Lately in school there’s a lot of talk of design companies and placements (especially the third years). Our teachers have been telling us to make contacts, and start trying to get out there, do research on places you might want to work in the future or for placement. I thought it would be a good idea to talk to someone about their experiences, thoughts and advice.
I looked at some places in Ottawa and came across Accurate. I looked at their website and their works and was blown away by how much stuff I’ve seen that they do. So I sent them an e-mail. They were very fast at e-mailing me back and had no problem with helping me out.
I got in contact with Marc Landry (Partner & CFO/CAO), who was unfortunately unavailable. I then got to speak to Caroline (Caro) Breau (Director of Operations) who was more then happy to help me out, but thought that Doug Jackson (Creative Director & RGD), was the right person to speak to about designing.
Mr.Jackson told me a lot of great advice about how he got into the business. He told me, “I had to knock on a lot of doors before someone took a shot. Don’t down play the importance of hard work. I had to do a lot of work on my own in the early days to prove myself and build my portfolio. Also, when I got into the profession I had to demonstrate that I wanted to lead in order to become a leader. That takes work too. No one ever succeeds in life without a measure of extra effort. That’s how you stand out.
The other thing I always did was try to be different all the time. Being unpredictable as a designer shows your adaptability to employers and clients. Coming up with the next big idea helps you constantly grow. Pushing out of your comfort level constantly pushes you to learn something you didn’t know before. When you leave school you should be ready to start to learn. I’ve been in the industry for close to 30 years and I learn something new and push myself to adapt everyday.”
As a student that’s building my portfolio now I wanted to know what people or companies (like Accurate) are looking for. He told me, “Creativity, and talent. I’m also looking for people that have demonstrated thinking and a range of styles. Designers that are new to the industry do not have a body of work or the experience to say they have a style. Also, limiting oneself to a particular style limits their employability to agencies that share their style. A portfolio full of work based solely on a student’s personal interests such as fashion or skateboards doesn’t show me they can work on corporate work or other retail. Designers need to be flexible and adapt their thinking to the client’s needs. They cannot force their interests or styles on a client that doesn’t share their taste. Not only that, it limits the number of clients they can do work for. Those that stand out from their class are typically the ones that followed the brief well but looked to try styles that were away from the crowd.” I found this SUPER helpful. When our professors give us the choice of picking our topic most people go to something they are interested in. I will definitely be keeping this in mind for the next one.
Finally, my last piece of information I would like to share with you is, as usual, what piece of advice would you give someone going into the business?
He said ”Never stop learning. School has given you the skills to step into the work world ready to operate a computer and understanding of design principles. You will encounter many challenges with technology that school could never touch in a short span. You will encounter many clients that will force you to adapt and grow. And, you will work with many people that have vast experiences, good and bad. Draw on them and learn like a sponge and you will succeed.”
I am so happy to have had the chance to speak to the people at Accurate, got to know the type of people they are, and Mr.Jackson’s experiences, thoughts and advice. I found this information SUPER helpful as a student, and hope that you can take as much inspiration away from Mr.Jackson’s advice as I have. Now if you excuse me, I’m going to be a sponge.