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Each year Sunderland University holds an employability day at which alumni working in the design industry come together to form a Q&A panel to discuss their careers and time at university. This year our creative, Amy Wright, was invited along to share her experience of the design industry. Here she discusses her experience and why she believes the event was a fantastic opportunity for both students and alumni to learn from one another.

When my tutor asked me if I would like to be part of the panel, my initial reaction was: “Really? Why me?” Nevertheless, I went along and experienced the most surreal scenario as I sat in front of current students and looked across the very lecture hall where I once sat as a student.

The questions started flowing, such as: “What’s your proudest moment in the industry?” and “How did you get to where you are?”

The session quickly highlighted that each of the panel members were from different areas of design, at various stages in their career, and all got to where they are today through very different experiences. At this point, the penny dropped for me as I realised that my personal experience and advice was really valuable to students looking to pursue a career in design.

After the Q&A panel, the afternoon was dedicated to portfolio critiques in a speed dating style, comprising of ten minute one-to-ones with each student. At this point, I again began to think: “What do I know? How can I critique someone’s work?” However, as I started to view the portfolios, I saw myself in their work, and recognised all the little details I missed as a student and in my early career that I have learnt through experience. I was reminded of how I used to struggle with putting a border on something in a way that prints evenly, or how I did not space my work well and crowded the white space. Although these may seem like tiny tweaks, they make a huge difference in presenting professional work.

This employability day was an invaluable experience for both the students and alumni. The students were able to hear an array of different experiences, which may inspire them to explore avenues they had never thought of before and think:  “Hey, I can make it too!” It also offered students the opportunity to talk to professionals and begin to build their network.

As an alumnus, it’s a humbling experience to realise that you’re lucky enough to work in an industry that so many people want to be a part of. Students are now learning more and more as part of their courses, things that didn’t exist or weren’t as popular when I was at university, such as animation and coding. This inspired my fellow alumni and I to not rest on our laurels and continue to push our careers to learn new skills and keep up with modern industry demands. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed an inspiring day that by design will make the creative industry a more exciting and imaginative place.

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This post was created on 2nd December 2019
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