I can’t quite believe that I moved to Lincoln to start my degree just over 6 years ago now, and that I’ve had a full time job in London for over three! I studied Contemporary Lens Media, now BA (Hons) Photography, at Lincoln, and can honestly say I wouldn’t have the job I do today without my degree from the university; not only because of the skills that I learnt whilst studying, or even just having the title on my CV, but the fact that it gave me three years of uninterrupted time to build a solid portfolio that I could proudly take to interview with prospective employers. Our lecturers used to tell us to treasure the time, because rarely would we ever have as much time to invest in making work again. How right they were!
I currently work at Grazia magazine in London. My role is on the the art desk, designing pages for the magazine and editing images to choose the best ones to send to print each week. I knew I wanted to work in magazine design whilst I was studying, so as well as applying for work experience placements during the university holidays, I spent time talking to my lecturers about how I could tailor my final year projects to help me create a portfolio ready for interviews in London after graduation. One of my third year projects was ‘photography for editorial design’ which allowed me to take a wide selection of fashion and beauty themed images and then put them into custom made magazine pages, which was a massive help when creating my portfolio.
I began an internship at Look magazine two weeks after finishing university – A slot that I had booked in the March to ensure they had space in the summer – and was very lucky to be kept on as a junior designer there. I built my portfolio further, and was promoted to designer within a year. I stayed at Look for over two years, then earlier this year I made the tough decision to leave colleagues who had become friends and an environment that I had become so comfortable in to pursue a new challenge; moving to a new magazine. Whilst it was a hard choice to make, I knew for my career I needed to expand my portfolio and try a new style of design, and I’m so glad that I did. I now have new colleagues who are friends, and feel equally as comfortable in this office as my last, and my portfolio is growing stronger by the day.
For anyone entering their last year, or those who have just graduated, my best advice is to put yourself out there, take a chance on a role that scares you a bit, and it might just pay off. For those entering creative industries, accept that to get a foot in the door, you may need to do some tough ground work and it probably won’t pay well at first, but the possibilities once you pass the first stage are endless. I’m really looking forward to joining the University of Lincoln School of Film & Media’s Industry Mentors, and hope I’ll be able to offer some advice and guidance for students at a time I remember to be a little bit scary, but overall very exciting!