Heather studied for a BA (Hons) in Graphic Design from the University of Leeds. She is currently a sub-editor across several magazine titles
I was lucky enough to go into my job almost straight after graduating. I did actively pursue positions in the sector though - sending out speculative applications with a covering letter/CV and some samples of work. The job came up and it happened that the head of studio had kept my CV on file in case anything became available.
My degree subject was very relevant to my current job. Although my extracurricular experience was also valuable; I now combine what I learnt on my degree course with skills I picked up working on the university newspaper in my spare time.
At the start of the day, I initially discuss with my chief sub-editor what the tasks are for the day and what is due to go to print. My main responsibilities include subbing the text that our editorial department puts through and designing a layout suitable for the magazine and tone of the article.
Throughout the day we also have editorial, strategy and studio meetings and I am also responsible for writing and updating certain elements of our websites. We are constantly striving to keep the magazines fresh and original, so an ongoing job is assessing what could be improved, by introducing new features or re-designing existing templates. If I have any spare time, I also write reviews and columns for a number of the magazines.
My course taught me to be conceptual and not necessarily approach editorial design in the obvious way - being original but still working within a rigid template is the main challenge.
I work to tight deadlines and the fast-paced nature of the job is always motivating, but primarily I enjoy the opportunity to be creative every day.
It can be challenging, however, like when we have to compromise on design because a client or colleague doesn't like it, and keeping organised with seemingly hundreds of things going on at once.
I would tell anyone who has studied graphic design to be pro-active. No one comes to find you; it's your responsibility to chase the appropriate person down and make sure they get the right information.
Get a comprehensive CV and, most importantly, a portfolio to show to prospective employers at the last minute. Take any opportunity to expand your collection of skills; when you move on to another job it's good for employers to see that you've been willing to take on more responsibilities - this also applies to extracurricular activities at university; I wouldn't have got the job without my experience on the newspaper.
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