Question of the Week 01.09.09

Creative Review’s new Question ties in with their current graduate issue and asks “what kind of things students need to bring to the workplace that they might not have learned in college?”

Apart from being able to remember how their peers take their coffee and tea, they are just starting out on the journey of learning. But how can they be better prepared? Many criticise graduates lack of ‘real world’ experience, and shun their lofty ideas over practical grounding. But if the universities don’t provide this then how can we expect them to harbour such qualities?

Whilst Colleges and Universities are great for stimulating ideas and encouraging failure over perfection, an understanding of how this experimentation can befit the ‘end user’ is vital for hitting the ground running. What the final year at university should aim to do is apply the unrestrained ideas and experimentation learned in the first two years to real world usage. It would perhaps be worthwhile if the system considered a ‘Commercial appliance’ module in the third year. Or maybe even offer it as a further year for those willing to extend their knowledge?

My response to Creative Review’s question on the 11th August on work placement also goes some way to answering this topic: We as an industry are capable of offering this learning too. The good grads will have done placements and gained commercial knowledge along the way already, or even freelanced, and should also be well read both on and off-line, involving their own blog and online activity.

Despite all the obvious comments that manners, punctuation, punctuality and being open to criticism being touted again and again, Chris Norris on CR’s site echoes my view that “any graduate that takes the time to deconstruct and get under the skin of all media (whether it be high-end advertising or restrictive corporate communications) will be able to create designs with context and find far more success than people solely seeking to own their own creative space within the industry.”

Selling yourself is a great way to practice commercial reality. It’s the biggest live brief you will need to undertake. Take time to nail that right first.

And as Chris Mac put it: Perhaps a follow-up question could be “What does the industry need graduates to know?”