My Creative Career (So Far)
We all have dreams and goals in life, often related to our careers, and most of the time, it isn’t a straightforward or instant process to get to that point, but rather there are several steps along the way that guide you towards your goal and hopefully eventually get you there. Chances are that most of us have worked several jobs, maybe not in our chosen industry, and are working our way towards the dream job in the process. I have worked in multiple jobs since I was about 13 and while they haven’t all been the most glamorous, they have all taught me different things and made me the person who I am today.
When I was a young teenager, my first job, like many of us, was a paper round. I initially shared the paper round with my best friend and then took it on by myself, before passing it onto my sister, who then passed it onto my parents who just enjoyed the walk and then eventually ended the round. At my age, it was a challenging job folding all the junk mail together and then walking around the neighbourhood delivering them all, making sure not to post any in the mailboxes marked “no circulars”! It was fun when I shared the job with my friend, but after a while I started to hate it, but since I wasn’t old enough to get a real job yet, I had to keep going to get that small amount of money a month. While it wasn’t the most fun or glamorous job, and I didn’t get paid that much, I did learn the value of persevering, maintaining my commitments, and waiting for the right time to move on to something new.
Finally, I turned 15 and I was old enough to get a real job in a real shop that paid real money! My first ever real job was at Woolworths (which eventually turned into a Countdown) as a checkout chick and I actually stayed there for about 4 years! Even though I’m super introverted, I really enjoyed working in customer service, I think because I liked talking to people and being able to solve their problems if and when they arose. I worked there on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons, so I generally missed out on lots of social time, but it paid okay and I was good at what I did. I eventually became a “supervisor” which meant that I organised what everyone else did, when they went on breaks, helped customers with more complicated issues, and did all the other boring administrative stuff at the end of the day. Eventually, the time came for me to start university and move to Wellington, and while it wasn’t really my ideal outcome, I ended up taking another job as a checkout supervisor, this time at Pak’N’Save. Now this definitely wasn’t the most glamorous job as this was a much bigger supermarket with much bigger things to deal with and many more stressful times. I ended up working until midnight one day of the week and from 6am another day as a supervisor and checkout chick with some of the best people I’ve ever met! Being a checkout chick definitely wasn’t my dream job but I grew so much as a person during the time that I was one, with more confidence, skills, assertiveness and patience than ever before! At the time, I didn’t exactly love the late nights and early mornings, or dealing with complicated issues everyday, but looking back on the 6(ish) years I spent in customer service, it was actually a lot of fun!
Throughout my time as a checkout chick, I was also doing some freelance design work on the side to make some extra cash and develop my skills as a designer. Somehow I became the logo girl, and ever since then I’ve been doing branding design on and off for several different people and businesses mostly through word of mouth. I’ve taken a break from freelancing at the moment to focus on uni this year, but I definitely loved it and I hope to do it more in the future. Being a freelancer has been so good for my portfolio, for making new connections, for developing my skills and also for by business knowledge. I’ve learnt so much about working with clients, creating invoices, doing taxes and so much more that I probably wouldn’t have learnt otherwise. Even though I’m definitely not a pro at those things, I’m still a lot better at them from my time freelancing!
Marketing Design Intern
At the end of 2014, I left Pak’N’Save to pursue my career as a designer when I was offered a paid internship at Xero as part of the Summer of Tech programme. I can 100% tell you without a doubt in my mind that this was one of the best things I have ever done in my life. Working in a real life design team taught me so much more in a few short months than I have ever learnt before, I won awards for my work there, and I met some of the most talented, amazing people ever who have become some of my closest friends! Summer of Tech do an incredible job of partnering students with amazing companies who teach you well and make sure you get paid for your work. I would not be where I am now if it wasn’t for this opportunity and I am eternally grateful! I learnt all sorts of things in my time at Xero, from file management, new software, UX and UI skills, how to order collateral, working with developers, and most importantly, how to play pool better! While I learnt and achieved so much there, I also had a lot of fun and I’m so proud to have been a part of something so cool! If you ever get the chance to do an internship, I would recommend it until I had no voice left! I’ve seen so many of my friends go through the same programme since I did and come out the other end so much more confident and equipped than ever before, and with awesome permanent jobs too! It’s a great kick-start to your career and definitely worth the time!
After my internship at Xero ended, the team was going through some structural changes, so they couldn’t keep me on as a permanent team member, and I was pretty gutted for a while because I had so much fun, made some great friends and did some pretty cool work, but that’s alright! Onwards and upwards! I hunted around for a while to find another design job, and did some contracting in between (which was also amazing!) but finally, I discovered my current job! I currently work as a UX and UI Designer for Crystalnix and I love it! Not only do I get to work on UX and UI, but I also get to have fun doing branding, making christmas presents, creating stickers, coming up with fun ideas and even writing blog posts! I do a lot more than that too and the variation is so much fun! I work part-time during semester and full-time during semester breaks which works perfectly and once I finish my degree, it’ll be full-time from there! I’ve nearly been at this job for a year now and I’m looking forward to what we’ll do in the next year so watch this space!
Visual Media Director
Last but definitely not least, I also volunteer as the Visual Media Director for my Church, C3 Wellington Central. I’ve been designing for C3 church since about 2011 when I joined the youth group and became a youth leader. I was a volunteer designer for C3 Christchurch and Primal Youth, creating slides, flyers, logos, taking photos and heaps more. When I moved to Wellington and started attending C3 Wellington Central, I began doing design here too. I’ve been creating similar work, plus brochures, banners, billboards, working on the website, managing the social media and directing the other members of the creative team. I work alongside my pastors and other leaders of the church to direct all visual aspects of the church, creating a consistent and appropriate aesthetic across everything! I love being a part of the C3 Creative Team and volunteering is so much fun! Even though sometimes it might get tough on top of uni and work, it’s worth it to see how much we can achieve together through different creative mediums! Volunteering as a designer has also been a huge part of my career so far as it’s helped get me jobs along the way. Seeing how passionate I am about design, enough to do it for free, for others and in my spare time has shown employers that I’m dedicated, driven and really do love design. If you have the chance to volunteer or do work pro bono, give it a try! Not only do you get to help someone else, but you also get some great work for your portfolio, another adventure to add to your CV and some great friends and memories along the way!
This is my career journey so far and while I’m only 21 so it hasn’t been long, I’ve learnt so much along the way. Even if you’re not in your dream job right now, make the most of it and learn what you can while you’re there. You might work in retail and gain amazing interpersonal skills, or be in construction and learn about hard work and determination, or maybe you’re in a creative field learning different skills than your dream discipline, but adding them all to your personal toolbox! The career journey can be a turbulent one, or one that takes you on winding pathways but if you work hard, do a great a job as you can at whatever your role is, and try be patient, you will make it there eventually! I’m definitely not done with my career journey, it’s only onwards and upwards for me because I’m ambitious, with big ass goals that I want to smash out one by one, but I’m enjoying each step in the process to try and learn and develop as much as I can. These few years have changed me as a person so much already, and the world is my oyster, so I can’t wait to see how things will develop in the future, and I’m excited to see what the world has in store for you too!
I’d love to hear about your career journey so far too! Has it been like mine? Or completely different? What have you learnt along the way that’s helped you become the amazing person you are now! Let me know in the comments below, or tweet me @hollie_arnett with the hashtag #mycreativecareer!
Much Love, Hollie! :D