Blog 53

Anthony Cook

Recently I was asked to do something that, 18 months ago, I would never have imagined doing; I was tasked with finding the Design Team’s new apprentice.

To say I was shocked is an understatement. I have no experience interviewing people. But Degree 53 is the kind of place that will give you this kind of opportunity.

The first thing I wanted to do was look at our potential candidates.

Jade, our Head of Design and I sat down and ran through them one by one. We weren’t looking for amazing skills; after all they were only aged 18-25. We just wanted to find someone who was willing to learn and work hard, someone who was motivated, and someone who would fit in with the team. We wanted a person we could mentor and help them grow as a designer. Wanted to give them an opportunity they might not get elsewhere.

We looked at their CVs and portfolios and I made a note of a few that stood out. During the day I would get the opportunity to interview them but I didn’t know what questions to ask so Jade gave me a list of standard interview questions that I’ve heard before, but all important to help find the most suitable person. She advised me to try and keep the mood light and reminded me that they would be more nervous than I would be. I’m sure that was the case but I was still quite anxious.

The day came and Hyper Island awaited. I got there pretty early and mingled with a couple of other employers. It was interesting to talk to people from other agencies and my anxiety soon disappeared. We were introduced to the candidates and them to us.

Apprentice workshop

In the morning we held a few separate workshops. The first was a sort of reverse User Story task. The second was designing an app wallet. The third, our workshop, involved designing a solution for Transport for Greater Manchester. It was perfect for me. They could come up with an app, a website or both. Whatever these young minds thought was best. They had personas, they knew who they were designing this solution for.

It was hard not to guide them, “Have you thought of this…” I would say. I had to remind myself a few times that this wasn’t my task, it was theirs. It was their opportunity to show me their creativity, their ability to think outside the box, to consider every part of the brief. They came up with some great ideas that involved GPS, iBeacons, Augmented Reality and Wearable Tech. They were all bustling with enthusiasm and it was great to see fresh minds and new ideas.

In the afternoon I interviewed the few Jade and I had identified. I grabbed my pre-rehearsed questions and got stuck in. “what’s your preferred design software?”… “What’s your favourite font?”… “Would you change any of your artwork?”

They showed me their work, we chatted a little and then they were quickly shuffled off to their next interview. Like some form of speed dating!

I got all the information from them I needed; I knew who was right for us. I also had the perfect answer for when they asked “What is it like to work for Degree 53?” My response to that question was this…

“Degree 53 is a place where you are given the opportunity to work in an award winning team, with some truly talented people on a daily basis, who are passionate about what they do. You will be given the time and understanding to develop your skills on some unique projects. You will be given a chance.”

I also mentioned our recent trip to Marbella a few times. Even some of the other employers that were there seemed a little jealous!

We offered the opportunity to Leanne because I was impressed with her attitude, her work, her understanding of UX and her motivation and willingness to learn. We’re happy to say that she accepted and soon she will benefit from all the experience and guidance we will give her.

What a unique experience for me, and one I can’t imagine being given to a Junior Designer anywhere else.

This is why I love where I work.

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