Junior Design advice, Pain au chocolat and the splits!

I wanted to continue the theme from my previous blog as it seems that the industry may or may not be doing enough to give junior designers a chance. Of course, there are understandable reasons such as companies needing experienced professionals due to their requirements. But how do we actually break the mould to get the next generation of designers through the door?

I sat down with industry expert, Nelson Pimenta over a few flat whites and probably one of the best pain au chocolat’s I’ve had in a while, to discuss his thoughts and advice on what junior designers can do to gain more experience and exposure.

Nelson has worked and hired for the likes of BBC, HSBC, American Express, Lloyds Bank and most recently J.P Morgan so it was valuable to hear what he had to say, especially from a hiring manager’s perspective. More importantly, apart from his vast experience, I also learnt Nelson can do the splits which happens to be one of his favourite party tricks! I wonder what the others are?!

Nelson’s 6 tips for Junior Designers

1. Like other jobs outside design, experience is just as important. Volunteer, work part-time and get internships because these are all experiences that will provide you with the hands-on skills you need in a real workplace.

2. Always be willing learn, no one wants to hire someone who thinks she/he knows everything. In an interview, mention the places you visit the most for inspiration and knowledge, the events you attend, the material you read in your spare time and why you actually love design.

3. Learn how to put yourself in the mind of a user. Not sure how to do that? Find someone who never used a smartphone and ask them to e.g. send a WhatsApp message.

4. Portfolios are stories of your “design life”. Don’t make it all fictional, design a real life solution even if this means someone who needs a logo, for free if needed. Having real world examples goes a long way as opposed to conceptual designs.

5. If you are still struggling for portfolio examples, find a hard technology or topic that can be visualised. Create an infographic exampling how Facebook bots work and present it to your parents. If they get it, you’re hired!

6. Design for areas you are passionate about, the first project will drive the next one and the next. If you like music, film, cars etc., design for those. You will find the momentum will carry on and you can express your personality through your design work too.

I hope the advice has been as insightful to you as it was for me. If you are looking for any help, advice or more details on any of the above then please drop me a line on sm@redcat-digital.com or 02072657800.

Sameer Murtaza