WEDF has been running the unique mentoring scheme, Design Buddy, since 2011 with more than 150 students receiving one to one mentoring from senior designers, creative directors and agency owners from Bath and Bristol over the years. As a result, all the students experienced real studio life, were able to receive specific feedback about their work, gained a deeper understanding of what's really needed in the industry, made new contacts and grew in confidence.
We invited Lily Papadopoulos, one of our students from UWE’s 2017 cohort, to write an article about her Design Buddy experience. Lots of the Design Buddy students stay in touch with their buddies over the years, and on this occasion, Lily went on to gain an internship and subsequently a job as a Junior Designer at the agency where she was buddied, Taxi Studio. Here are six things Lily learned from the scheme.
After four years of my design education, and various working experiences in different studios, the term ‘taking baby steps’ into my career has never been more of a visual treat. My first steps were at the beginning of my second year at UWE when the Design Buddy scheme started, and I could get real insight into the design industry. The scheme has helped me enormously in terms of critically reflecting on my university work and evaluating what sort of design career I am aiming to pursue.
Lily’s top tip: grasp every opportunity presented to you.
Listening is a key skill which I have learned is extremely important! Design Buddy gives you the opportunity to have the support of someone who knows what they’re talking about when it comes to industry, and to give you insight into projects from their perspective. So, having multiple one-to-one critiques with the Creative Head of an award-winning design studio certainly pricked my ears up!
Lily’s top tip: invest in a lovely notebook and pen that you can write everything down in.
The only way to receive interesting feedback is by asking questions! It really is a unique opportunity to have the support of someone within the design industry that you are able to ask questions to, so really make the most out of it!
Lily’s top tip: arrive prepared with some questions.
It is a very faint mark, halfway between the second and third follow-up email. I have learnt that it’s usually good to email a second time, as people are generally very busy.
Lily’s top tip: gentle reminders are key.
One major aspect of Design Buddy is the realistic expectations it sets for you for the near future. It has helped me consider what sort of designer I am, the type of studios I would like to work for, and the sort of things that I could only guess at before joining the scheme.
Lily’s top tip: all experience is good experience.
It’s difficult not to get the old pussyfoot out when discussing the content and quality of work. Design Buddy has not only taught me how to approach talking about work in an appropriate manner, but also how to reflect on it in an honest way which has benefitted my portfolio enormously and enabled me to have a body of work which I am proud of and actually want to shout about!
Lily’s top tip: feedback makes for better work.
Image credit: Taxi Studio