By Kirsten Gord, Early Stage Designer.
Finding your first design role can be a daunting task. Even more so if you’re considering a change of career to design.
Many companies advertising so called ‘entry level’ positions require 1-3 years of experience. So how are you supposed to get a foot in the door?
At Inviqa, we see the value in hiring new designers with experiences outside the design field. After all, UX design is all about understanding people. Every experience that you can bring to the table gives the entire team a more diverse view of the world around us.
Why work at Inviqa?
For a new designer, a design agency is the very best place to learn. You are exposed to many different types of projects giving you the chance to really expand your skill set.
You will never be treated like a ‘junior’. From day one you are an integral part of the team. You are seen and heard and always taken seriously.
One of our essential skills on the XD team is ‘elevating others’. The entire team will be there to celebrate your successes – and when you need help, someone will always be there to nudge you in the right direction.
At Inviqa, learning is one of our core values. On the XD team, we spend every Friday morning learning from each other in a Community of Practice (COP) session. We all take turns teaching the team something new. This means we all get to benefit from each other's unique experiences and expertise.
Sometimes we take our COPs away from the office. Recently, while learning about typography, we spent a session doing a ‘typography walk’ where we searched for typefaces outside. Another session was spent at the British Museum on a typography treasure hunt searching for clues to find the ‘tyrannical typeface’.
You also get an annual learning budget that you can use on books, courses, and/or conferences.
We work flexibly. We try to work together as a team from the office on Fridays, but if you can’t do this every week, that’s ok!
How does Inviqa support Early Stage Designers?
All XD team members have a line manager who acts as their mentor. Early Stage Designers are encouraged to set goals from the start. Your mentor works with you to identify strengths and areas to improve and helps guide you to resources and project opportunities that can help you reach your goals.
Every new Inviqan also gets a ‘buddy’ who is there for you to ask questions about all things Inviqa (or more importantly, where to have lunch!).
Early Stage Designers are included in a current project within their first few weeks, initially to shadow the team. As you gain more experience you’ll be encouraged to take a more active role in the project allowing you to learn on the job.
You’re given autonomy with parts of the project, but there is always a good amount of oversight. This means you can learn by doing, but in a low pressure environment.
What does the XD team think about Early Stage Designers?
I talked to Aleks Melnikova, Head of Experience Design, to get her thoughts on starting a design career with Inviqa.
Why did you decide to hire Early Stage Designers?
Our team is very mature, with a strong sense of purpose, and varied skill sets. For a while though, we’ve been following our client’s lead in a sense. Many felt more confident entrusting their project to a ‘design lead’ - and so we were on a hunt to hire more seniors, and more leads.
But last year, in response to our needs as a team of practitioners, we re-structured our internal time balance to ensure that each week all the leads and seniors have allocated time outside client work to spend on team development and team growth. This ranges from one to two days a week depending on seniority.
This, in turn, enabled us to have the support structure and time to start hiring for roles that may need more guidance and mentorship.
Why ‘Early Stage’ and not ‘Junior’?
The reason we call our colleagues ‘Early Stage Designers’ is that the ‘junior’ label always felt loaded with stigma and bias, to me personally. Early stage refers to them being in the early stages of their career but we don’t see them or treat them as ‘junior’.
Were there certain characteristics or skill sets you were looking for?
As in any other role, we were looking for passion for craft and keen interest in the world around us.
Our team is quite unique in a sense - a job is not just a job for us, because we’re interested in making things, and making people’s lives better. So our underlying motivation for ‘doing design’ had to go in a similar direction.
We knew there were quite a lot of opportunities for ‘just-out-of-uni’ people, and we were not looking for them. We were looking for people who came to design consciously, through a complete career pivot, or just by trying a lot of things and understanding that this field has the potential to make them want to get out of bed in the morning.
What has your experience been so far having Early Stage Designers on the team?
The amount of energy, passion, and new ideas tripled. All the people we hired bring with them something unique which has made our team so much richer and even more diverse.
It’s been brilliant for finessing our progression framework, too. People want to grow, they ask meaningful questions about it, make their own paths within our structure, and make us change the structure (which is always a good thing, no organisation should stay static).
In short, it’s been a great experience and I can’t imagine our team without Sarah, Gian Marco, and Kirsten.
Learn more about being an Early Stage Designer at Inviqa
Interested in finding out more about life as an Early Stage Designer at Inviqa? Be sure to check out this article on A day in the life of the Early Stage Designers at Inviqa.
About the author
Kirsten is a mum of two, with a BA in Anthropology. She has a background in Finance/Admin and started her transition to the design world in September 2020.