What’s your role?
Graphic Designer & Print Shop Assistant at KeeleSU
What does it involve?
My role is quite broad and unusual because it is both student and external facing. We are very lucky at Keele to have an on-site Print Shop, which is something not many Unions have these days, and it is a much used and convenient resource for our students and businesses. My main responsibility is to produce high quality graphics to a professional standard, both for the KeeleSU brand and for external clients. I’ve designed everything from flyers and posters to brochures, signage, web content, tote bags, display banners, newspaper ads and TV Screens. There’s also a variety of other tasks in the department, such as printing, finishing, admin, ordering stock, providing quotations, attending meetings, and much more. I also enjoy walking around the lovely green campus with my camera to take photos. The role requires good technical knowledge, excellent computer skills, creativity, a head for numbers and good people skills. I also have some responsibility for the development of our junior designer.
What’s the best thing about it?
For me it’s the variety of work and clients that make up my working day. Being based in the SU, I do a lot of internal design work for student events, but as a commercial department, we also have an excellent professional reputation for the quality and service of our work, so I have a developed a loyal customer base of businesses and external clients that I regularly do work for. One moment, I can be helping a student to get their dissertation printed and bound, or speaking to a society about a poster they’d like to produce for their event, then the next speaking to a local business about designing an advert for their marketing campaign – it’s the best of both worlds! I’m a person that is big on ideas, so I love this role as I get to think of and implement ideas all the time! I really like the working conditions of the Students’ Union. Staff welfare is important here, there is plenty of support available if you need it, and I have a much better work-life balance than if I was working as a designer in some other industries.
How did you get here?
I originally started here in 2004 as a part-time Graphic Designer in the Marketing Department whilst I was a final year HND Student at College, and stayed in my role whilst I studied for my degree part-time at Staffordshire University. I enjoyed my role so much that I wanted to stay here, so after my degree, I had a second job in a local Design Agency and was eventually approached by the Print Shop Manager at KeeleSU who was impressed with my knowledge, and she asked me if I would like to work for her full time to help develop the design service, so I moved department and have been there ever since! What started as a student job has developed into a long-term career, which I’m hopeful will develop further still.
What’s the most helpful piece of learning you picked up along the way?
Never stop learning. Your degree isn’t the end of your learning – in some ways it is the beginning. I regularly put myself forward for learning and development opportunities to keep my skills up to date and have recently completed the Aspiring Women Leaders Programme at the NUS Head Office in London which was such a positive and valuable experience – I would highly recommend it! If you find yourself faced with big challenges, learn to adapt and don’t be afraid to ask for support from your employer if you need it.