Case study

Web designer — Niki Forecast

Niki's a web designer who started her career on an unpaid internship, but after only two weeks was being paid for her work and secured her current job without the need for an interview

I studied a BSc Media Technology degree at Oxford Brookes University, which included modules in web design, graphic design and animation. I am now studying for a MA in Visual Communication at University of Gloucestershire.

I enjoyed the web design modules on my degree and wanted to get some related work experience. I created a portfolio website and sent a link to it to all the local web design agencies asking for a summer internship. One company replied offering me a paid position on the condition of the successful completion of two weeks unpaid interning.

Due to the success of this summer placement I continued to work for them on a part-time basis while I completed the final year of my degree. This naturally followed into a full-time position upon graduating.

We work for a variety of organisations, both small and large, to create their web solutions. For a large-value client I usually work as part of a team, which includes a project manager, a lead designer, a lead SEO and a project manager.

I take the lead on medium-value projects where my day to day work includes meeting with the client to identify their needs, wireframing (i.e. creating a rough framework of the site layout), creating visuals using Photoshop, making amendments as required, building the website using HTML and CSS, handing over to the client and finally post-sales support. We use Adobe Dreamweaver to do the coding and a content management system called Adobe Business Catalyst.

My company employs approximately 11 staff who, at any one time, are usually working on a couple of large projects, a few medium projects and then a few smaller templated projects.

Progression within my company would be to senior designer once I've gained further years of experience; this would give me more responsibility and allow me to be the lead designer on the large-budget projects.

What I enjoyed most when starting my job was the coding and problem solving. Now I don't find this as challenging as I used to; the creativity that the design part allows is more appealing.

The most challenging part of my job is the coding as this can become monotonous especially on large projects. But there's a lot of satisfaction once a website is live as you can monitor the analytics to see increases in visits to the website and sometimes an increase in sales for the client.

My advice for other students and graduates who would like to get into like this career is to make the most of the summer vacation by taking up an internship.