.

Surprisingly not many people replied because it was one week before D&AD New Blood so stress levels were high. Myself and best friend Simon Pendry (now Creative Director of PI International) thought sod it, no pain, no gain and we hot footed it down to London. We interviewed, raided PaperChase and both got the job. It was amazing being in London a week later at D&AD already with jobs to go to.


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