Studying Arabic at University and working as an Account Executive at an Advertising Agency may not be the expected path to becoming a graphic designer. Roo Cassels however, has certainly broken the mold. Since studying at Shillington he’s now a Designer at one of London’s most desirable branding and packaging studios, Big Fish.
We caught up with Roo, 1 year after graduating from Shillington to hear about his new job and what it’s like to be a designer. Read on to learn more about his journey into design and advice to recent graduates.
You enrolled at Shillington following a role as an Account Executive. What initially made you realise that graphic design was something you were interested in and wanted to pursue as a career?
I worked in an Advertising agency as an Account Executive for 18 months and I soon realised how frustrating it was for me not to be on the creative side of things. When I started looking for a way out I didn’t know I could retrain as a Graphic Designer without going to University, so Shillington was exactly what I was looking for.
At University you studied Arabic! That’s so interesting but seems such a departure from your job as a graphic designer now. Do you think coming from a different educational background put you at a disadvantage at Shillington?
No, not at all. I think anyone who’s been through University —whatever degree they do—eventually learns how to manage their time and work to deadlines, so I guess it helped.
A lot of people are surprised that I took a different path but I found this was the norm at Shillington which was reassuring.
What was your experience of Shillington like? Do you feel it was what you imagined it to be?
It was one of the most challenging and inspiring things I’ve done, and I had no idea I’d get to where I did in only 3 months. I found the teaching and support to be both friendly and professional and got the best out of everyone.
Can you tell us about what it’s like to work at Big Fish? They’re behind some of the more beautiful packaging on the shelves, did you know much about them before joining the team?
As with any studio the pace of life at Big Fish is pretty fast and I found that Shillington had really prepared me for that. I had done a fair bit of research on packaging design that I liked, and because Big Fish put their website on the back of everything they designed I discovered them while reading the back of a cereal box!
What’s a typical day as a graphic designer for you? Do you have any stand-out moments from your time at Big Fish so far?
Every day’s different so sometimes I may be cutting and sticking, making mock-ups, designing on the computer, on a photo shoot or at a meeting with clients—its definitely an upgrade from my old job.
Seeing my designs on the shelf at the supermarket is a pretty cool feeling.
Did you anticipate landing a job in branding and packaging? Was it a direction you hoped to go in while studying at Shillington?
I was pretty open minded because I wasn’t quite sure what was out there, but after doing some work experience in various design disciplines I knew that I was more into the physical side of design so branding and packaging was the logical choice.
How did you go about the job search following graduation? Did you feel prepared to apply for roles?
Shillington helped a lot with perfecting my portfolio and CV so I felt more confident that I had expected to. I was applying to studios with varying success and then luckily got an internship at Big Fish which has since led to a permanent position. They were impressed with the level I had reached in 3 months in both my software skills and knowledge of design, so thanks to Shillington!
Do you have any advice for students who are about to graduate, as they start the job search?
Its very useful to see how a studio works as they’re all very different and may not suit you. So get some work experience before making a big decision but don’t leave it too long.
If like Roo, you’re itching to make your career more creative come see what we’re all about at a Shillington info session! We are fast approaching our next intake on April 24 in London, Manchester and New York, get in touch to find out about availability.
Considering studying at our Australian campuses? Our next intake is June 5 at Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Find out more at shillingtoneducation.com