Podcast Episode Transcription: Season 1, Episode 4

Georgia Maclaren:
I’m Georgia. I finished in 2013 and since then I studied at RMIT University doing communication design and graphic design. So I was there for about three years.

I took a year off in the middle to travel Europe, which I did solo, and it was super fun. I’ve always had an interest in travel. From there, I worked at Stanley Black and Decker for about three years as part of their in-house graphic design team. It was three of us girls working super hard.

I got to experiment with a lot of different styles of graphic design. I did everything from web design to animation to posters, billboards—you name it. Recently, my partner and I quit our jobs and we’re heading on a trip around Australia in the van we’ve got behind us. So, a lot of exciting times to come.

Tahir Hunter: My name’s Tahir. My journey after high school was probably a bit different. After taking a few months off, I was fortunate enough to have a family friend who got me a job at Melbourne Grammar School, where I assisted in running an after-school care program for preps to sixes, offering all different types of activities. Since then, I’ve done a few different jobs. Over the school holidays, I worked at Caulfield Grammarians, but I also ventured into a startup called Happy Ride Care, which was a fantastic experience.

Most recently, I’ve started a new job at Winning Appliances. The first steps after high school were quite daunting. I had some work experience prior to leaving high school, but there were many responsibilities I didn’t necessarily have back then. Picking up those responsibilities and taking charge was quite difficult. I was fortunate enough to have a friend to help me get my first proper job after high school, which was really beneficial and helpful. But I think after leaving high school, the steps really came with a bit of a push. Once you get that push, you just take on all those challenges, little helping hands, and go with it.

Being at high school, probably either from and or having an older brother, having parents who kinda wanna guide you in the right direction, or hearing it from teachers. I think a lot of, my peers and myself thought that life after high school was really, really full on and scary, and you kinda had to know everything and have that idea from the get-go.

And I kinda just realized after leaving school and having those few years since then that you don’t have to have it all sorted, you don’t have to have everything figured out or know exactly what you wanna do. I still don’t really know what I wanna do, but you can set your own path. You can do what you want to do, and you do realize that if you make the most out of whatever you’re trying or working at the minute, then it’s really all okay.

Georgia Maclaren: I think that’s a really good point. I found something similar in that once I left school, I thought it was gonna be, you know, I found year 12 quite hard in particular with the folio subjects, and I thought it was just gonna keep being so difficult through the career or through university. But I was really surprised by the freedom that I could have with creativity and also the freedom of travel and being old enough to have your own responsibilities and make your own choices. Like you said, decide what you want to do. For me, it was traveling for a few months by myself, and now it’s traveling with my partner for the next couple of years in the van. It’s not as pigeonholed as you might think when you’re at school. You definitely have your own life after school.

With graphic design, it’s super competitive. I suppose every industry is super competitive when you’re first coming out into the workforce. For me, it was about figuring out where I actually wanted to work. Did I want to be an in-house graphic designer? Did I want to work at an ad agency? Freelance and do it on my own? It was just trying to figure out what was gonna be the best fit for me and then where I would actually be able to work.

Tahir Hunter: I really agree with that. For me, it was about confidence. Going for your first proper job after high school, going for that first interview, is very daunting. Whether it’s full-time work or your first job out of uni in the career that you really want to focus on, it can be really daunting. What I found, having been part of different industries now and having had a few different jobs, is that every interview is beneficial. You become more confident, and that shows all your fantastic qualities. At first, it was really about confidence, and then, of course, there is a lot of competition as well. You just need to back yourself.

Georgia Maclaren: A desire to travel really changed what my goals were and where I see myself in a few years or what I want to be doing in the future. Looking into the future of what graphic design and work are gonna look like, it’s changed so much since we’ve been working from home. For me, flexibility is everything. Flexibility means I can be in an office, on the road, working from my laptop, in a van, or in a small country town. Flexibility is what makes it exciting after school. You have the flexibility to choose what you want to do anywhere, anytime.

One of the challenges is that you hear it’s all about who you know, not what you know. It was a bit nerve-wracking because I didn’t really know any other graphic designers yet. How do I get started? You look at all these other amazing designers and their incredible work, and you’re thinking, “Is my work gonna be good enough? Am I going to be able to get a good job? Am I going to be excited? Am I going to enjoy it?” But once you get started, just chipping away little by little, meeting one person for coffee, contacting someone, showing your work to someone, even just making work helped me build my confidence to get out into the workforce.

