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Going to Shillington was one of the best decisions of my life.

Graphic Designer, Macquarie University

Peta Harris

What were you up to before Shillington?

I had studied and worked as a graphic designer before having a family. When I went back to work I knew I couldn’t go back to design because I’d been out of it for about 20 years. When I studied at Shillington I had two jobs working part-time, data-entry/admin for a media analytics company and retail – customer service for a cute clothing store in Newtown. Plus looking after two school age children.

Why did you decide to study design part-time?

I wanted to work as a graphic designer again. Part-time study worked well with work and family. The kids were growing up so I had more time.

What’s your typical day like as a designer?

Get a coffee with a friend from the office. Check my emails. Make a priority list of work for the day. Put my headphones in and get to it. Occasionally I go to meetings but mostly I share work with the CD at my desk. I work for a university so there’s a lot of stakeholders, lots of people to please, so just getting the concept out of marketing can be a challenge. Some projects are integrated design across different platforms and mediums other jobs are small eg. an A4 flyer. I work within a team designers which I love.

What would you say to someone who is sceptical about Shillington?

Hmm, go to the info night and ask questions. I did. I asked how much I’d get paid in a job as a junior? Answer: not much. Haha, it gets better though. I loved the way the course is organised. Small to large jobs with realistic deadlines. Honest feedback. Up to date with software and design trends. The teachers are relevant because they work in the industry. You leave with an awesome portfolio (if you put in the work) which is your ticket to a creative career. Going to Shillington was one of the best decisions of my life.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Like many industries, graphic design is ageist. I walked into many interviews for a ‘junior’ where the interviewer was half my age (jaw drops) As a mid-weight, I’ve come across the comment that I’m ‘too senior a designer for the job’ when they actually mean ‘I’m too senior full-stop’. Oh well, their loss. You just persist, there’s heaps of great people especially designers out there, it’s a matter of finding the right area eg. corporate client-side, agency, not-for-profit, fashion (do not recommend) etc.

Check out Peta’s website.

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