Have Your Say … Best advice you received as a student?

Earlier this month Design Insider visited New Designers and One Year In where we enjoyed the opportunity to speak with students and graduates.  Knowing from our own experiences that the transition from student to graduate can be uncertain we chose to seek advice on behalf of students and graduates by asking design professionals about the best advise they received as students or what advice they would give the graduate class of 2018.

Have your say student advice

NEWH UK are focused on providing scholarships to young designers to help with their studies and to promote education within the industry and The BCFA recently sponsored their first Hospitality Network UK Round Table event at the Marriott County Hall in London.  At the event we asked the event hosts, Caroline Cundall, David McCarthy, Libby Bull, Laurie Woliung, Daniel Englander, Elizabeth Lane and Maria Ashton, for their advice.

John Atkin, Managing Director, Bisley

‘Never wait to be given work – if your desk or inbox is empty – ask if there is anything you can do!

Understand and experience as much of your organisation as possible in your first few months to quickly get a feel for the whole, rather than just your department, before you inevitably start to specialise.

Become more effective and valuable by working across departments to build your internal network. You will stand out more if you demonstrate that you understand the ‘big picture’ and if you can assist the business by drawing on connections you have made.’

Have your say student advice 2

Nigel Tresise, Director & Co-founder, align

‘Savour challenges and opportunities as they present themselves and be open to letting your career take you in unexpected directions. It’s a time of discovery. Much better to try something and not like it than to wonder later ‘what if?’

Carolyn Mitchell, Group Contracts Sales Director, Style Library Contracts

‘A career is built on demonstrating consistency, day in day out. I believe the purpose of every challenge is to teach us something and our biggest lessons come from the most challenging moments. Always be the best you can be and make everything you do count, big or small, but most important of all – remember to enjoy the journey!’

Have your say student advice 3

Lindie Kramers, Director of Brand, Phoenix Wharf

‘You’re in the business of finding out what’s possible in the first few years of your career, so have a can-do attitude wherever you end up working: offer to help, speak to people at coffee and lunch-times about what they do and, above all, be inquisitive. Always better to ask a naïve question than to make a stupid assumption.’

Greg Whittle, Futureglass

‘Be flexible. Don’t assume just because you have graduated you know everything, never stop trying to learn. Have a voice, you have ideas and opinions but also understand when it is better to listen. But most importantly; love what you do.’

Have your say student advice 4

Helen Owen, Director of Business Development, Bisley

‘Work hard on your CV and question responses; remember it is you that a company is buying as much as your portfolio so make a good impression in person as well as online. Above all ask for feedback learn as you go and keep going.’

Aileen McEwan, Graduate Marketing Assistant, Macnaughton Holdings Ltd

‘Be aware that you will constantly be learning new things. Do not be afraid to ask questions to fill the gaps in your knowledge, people are always very happy to share their knowledge and expertise.’

Have your say student advice 5

Simon Tong, Design Director, Goddard Littlefair

‘There will be times when you think your idea is great. Believe in it and yourself and fight all the way to get it.’

Neil Tomlinson, Founder, Neil Tomlinson Architects

‘Try to get your portfolio together and out quickly, as most employers will be punch-drunk on CVs by the end of Summer. Give it a stand-out feature and do a dummy run-through with a friend to make sure you can get the main points across succinctly. Above all, be keen!’

What advice would you give a new graduate? What advice do you wish you had received? Please let us know in the comments section below of on twitter @DesignInsider1


About Alys Bryan

Alys is a knowledgeable design editor who is focused on instigating conversations, both online and in-person, with industry experts which challenge, educate and advance the commercial interior sector. Her training and 15 years of professional experience as a furniture designer for the commercial sector makes her uniquely placed to lead Design Insider as Editor
View all posts by Alys Bryan →


  • Joe Earley

    Be open to opportunity and willing to move to the work. It’s probably the only time in your life where you will have that freedom, use it to your advantage.

    • Alys Bryan

      Couldn’t agree more Joe, a graduate has so much freedom to relocate for a work opportunity. Is this something which you took advantage of?