After a long stint working in architecture studios, Shillington London graduate Becky Dore realised exactly what she wanted to do: graphic design. She turned to some designer friends and the answer was obvious: Shillington. Becky enrolled on our January 2021 course which, due to the UK’s Covid-19 lockdown, took place entirely online. Becky flourished online, with our Teachers and her fellow classmates logging onto Zoom every day with a smile, and graduated in April just as the UK was starting to open up again. A few months down the line, Becky landed herself a job at OnThree, a branding and communications agency, where she continues to flourish further.
We caught up with Becky at the tail end of the year to talk about studying, graduating and finding a job during a pandemic and her love for design.
Why Shillington? What made our design course stand out from the rest?
I’d known about Shillington for a number of years and had always wanted to pursue it, but the timing was never right for me until more recently. I knew of designers who had come through the course and then gone on to have a career in the industry—that was a big part of why I felt it was the right course for me to do. I wanted something that would be rigorous but wouldn’t take a long time, so the full-time option was perfect.
You studied on our January 2021 full-time course in London—which coincided with a pretty strict lockdown in the UK. What was your experience of the course in lockdown like? Was there benefits to learning online?
Studying online exceeded my expectations. I was hoping to be able to go in, but I felt that the teachers handled the online learning experience very well. They had some nifty digital tools in place and everything ran smoothly.
I felt that they made an extra effort to help us get to know all of our classmates at the start of the course, which helped to quell any nerves about joining a class online. We were always connected as classmates and to the teachers throughout the day.
Did working in lockdown bring you close as a class? Did you make any lasting connections with fellow students or any of your teachers?
Despite not meeting each other offline at all during the course or at our graduation we are all part of an active WhatsApp group now. It’s great to stay in touch, to support each other and ask for advice. We have already arranged a couple of in-person meetups, with more to come…
What was your favourite brief on the course? Tell us your process!
It has to be the corporate identity brief. This was what you would call a ‘dream brief’ basically! We were each given a city and an architect, then we had to use the design process we’d been taught to research and create an identity for a new events venue. I love the initial research phase so enjoyed looking at competitors, understanding the city (I was given Barcelona) and the audience.
It was engaging to conceive big ideas, to present them to the class, to decide which idea to move forwards with and to then design the brand rollout. Having to give a reason for every decision you made was an awesome learning process.
How have the six months been since graduation? You’ve been working in a studio since June?
Yes, it’s been great! I took a short amount of time to rest, then started to do a little freelance work alongside applying for jobs. I really wanted to get a full-time role so I could learn from others and work on a variety of projects. I started working at OnThree Design in June which has been really awesome, I’m learning every day and working with great people.
What was it like finding a job during a pandemic? Did you start the role online or were you back in the office?
Things were opening up at the time I started so it was a mix of both, in office and remote which is still the case now. In hindsight, learning online at Shillington was actually perfect preparation for the world we are in now where remote working is more common. Obviously we were online every day during the course and we also had to do a lot of presentations, which helped with the nerves when it came to interviewing online and then working with people through a screen. Prior to getting the job, I spent a lot of time tweaking my portfolio and editing my CV… It’s good to be aware that this is always a work in progress!
Before the course you were working in architecture studios—as a studio manager and then a project coordinator. Did this help you prepare for working in a design studio?
Yes, I’d say your previous experiences are always going to be useful in some way when switching careers. I think there’s no one good path to becoming a designer/going through a career change, but for me it helped with client meetings, managing time and setting schedules.
And did it help you on the course at all? Had you built any experience with design from your previous jobs?
I did not have any direct design experience prior to the course, but have worked in more administrative roles within the creative sector and maintained a strong interest in graphic design. This helped a lot; just having a keen interest in what’s happening in the design world and maintaining a desire to learn.
Finally, as a graduate, if you could give one piece of advice to someone starting at Shillington, what would it be?
Massive cliche but just enjoy it and get stuck in. The time goes really quickly.
And, in more stressful or time-pressed moments (perhaps during portfolio time) just remember why you wanted to do the course in the first place and you will be fine! If you give it your all, it will pay off in the end.
Anything else you would like to add?
A big thank you to all of my coursemates, the teachers and the people ‘behind the scenes’ at Shillington.