Can I be a Unicorn?

WHAT/What’s your USP?

Wednesday 21 Oct at 10 am we had a session with Ewa and Nadya where we discussed how we can start joining up the dots for ourselves, get a better understanding of who we are and what we have to offer. This was also supported by the daily task which required us to use tools like Personal SWOT analysis and the STAR framework in order to identify new opportunities and to guide us how to have control over the narrative during job interviews.

We finished with a TED talk about Personal Branding.

Today’s Task

Personal SWOT Analysis

Pick 3 skills/attributes and use the STAR framework

1/ Ability to creatively solve problems and generate ideas

Situation: During my final year I was working on a project for the RSA Student Design Award. The brief was about finding ways to bring joy to train station platforms.

Task: As an aspiring designer, my role was to think differently and answer the design brief with an innovative solution.

Action: I started by checking my own bias to make sure that I don’t fall into the trap of letting my assumption steer the design in the wrong direction. The next step was to dig deep and expose other areas that may overlap/be related to the issue at hand. I have collated valuable information and insights from psychologists, architects and artists, which I have used to guide my decisions throughout the design process.

Result: My proposal has won the RSA Student Design Award and the judging panel praised the innovative thinking behind the idea.

2/ Driven

Situation: Applying to a Graphic Design course after graduating from a Maths focused programme

Task: Developing a portfolio of work to showcase my passion for art and design.

Action: I have set myself a goal of drawing every day which I kept religiously. I familiarized myself with the history of art and important figures of the design industry. Three times a week I would also commute 1h outside of the city to meet my Advisor and discuss my progress.

Result: My autonomous study efforts and dedication have been recognized during the interviewing process and I have successfully passed all entry tests.

3/ Honest

Situation: Interviewing for an internship.

Task: To discuss my background and my objectives for the job at hand.

Action: I have gained a certain connection with the hiring committee thanks to my transparency and thoughtful responses to all of their questions. However, after I learned more about the ins and outs of the company, I realized that this is not a job for me. I have brough up my concerns to the leader of the committee and he came to the same conclusion. He would love to have me on the team, but he understood that this opportunity is not a good fit for me.

Result: Although I didn’t get the job, I saved myself from getting stuck in a position that wasn’t meant for me and I have gained some valuable lessons from this interview experience.

NOW WHAT/I can do pretty much anything

At first, I was confused, I didn’t understand how a SWOT analysis can help me define my USP. One of the strategies is to look at job advertisements and see which qualities are in demand, then we can focus on developing the skills that we might be lacking. But how does that make me a unique candidate? How does it help me find my USP? How do I stand out? Furthermore, hypothetically if I do stand out, then the employer might struggle to understand – would they risk hiring someone who doesn’t fit the bracket?

These are just some of the things that are on my mind. I am frustrated because I am trying to at least a part-time job for now but I also came across a lot of job offers, and I always feel like I don’t have the right combination of skills. You see, I have studied Graphic Design for 4 years but that was some time ago, I graduated in 2017. I also don’t have a lot of professional experience because I went on to do my bachelor’s degree in Product Design. Therefore, I don’t have a lot of confidence or proof to pursue a Graphic Designer role. When companies look for a Product Designer these days, they are seeking a UI/UX designer, which is something that wasn’t part of my studies. Alternatively if we look at more generic Creative Designer positions then we can see that companies are looking for magical unicorns - people who are master’s in graphic design, motion design, UI/UX, illustration, photography, video editing,… possibly more if that’s possible. This new demand for generalist in the job market goes against my initial belief that in order to succeed you have to specialize. The worst part is that I am somewhat of a generalist myself, but I haven’t found the right opportunity yet.

The Personal SWOT analysis revealed to me that I can do pretty much anything. No experience in motion design? So what? Start working on a personal project and try it! How else can I expect to move forward if I don’t work for it? However, I still feel a little unsteady about what I want to do. There is a design consultancy that I love – SpecialProjects, and I have applied for a few of their job offers but it never worked out.

I know that I have a strong desire to address social issues in the world, but I am not sure if I want to do it through problem solving (Product Design) or with visual arts.

SO WHAT/Proceed with intention

- I have taken up an opportunity to give a Presentation about my RSA Student Design Award Competition experience at my previous university.

- I will discuss my concerns about employability with my tutor from my previous university.

- Keep applying for jobs. Connect with someone from SpecialProjects and ask for guidance.

- Build my brand!

- Go for the Student Rep role.

- I can work on my weaknesses.

- I can look at teaching opportunities. Perhaps, become a Graduate Teaching assistant for Graphic or Product design at UCA?

- If there is no position for me then I can create one myself = entrepreneurship.