Stepladder welcomes: Jacob James

Stepladder welcomes: Jacob James

4 internships
3 months of freelance
2 universities
1 full time Job

From rebranding my sixth form, to presenting a new brand in parliament, design has always floated my boat.

I began with my Art and Design Foundation at Ravensbourne University in London, experimenting in everything from fashion to 3D design meant I got to dip my toes into a bit of everything.

This secured my love of graphic design, so I took my not so reliable Fiat Punto down to the south coast where I ended up at the Arts University Bournemouth. Home of the stag do, land of the elderly and rented space of the student. From being babied, to thrown in at the deep end, university definitely makes you more independent. Whether that be presenting in front of 100 people, writing a 10,000-word essay or working out that washing clothes is mandatory and using Joey’s inside out trick doesn’t work as well as anticipated – university definitely helps prepare you for the big wide world.

However, preparation only goes as far as the individual is willing to push themselves and grasp at opportunity. I for one am terrible at being bored, so I filled my summers with work experience, internships and anything in between. From big to small you begin to understand logistics of a business, the social norms and finally figuring out “hey... I wonder what that guy actually does?”.

My first internship took place in a large advertising agency in London, later returning 3 times more. I learnt a lot especially about big clients and most importantly I figured out the biggest challenge – time is money, and time waits for no one.

Following my love of the intern life, I got a summer placement during my studies at a medium sized design studio in Bournemouth. A more rounded experience which came with more responsibility while still giving a breadth of challenging activities. A much more hands on, idea-based approach, in which designers huddled and smashed heads together until a lightbulb moment was achieved.

After the compulsory first car break downs, I was back in the Punto every morning travelling to the beautiful town of Winchester, where I gained an internship at a small design agency working for high-end clients mainly in the hospitality sector. With only 3 designers, including myself, time management was crucial, and responsibility was thrown at me left, right and centre.

After slapping on the Hogwarts-esque robes and graduating I got an opportunity to go freelance and jumped at the prospect. This experience was a test of organisation, adaptability and the facility to bring my own fresh prospective. It also gave me a chance to work in areas of design I had not yet endeavoured including illustration, animation, and user experience (UI/UX).

Following these experiences I was still on the hunt for something that really grabbed my attention. An opportunity at Stepladder arose to undertake a 3-month paid internship. Not having much knowledge in the property market and yet to come across another studio specialising in anything similar, you could consider me intrigued.

Now having completed this internship, I realise this niche industry has much to offer and even more to receive from the talented creatives at Stepladder. I was given many opportunities to prove myself, from designing a complete brand for the new Stepladder company, Studio 185. To working in print, digital and going behind the scenes on a film shoot to list a few. I love that this industry is welcoming the change into more experimental and creative outcomes allowing them to stay relevant and fresh, making every project as exciting as the next.

After a successful internship, I accepted the opportunity to go full time and look forward to the creative work, the randomly appearing mountains of food, and the bottomless beer on Fridays.

So here are my tips for anyone at the brink of entering the design world:

  • Make the most of your cousins, friends, aunts or whoever happens to be in a design studio, there is no harm in asking for an ‘in’.
  • Be yourself, what makes you, you? No one wants a clone.
  • Like a Scout, be prepared. If you’re going to an interview, research that business, LinkedIn is your friend, and for heaven’s sake turn up at the right location at the right time.
  • Finally, you can never learn too much.

– Posted by JJ