Tahir Hunter: I really do think it’s confidence. For both the last two jobs I’ve had, I honestly had zero experience in those industries. For the startup interview, I went in with the mindset that I was going to be confident and true to myself. I probably wouldn’t get the job, but it would be good experience from an interview standpoint. I told my boss at the time, “I’ll work harder than anyone else you hire. I might not have the experience, but I’ll make up for it with my work ethic.” It was really the confidence going into that interview that got me the job. Yes, I was scared to fail, but looking back, two years prior, I never would have even gone for that interview.

Leaving school is a big step, you are still new to the workforce. When people are interviewing you, they know you’re new to the workforce. They’re looking for someone willing to take risks, challenge themselves, challenge the people above them and do something different rather than just the same old thing everyone else would do.

Georgia Maclaren: Definitely. It’s important to remember that you’re not expected to know everything when you start. You’ll have great mentors, especially if you’re going into a grad role or a startup. You’re not expected to understand exactly how everything is going to work or exactly what you’re going to do. You’ll have mentors and people above you to help you and work alongside you.

For me, it came with a lot of excitement being able to quit my job because I’d been there for a few years. I knew my way around, and what I was making wasn’t exciting me creatively as it had before. So whether it was moving into the van, it was time to move on from that job. It was a bit daunting, but I had a wonderful manager who became a personal mentor. When I said this is what I want to do, I want to take this next adventure and do something completely different, it was met with encouragement and excitement. It was a great transition for me.

Tahir Hunter: Similarly, leaving my last job was really sad because I loved it and I still miss it. But I wanted to try something different and challenge myself. My previous boss was fantastic. When I told him I was leaving, he was upset but excited for me. It was a necessary step for growth, but it was a good decision and a good step to continue growing.

You’re given a task, and in a small startup, it’s very much “Here, go do this.” That’s all you get. My first task was creating the polos that the nannies would be wearing. I didn’t get budgets, colour schemes, anything. I remember going back to my boss and asking if it was good. He just said, “I don’t care. Just get it done.” He told me he backed my judgment. That was a big step for me because I wanted to be helped through it. I realised you need independence in every job you have. That was probably the key takeaway from that job. You need to make the most of the tasks you have, back yourself, and do the best you can.

Georgia Maclaren: Having it unplanned is some of the best parts of it all. You’ve come through school, which is very structured. University is also structured. The workforce is structured as well. So for me, the lure of deciding completely what I want to do and just setting up camp, settling in, cooking a meal, deciding what food we want next, brings the outlook right back to the immediate. What do I feel like doing? Do I want to go swimming? Do I want to go fishing? Do we have enough food? What’s the weather like? Do we need to head south as the weather gets warmer and the rain comes in? The lack of structure is what’s exciting for me.

Tahir Hunter: Having uncertainty really does scare me to some extent. I like to plan. I like to have a future. Whether it’s with jobs, friends, or traveling, I like to know what I’m going to be doing. The important thing is to have that conversation with your friends and family. Set out what you want to achieve, but understand that your plans will change in the future. Everyone I’ve spoken to has experienced changes in their plans. It can be scary, but don’t be afraid to have those conversations. You’ll find that others have similar thoughts.

I wouldn’t change anything since high school. It’s about making the most out of your jobs and life. If you’re not enjoying what you’re doing, you should think about what you really want to do and what you’re passionate about. Life will have challenges, but as long as I’m doing things that make me happy, that’s what I want to be doing. I don’t want to do something that I have to do and don’t find interesting. I want to do something that makes me happy and builds me.

Georgia Maclaren: Doing something that makes me happy is everything. When I was at school, I had a vision: university, then this, then that. As I traveled and experienced more, it widened what I wanted to do. It’s about following what makes me happy and what I’m interested in.

Tahir Hunter: Working is different from what I thought. It’s not as scary or difficult as I imagined. You just have tasks, do them, and aim to achieve big goals at the end of each month or quarter. It comes naturally.

Georgia Maclaren: Moving from university to work was a shock. At uni, I was taking pictures, building a folio, making art. Then I became a desk person, sitting in an office from 9 to 5. It was different than what I expected, but I got into the rhythm of it. COVID made me realise I loved working autonomously, putting my head down, getting stuff done, being creative in my own space. It’s always changing and not what you expect. Take it step by step. If you’re nervous about finding work or what uni to go to, try something. If you don’t like it, you can change your mind. Just keep trying, and it’ll work itself out.

Tahir Hunter: Just have fun. You’re only 18 or 19. You’re not expected to have everything figured out. Try different things. Don’t be scared to do something different. That’s when you’ll be the happiest.

Georgia Maclaren: It’s such a good time to try things, and you never have to stop trying new things. It’s not like now I’ve got my job, this is the only thing I do. You can always try something new.