Design work experience student workbook

A 20 page workbook to help students complete work experience in a design studio.

Contents

How work experience works
How to organise your studio contacts
Suggested interview questions
Worksheets
Timesheets/diary
Help write a design brief
Achievements checklist to record outcomes

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Interview techniques

The basics

When a studio owner looks at a folio they are looking at whether the designer will fit into the studio; whether they will listen, take direction and learn. When a designer is being interviewed, they are selling themselves and their ability to fit in.

This also applies to you when seeking work experience. The studio owner will be wondering if you will gain from the experience. Your portfolio presentation is the perfect scenario to outline your understanding of design, demonstrate your communication skills and show your willingness to learn.

Time is money in a design studio. When a studio takes on a work experience student they know it will take up their time and that will cost money. You should understand this and prepare yourself so you don't waste any time.

You can prepare yourself by doing a mock interview with your parents or friends. Conduct this as a full role play. Knock on the door, enter, introduce yourself and shake hands. Present a hard copy of your resume and then go through your folio. Have some follow up questions about working in the studio. Time the presentation to fit in with the time that the studio has allocated.

The interview is about storytelling. Good designers learn how to weave good stories early in their career. When preparing for the interview make sure you tell the story behind your work. Recap the brief or assignment, explain how you met the objective and highlight anything unique about the process you used.

Before attending the interview make sure that you know where the studio is located. That may seem a simple point but in some cities there are very similar street names. Use Google maps to make sure you know how to get to the studio EARLY. If you are at all unsure call the studio and check the location. You could look it up on Google maps and say something like "I have looked up the studio location and I am just checking that you are the second building from the corner of x and y streets". Never show up late to an interview or cancel without an extremely good reason (my dog is sick just won’t cut it).

When you arrange the meeting ask how much time they would allow for the meeting. Use this to plan out your presentation, making sure you leave at least 5 minutes for questions and answers.

If you are met at the door by the person doing the interview and you are being taken to an interview room, use the time to hand them your resume and show your interest by making positive comments:

‘Gee this is a big space’

‘It looks so bright and open’

‘Have you been here long?’

Everyone likes to be asked about their job and this is a good way to connect with the person who is to interview you. If you have done your research and you know they are a senior designer or design manager let them know you know that about them.

You have to “sell yourself” and your interest in their design studio.
Remember you are asking them to invest money in training you.

Some designers like to flip through the portfolio themselves – they like to control the pace of the presentation. Others will want to see how you present your ideas and then go back to specific pieces where they want more information. The easiest way to suss this out is to ask them if they want you to take them through your folio. If you notice that they take over part way through it is possibly because you are getting bogged down and they want to help you through the process. Whatever way, at your stage in your career, let them take control when and how they want.

When you are presenting a finished piece make sure you tell the story behind it. Recap the brief or assignment, explain how you met the objective and highlight anything unique about your process.

When talking about the process don’t say anything negative about your work or your teachers.

Often at the end of the interview they will ask if you have any questions. This is a way to show your interest. Use your Work Experience workbook to write down a number of questions. Take a copy of the book with you to show that you are serious about work experience in their studio. The questions in your workbook could include:

What do you think of my work?

Have you seen other students portfolios?

How does mine compare?

Does my work give you enough of an idea of how I would fit into the studio?

Make sure you get a business card so that you can send them a thank you email after the interview.