Tahmena Lutfi was a double major in Public Relations and Journalism, but after working for a couple years in marketing, she decided to make a big change. After studying design 3 months full-time at Shillington, she landed a job as a Digital Designer at Hooroo, a Qantas Group Company.
Read on to hear how a Shillington graduate from 10 years ago inspired her career change, how she stayed patient until finding her ideal design job and why she loves working as a digital designer.
What were you up to before Shillington?
Prior to Shillington, I graduated from Monash University with a Bachelor of Professional Communications with a double major in Public Relations and Journalism. After completing PR and marketing internships at a few different companies like French Connection Australia and Sportsgirl, I was working as a marketing assistant for a telecommunications company. I was responsible for all aspects of marketing including the management of digital and social channels, coordinating upcoming marketing campaigns and expanding business partnerships.
Why did you decide to study design? And why Shillington?
I’ve always found consumer buyer behaviour interesting, and can remember even as a little girl I loved looking at marketing collateral, magazine layouts, and even catalogues, analysing how they were put together and why. I always knew I wanted to work in communications, but it wasn’t until I was working on marketing collateral with a graphic designer everyday in my previous role that I worked out it was visual communications that I was interested in. This designer was a graduate of Shillington from over 10 years ago, and to see them do what they loved each day was enough for me to want to find out more about Shillington’s course and what they could offer me. It was the accelerated course structure and this personal recommendation that helped me decide to apply for Shillington’s full time course.
You’ve been working as a Digital Designer at Qantas and Jetstar Hotels for nearly a year. Tell us how you landed the job!
After freelancing for a few months and keeping an eye out for design positions in Melbourne, I finally landed the role I was after. Having previously worked in a marketing role, I looked for positions where I was able to showcase my marketing and communication knowledge as well as my new design skills. I had marketing, social media and communications experience, and felt this shone throughout my portfolio with the roll out of projects I had completed at Shillington, and the way I presented them at interviews.
It was important for me to be confident in what I presented, and after working so hard on each project at Shillington, I felt happy showcasing my portfolio.
Shillington has a strong emphasis on conceptual design thinking, and I believe this helped me talk through my designs with greater confidence, and even capture the attention of interviewers with the unique ideas and backstories I had come up with. I had run through the presentation of my portfolio several times before even my first proper interview, which meant I was able to talk about all aspects of the folio with no doubt in mind.
What’s your typical day like?
My main priorities are to create digital assets to support campaign activity across Qantas and Jetstar Hotels. This includes sourcing and editing imagery to be used across online and above-the-line promotional activity, editing and finalising email design and HTML files ready for digital delivery, creating HTML-5 animated banners for digital advertising across the Google Display Network, designing corporate stationary and more.
Why do you love working as a designer?
Put simply, I love that my job is to make things look good, and to make people want to learn more about a product or service. As I’ve always had an interest in the way promotional activity is presented, it is exciting for me to be able to use my creativity, and combine this with my interest in consumer marketing. I also love the tech side of design, and the fact that I’m able to use design and web-based programs in my day to day work.
What was your favourite Shillington project? Why?
I really loved redesigning Athen’s city branding. It was great to be able to focus on one city, and drill into the lengthy research I had done to find a unique angle to base my design on. I chose to base my design on the evolving nature of the city, and represent this in custom lettering. It was interesting to take something that already exists and completely transform it and make it my own. I enjoyed this project during the course, but also loved completing the roll out for it to be part of my portfolio—it is still to this day is one of mine (and some of my peers’) favourite pieces of work!
What advice would you give to a Shillington student on day one?
Embrace and take on the feedback you receive from your teachers. Although creative work is often subjective, you must first learn the foundations of design and design theory, and understand why things work. If you take on this attitude from day one, you’re already miles ahead.
Where do you go for creative inspiration?
I don’t venture too far, actually! If I’m online, ill stick to Pinterest, Behance or Designspiration (the colour search is everything I could wish for!).
But really, even in the day to day, if I see something that captures my attention, I’ll make sure to document it.
Whether it’s a poster on the street, really cool branding at a cafe or even an awesome-looking business card, I make sure to save it/take a photo/take one home with me. I have a visual diary that I make sure to keep updated with inspiring creative I spot.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Just a bit of advice for anyone that’s interested in the course but is unsure whether to do it. Just put yourself out there! If you’ve always thought about design and it’s something you are genuinely interested in, then why wait?
I took a huge risk leaving my permanent marketing position, but can honestly say I’m super happy I started Shillington when I did.
It’s definitely a very challenging course to take on in 3 months, and you will need to stop everything else you’re doing and be happy to not sleep (much), but I can promise it will clarify your future.
Huge thanks to Tahmena for sharing her story!
Do you want to become a designer in 3 months full-time or 9 months part-time? Study at Shillington in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, New York, London or Manchester –> www.shillingtoneducation.com