What I learnt from Alchemy’s Graphic Design placement student

27th June, 2016

Andrew Fish is a man whose looks and mental age don’t quite match up.

Here is a student (a second year at the University of Huddersfield to be exact) who, despite having the appearance of someone who’s stepped straight off the bus to Leeds Fest or Glastonbury, spends his hours daydreaming about slow cookers.

Andrew joined us as here at Alchemy as a Graphic Design placement student back in September. Since then, he appears to have taken to agency life like the proverbial duck; gliding in to land in a pond who’s water are very rarely peaceful and calm.

In fact, I’m often surprised to witness just how comfortable Andrew has been with the step up. There are obviously new surroundings and people to get used to, but more importantly, there are clients with special and differing needs. There are also deadlines. Boy, are there deadlines.

Unfortunately, Andrew is leaving us next week to head back to the University of Huddersfield and continue his journey into professional life. But before he goes, I wanted to pick his brain to find out what he had gained from the experience:


What has been the most enlightening part of your placement? What do you know now that you didn’t know before?

I’ve learnt a lot in my time at Alchemy and generally grown as a person. Although my role has been ‘Graphic Design Intern’, I think I’ve exceeded the norm of placement work. This has been due to the people in the agency giving me some great opportunities. Also, I think I can now make a pretty good brew. (Legal note: Claim cannot be validated)

What has been the most difficult aspect of the job?

The most difficult aspect of the job – other than relying on morning public transport, was probably just settling in. It was quite a big leap for me joining Alchemy. I went from working alone in my room to joining a team of talented individuals and working for clients such as Argos, FSB and Bennetts.

What area of your performance has improved most since being here?

I would say my knowledge and competence of the software has improved allowing me to work much faster and more efficiently.

If you could be better at one thing, what would it be?

Where to begin?! Will power; I can’t seem to say no whenever someone brings some treats into work. Even if I don’t really like it – free food. But in all seriousness, I wish I could stop over-thinking. In and out of work, overthinking can definitely bog me down.

What tool or app have you used most on your placement?

There are probably three tools/apps I have used most for creating emails, designing leaflets, DM, newsletters etc. I’m always alternating between Adobe Illustrator and InDesign. My third chosen app would have to be Spotify – I enjoy putting on my headphones and zoning out for a couple hours a day.

Has being here made you rethink your career path in any way?

Being at Alchemy has definitely given me a better insight to working life and made me much more aware of my options once I graduate. Once I’ve built a professional profile and gained more experience, I like the idea of going freelance. Whether I’d be capable or not is a different question.

Would you rather spend a year at University (or the polytechnic of Huddersfield as our MD and former student, Phil refers to it) or a year in the workplace?

Quite a difficult one to answer! There’s obviously pros and cons to both. As things are, it’ll be a refreshing change to go back to university and it’ll be nice to work on my own projects. Then there’s my dissertation…not looking forward to that. And now I’m overthinking.

You’ve experienced a lot of change since being here…has it been difficult working in an environment which never stands still?

I suppose at times sure, like you said there has been a lot of change. A few people have left us, but we’ve also been joined by new faces. I guess it just keeps you on your toes. More than anything it’s opened my eyes to how the industry can be. I’ve been lucky enough to witness our change.

Who is the best Digital Content Manager you have worked with since being here?

Why of course you, Sam! (The kid knows his stuff!)

Have any projects you’ve been involved with since working here changed your style as a designer?

I wouldn’t necessarily say ‘changed’ – more ‘adapted’. Obviously with clients, you have to work within guidelines, but I like to think I’ve contributed my own flare to the projects that I’ve worked on and in return gained new skills.

If you could swap roles with anyone in the agency, who would it be and why?

I don’t think I could do anyone else’s role very successfully. I’d be particularly awful as an Account Manager – hate talking on the phone. Better stick to design.

As you can see from our interview, Andrew’s attitude to life and work is refreshing. When I wrote these interview questions, I expected him to give the type of answers his placement coordinator at university would be looking for.

But Andrew isn’t like that. He understands that at the end of the day, you can be the most talented person in the world but if you don’t understand how to bring your own style, flare and personality to work, your end product will suffer.

An agency is built on its staff or should I say, the people behind the job titles. Andrew has learnt that quicker than most.


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