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Hear straight from our graduates.

Shillington taught me everything I needed to know to be a junior designer right off the bat and pushed my creative thinking to make something meaningful, not just pretty.

Freelance Graphic Designer & Illustrator

Alexandra Francis

Why did you choose to study graphic design at Shillington? What made you choose our course?

I had just graduated in June and I was unsure about what I wanted to do. I knew someone who did Shillington, raved about it and got a job soon after finishing the course. After hearing that, I went to an Info Session and booked myself onto the September course immediately after.

You previously studied Fine Art, why did you decide to add graphic design to your roster? How did Shillington enhance your skillset?

I finished my degree knowing I didn’t want to be a fine artist—I knew I could draw and think creatively but I didn’t know what to do with that in the real world. Graphic design appealed to me because I loved the idea of making something to help someone else, but what stopped me was my lack of experience in the Adobe programs. Shillington taught me everything I needed to know to be a junior designer right off the bat and pushed my creative thinking to make something meaningful, not just pretty.

You’re really active on Instagram and Twitter. How important do you think this is in the industry? Can you give some advice to Shillington students about social media?

My Instagram landed me my current job! My creative director saw my illustrations and asked if I wanted to intern a few months later. That being said, social media can add a lot of unnecessary pressure on students so only have a social media presence if you want to have one. For me, it’s a creative outlet that I enjoy doing after work and I love interacting with other designers through different hashtags. If you want to start a social media for your design I’d say get involved with something like #36daysoftype or #inktober, it’s a great way to get started.

Did you make any lasting relationships with your teachers or other students? Are you still in contact with any of them?

Yes! We formed a big, weird family and we see each other nearly weekly. We’ve been on holiday together visiting students in our class who weren’t from Manchester and I’ll be going to one of my classmate’s wedding soon. It’s nice to have a supportive community of people who are in the exact same position as you and who you can text asking for advice or if you’ve forgotten a shortcut!

What three pieces of advice would you give to a recent Shillington graduate?

1. Don’t compare yourself to your classmates, everyone will get jobs or internships at different speeds. You’ll find the right job for you in your own time.

2. Keep up the momentum! It’s easy to slow down after graduating but it’s important to get keep making, honing your skills and being curious about design.

3. Get out to events. Manchester, for example, is full of design talks, portfolio reviews and exhibitions. Get your face out there and soak up the design around you—you never know who you’ll bump in to.

Check out Alex’s website and follow her on Instagram.

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