BA (Hon)est: Graduate advice #1 – The Job Search

I can’t believe that it’s May already – this time last year I was pulling my hair out in the run up to my Degree exhibition. It’s amazing and very scary just how fast my first year as a graduate (although I technically didn’t graduate until September) has passed and as you will have read, it’s not been rainbows and unicorns like I had imagined! But I’ve finally made it to the other side (I’m employed – woo!), so I wanted to write a couple of posts about what I’ve learnt and hopefully help you guys to succeed where I struggled. (BA (Hon)est’ is a play on BA (Hons) if you’re wondering)

Leaving the ‘safety’ of University and finding a job is one of the hardest things you will go through in your career/life and it’s important to stay positive and motivated – you will get there! Searching for your first job or internship is a daunting task, especially when you are up against 25,000 other Graphic Design graduates so it’s important to be prepared and focused.

If you haven’t started already, get on with it because time is of the essence! I stupidly didn’t worry about the job situation until the degree exhibition finished and then panicked because everyone else had placements lined up. Please, learn from my mistakes! Unless you are the luckiest/best designer in the world, you won’t walk into an internship or a job without any effort (although it does happen!), so be ready to spend hours searching websites and twitter. It’s easy to get lost and confused about what you’re looking for so it’s a good idea to make a list before you start.

The main things you need to know:

What? What is the job title that you’re looking for? For some jobs there are several variations of names so just make sure you’re clear about what is expected from you and what you can expect from the job.
Where? Where in the world are you looking to work? It could be local to your parents house or it could be the other side of the ocean but obviously moving away is going to take a lot more planning. London isn’t the only city in the UK with creative jobs so don’t rule out other cities such as Manchester, Sheffield and Bristol – it’s all about what suits your needs/lifestyle
Who? Which studio do you want to work for in an ideal world? What is it about them that you like? Who works there and what are they like?
How? How much are you going to get paid? Nobody seems to like talking about the money side of things but it has to be done – you need to be able to live!

To help you out, here are a few jobs boards where new internship and job opportunities come and go everyday:

– It’s Nice That
These guys are busy – a successful blog, magazine, events AND a jobs board, It’s Nice That jobs is my top recommendation for finding creative internships and jobs. It’s deigned nicely, easy to use and usually there is a great variety of jobs listed here. You can search by job title or just scroll through – who knows what you might find? The listing and application close dates are displayed so that you know how long you have to prepare your CV and then click on the studio logo to find out the job description, requirements and how to apply.

– Design Jobs Board
Similar to It’s Nice That, Design Jobs Board is also well organised and bursting with creative jobs. It clearly displays the studio and location of the job so that you can browse and pick out what you need with ease.

– City Calling
Looking for a job as a creative in house within a business rather than a design studio?

 City Calling * lists a large variety of jobs in business focused industries. You can upload your CV information and apply for jobs through the site, which avoids having to type in information over and over again! City Calling also have a good blog section with helpful articles including Phone Interview tips, How to use your degree and tips for working abroad.

– YCN Opportunities
YCN stands for Young Creatives Network (or more recently You Can Now?) and they do a great job helping young creatives progress in their careers. I think it all began with the YCN Awards but now the website includes an opportunities jobs board which you can register as a member (it’s free at the moment) and receive all of the other member benefits too.

– University Careers & Employability Scheme
I don’t know if every University has something like this but as a graduate from the University of Lincoln you can sign up to a scheme which sends you emails about jobs and internships in your field. Lincoln grads sign up here and everyone else get in touch with your Student Union/Careers service to find out if something similar is available to you.

– Twitter
No, twitter’s not a jobs board but if you’re following the right people it’s amazing the opportunities that can appear amongst the hashtags! Really love a studio’s work? Get following their studio account as well as the creative that work there – it takes a bit of research but will be worth it if you get a job.

These accounts regularly post about opportunities:

@UoLCareers (for Lincoln grads)

– Studio websites
Sometimes studios only advertise internships and jobs on their own websites so make a list of your favourite places and have a nosy around their site. If it is your dream studio but they’re not advertising, why not drop them an email introducing yourself with a pdf portfolio and online links anyway? You’ve got nothing to lose and who knows, they might love you!

Check these websites DAILY – I’m serious, the early bird catches the worm! Now you’ve found internships and jobs that sound amazing get your CV and pdf portfolio sorted, compose a covering letter and press send on that email – do it!

Done that? Now it’s the waiting game. This is the horrible part as studios receive so many applications now that if you’re not successful you’re unlikely to hear anything back. I just want to also stress that there’s nothing to be ashamed about if you don’t get the first(or second, or tenth) jobs you apply for. Sure, it’s depressing and disheartening but you need to stay positive – what can you learn from the experience? Do you need to change your approach/ CV/ portfolio? If you’re really having a tough time and dealing with a lot of rejection then maybe it’s time to ask for help from a friend/coursemate? Send one of your application emails to them and let them critique it – a fresh pair of eyes could mean making small tweaks and (hopefully) bagging a job! Also have a read of The Ideal Candidate which includes opinions and advice from a range of creatives.

I’m always open to helping so feel free to get in touch and send your portfolio! I don’t claim to be the world’s best designer but I will pass on anything that I’ve learnt.

I’ve got my fingers crossed for you all and if you’ve got any other questions just drop me an email! Wow, that was a lot of writing – who’s ready for the next post? 😉

* This post is sponsored by City Calling – a jobs board to aid graduates from a wide variety of industries with their UK Job Search. Remember though, I wouldn’t promote it if I didn’t think it was any good! *


  • Kate Palmer

    24/05/2014 at 9:19 pm

    great advice! I’m already having worries and doubts and we haven’t even had the show yet, it is really scary and I think people seem to forget and underestimate how scary it is, just expecting us to just be able to jump in to a job straight away when we all know its not that easy!

    • graphiquefantastique

      26/05/2014 at 10:26 pm

      Hey Kate, glad it helped you! It’s a scary and stressful time but it’s important to just be positive. I agree, people do just expect you to land a job with the click of your fingers but I guess that’s because they have faith in you? Lincoln grads have a brilliant success rate, but it’s still really tough ha Good luck 🙂

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© Natasha Nuttall | January 2022

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