First experience of working in a design team

Some of our graphic design students had a very productive Easter holiday.

Kyle Lotter and Rebecca Kirkwood volunteered for a week’s work experience with the College marketing team. We caught up with them at the end of the week to hear about their first experience of working in a design team.

KYLE LOTTERIMG_8262HND Visual Communications student

Tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up in South Africa and moved to Scotland when I was nine. I live in Galston and went to Loudoun Academy. My favourite subjects at school were art and graphic communications. Although I achieved good exam results, I did not feel ready to go to university. I had thought about studying architecture, but decided to go to college first and learn new creative skills. I started at NC level and I have worked my way up to HND level.

How are you enjoying studying HND Visual Communications?

I have enjoyed my course and I am learning new skills all the time. A highlight of the course for me has been working on live briefs. One brief was a competition to design a poster for alcohol awareness – I won this competition and I was very proud of my achievement. The other brief was to design a Christmas story book for an event at Culzean Castle and one of my illustrations was selected.

Why did you volunteer for this work placement and what have you been working on?

We have had a few offers of work placement but this one appealed to me because it was working with the College design team. I have had a busy week with a variety of different projects to work on including: a funding leaflet, web banner and flier to promote the student digital insights survey, an infographic, resizing images for the website and I designed two pages of the Student Voice magazine.

What have you learned from the experience?

I have definitely got more confident in my ability. I had a big workload and I just went for it. The graphic designers have been great and given me lots of constructive feedback. I have found in this team there is always someone that will help you. I have learned the importance the College places on social media as a way of communicating. I attended two team meetings and have been surprised by the volume and breadth of the work the design team are tasked with. I did not expect this from an in-house design team. I have been amazed by how fast my week has gone. There are less distractions in the workplace – everyone is very focused and just gets on with the work.

What are the next steps for you? 

I am designing a survival kit for a monster from space – it’s a fun project that allows us to be really creative. We will then be preparing for the end of year show and we’re all looking forward to getting to that point! I will be looking for more work experience opportunities in the summer – perhaps working in a local design agency and comparing it to this placement. These experiences will help my CV and help me stand out from other students. After the summer I will be going to either Glasgow Caledonian University or the University of the West of Scotland.

REBECCA KIRKWOODRebecca.JPGHND Visual Communications student

Tell us a little about yourself.

I live in Maybole and before coming to college I went to Carrick Academy. I studied graphic communications, art and music and so I considered various creative courses before I finally settled on Visual Communications. It is a mixture of graphic design and art and I like how the course has a qualification at the end of each year. If I had changed my mind and wanted to do another course it would not have been a waste of a year.

How are you enjoying studying HND Visual Communications?

I am really enjoying the course especially illustration, printmaking and web design as I had not done these before. The highlights of the course have been a trip to Kelvingrove Art Gallery to see the Mucha exhibition and working on live briefs. I enjoyed the Culzean Castle Christmas story book brief and also we were asked to design a logo for ‘Hit the Bard.’

What have you been working on during your work placement?

I have been designing three pages of the Student Voice magazine. I have been sourcing images for some of the courses at the College and doing some logo research to create a mood board for a new brand.

What have you learned from the experience?

I have learned that you need to work quickly. There is no time to sketch out ideas in your sketchbook – you’ve got to go straight on to the computer and work up your ideas. I think that’s the main difference between the classroom and the workplace – I have been used to working on a design for a few weeks and here, it is expected the work will be ready in a few days. I have also learned more about using Adobe InDesign. These are skills you learn by practising and getting hints and tips from other users. I also watch free short courses on the Adobe website and online tutorials from YouTube. I have learned a lot this week because I have been using InDesign all the time.

What are the next steps for you? 

I will be working really hard to complete my course. I need to get a ‘B’ grade as I have a conditional acceptance for the University of Edinburgh’s BA Graphic Design course, which is a direct entry to the second year. I am really looking forward to moving to Edinburgh, it will be a really exciting time in my life. There is a massive art and design building with old printing presses and camera equipment – this really appealed to me and I just liked the whole atmosphere when I went on a tour of the campus. In the summer I will also be working on developing my design portfolio which I am creating on Wix. I will also be looking for more work experience as I have enjoyed my time with Ayrshire College.

Are you interested in becoming a graphic designer? Take a look at our HNC Visual Communications course here.

Meet the apprentice – Anna Manson, Spirit AeroSystems

We have been catching up with a number of our apprentices to celebrate Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2016.

Four female apprentices working in different companies in Ayrshire agreed to be filmed in their workplace to share what attracted them down the apprenticeship route and how they are finding the balance between working on site and studying at Ayrshire College.

First up, we present Anna Manson, an engineering apprentice at Spirit Aerosystems in Prestwick.

Anna Manson4

As you were growing up what were your thoughts about a career?

I mostly thought about being an engineer, although at one point I wanted to become a wedding planner which would’ve been a completely different route to go down!

Engineering won in the end, maybe because I come from quite an engineering family. My dad works at Spirit and my uncle is a chemical engineer.

At school it was only really the careers advisor who you would talk over your future with. I have to be honest, it wasn’t great. If you weren’t going to university the school wasn’t really interested. They mainly told me to just apply for university anyway, even if I was applying for apprenticeships. They said there weren’t many apprenticeships going, and applying to university would be a safer bet. I didn’t get any help with my apprenticeship applications.

What was your family’s reaction when you told them you wanted to become an apprentice?

They were helpful and gave me great advice for my applications. My mum was happy, but a bit apprehensive about the thought of me working with all men.

How did you hear about Spirit’s apprenticeships?

I knew about them because my dad works there. A lot of people in my year at school applying for them as well and a number of us were checking for when they came out. I also found that a lot of the apprentices and full-time workers share vacancies on Facebook too.

Out of my year at school, it was only me that got the job!

At what stage did you decide to go for the apprenticeship?

When I left school I knew I didn’t want to go onto university and that I wanted to do an apprenticeship. I left school in sixth year and applied for a couple of apprenticeship programmes. I also applied for a college course as a back-up.

I wanted the hands-on experience. I learn better that way compared to reading through a book. The prospect of a job at the end of it also attracted me.


This inspiring poster greets Spirit workers as they enter their Prestwick base

How did you feel at the interview stage?

The first thing you do is an aptitude test. There were three papers – a mechanical one, a maths one and a reading one. You sit the three of them and then find out if you have the interview.

For my interview I was given a tap wrench and had to take it apart, name the parts and materials, then put it back together. It’s difficult if someone like the Hulk’s been in just before you and tightened it right up!

They also ask questions and test your product knowledge and what they do here at Spirit.

The aptitude test was scary. The pre-test that they send you by email is a lot harder than the actual aptitude test but on the day the test was fine. Doing it relaxed you for the interview as it wasn’t as hard as you thought it’d be.

What’s your job like?

It’s a lot of hands-on work – drilling, nuts and bolts, lifting, assembling. I also do a bit of riveting in different sections. There are also robot machines that you can use. I prefer the hands-on, dirty work we do compared to the computers and the machines that we use.

Anna Manson1

I’m at Spirit five days a week now, as you don’t go to college in the fourth year of your apprenticeship. In first year you’re in college full-time, then in second and third year you’re in college one day a week. In the final year it’s distance learning which is the hardest because you’re used to being in college with your lecturers.

That whole structure of the apprenticeship eases you into being in the workplace full-time.

Once I’ve finished my apprenticeship I’ll be an approved operator. In the future I’d love to be in a position at Spirit where I can travel to different countries.

So, what do I actually do?

Watch how the college is helping Spirit AeroSystems with its skills needs: