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Advice for students from Design Bridge Singapore’s Mark Budden

Last month our Singapore Studio went on a team outing to the Industry Night at Nanyang Technological University’s graduation show. It was an impressive event showcasing 4 years’ worth of work from students of the faculty of School of Art, Design and Media, covering Digital Animation, Digital Printmaking, Interactive Media, Photography & Digital Imaging, Product Design, and Visual Communication. As 6 members of our Singapore team are alumni from the university, it’s no surprise that we have such a close connection to the faculty.

DB Singapore’s Managing Director, Mark Budden, was invited to take part in a Q&A panel session at the event. Alongside Allein Moore (CEO, Communications Clinic Asia) and Bassam Jabry (Creative Director, Chemistry), Mark shared some useful advice for students looking to start a career in the creative industries, and we thought we’d pass it on to our blog readers.

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One student asked, “How has the quality of graduating students progressed over the years?” The panel agreed that the quality of young design talent in Singapore is improving all the time. There’s been a change in perception from parents who previously saw art and design as a less secure career route and discouraged their children from following it. There is increasing support from families as the benefits of good design become more widely recognised.

Have a wide variety of interests

Students are getting more exposure to the wider world through media and are becoming more confident and articulate. “It’s good to be interested in many things, not just design. Have a wide variety of interests and this will enrich the work”, was the advice from the panel.

Don’t be afraid to make a mistake

Mark advocated the need to speak up, be brave, and always try to make a contribution, “Don’t be afraid to make a mistake and learn from this!” and Allein continued, “Push yourself and don’t settle on your first design. Be self critical and ask yourself – How is this going to play out to consumers? Is this right for the audience?”

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Work collaboratively…

The panel was then asked what was more important – a competitive spirit or a collaborative attitude. The general consensus was that you need both, and that a collaborative attitude is necessary when you have a number of experts from different disciplines working together on a project to get the best results. Bassam noted that it’s all about collaboration in his studio – even if one person comes up with a winning idea, it’s doubtlessly the result of a workshop, brainstorm or some other collaborative effort. On the other hand, Mark commented, “no one is immune to the harsh commercial reality of the need to compete against other agencies to secure work and retain clients. This competition filters down to designers applying for jobs and how important it is to make an application stand out from the crowd”.

…but also stand out from the crowd

Mark recounted the tale of a recent and memorable job application. He received a card from a prospective candidate that stated, “This person is my ideal boss…” and inside it had a mirror. He interviewed the guy without even asking for his CV. It was this kind of creative thinking that got Mark’s attention.

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Another student asked, “What would be your one specific piece of career advice?” and the answers came thick and fast! Be direct! Get to the point! Build networks! Mark advised students to “Work hard and be nice to people” (with credit to Anthony Burrill, of course, and courtesy of a brainstorm with Sophie in the cab on the way to Jurong).

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Do your research

The last piece of advice will resonate with anyone at the receiving end of job applications: Do your research and tailor your application according to the person you’re sending it to. Applicants often don’t take enough trouble in getting that first approach right. And, if you get the opportunity to show your work, don’t show too much. As Allein rightly pointed out, “I’m busy. Show your best work. Show too much and, at the end of the day, I’ll only remember the crap”.

Wise words, Allein.

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You can find out more about the Graduate show here.

If you’re interested in a career at our Singapore Studio, or any of our other Studios, you can find the latest opportunities here, or get in touch with our Recruitment team (contact details here) for a chat. But please, no mirrors.

And finally, a big thanks to Alice Ng and Mafalda Santos for taking photos, and to Sophie (and helpers) for putting the words together.

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