Blog 53

Hayley

Last year, Degree 53 partnered with creative programmes and course leaders Hyper Island during our search for a talented Design Apprentice to join our growing team.

Leanne joined Degree 53 as an apprentice last year and was recently promoted to a Junior Designer after months of hard work and dedication. Leanne graduated from her apprenticeship in September 2015 and was pleased when she was asked to stay on with us full time.

We sat down with Leanne to discuss her journey and her overall experience as a Design Apprentice and Designer at Degree 53.

Leanne pointing to a design

Why did you decide to do an apprenticeship?

I was doing my third year of Graphic Design and Advertising at The Manchester College through MMU and I came across an ad from Hyper Island on Twitter. I read the article and was attracted to the learning opportunities as well as the fact that you would be paid whilst getting work experience.

What was the process like?

First of all you had to apply and submit a portfolio and following this I was invited to an interview with Hyper Island. They basically explained how the course would be structured and should I be successful, the selection process of the companies involved in the partnership.

After this there was a hack day – this involved completing set tasks and group activities that Hyper Island set up for the company representatives to assess if you were the right fit for their company.

Why did you select Degree 53?

From the hack day, I was overwhelmed to find out that four companies had expressed their interest in me. This was really reassuring and definitely helped to boost my confidence. Degree 53 were one of the companies that invited me in for a face to face interview where I was offered the position. Although other companies offered me a role, I selected Degree 53 because it was a young company and I had a real interest in mobile app design and user experience and I felt that this was the perfect place for me to grow and learn.

What is your role?

I initially started as a design apprentice but I am now a junior designer. I report directly to Jade, the Head of Design, and my main role involves User Interface and User Experience design.

Charlie advising leanne on new designs

How is the training and work combined on your Apprenticeship?

Well, I’m here the majority of the time and every 3 months I go to Hyper Island for training that specifically relates to the digital environments. This would often include things like SEO, user testing, user interface design, development, front-end development and creative thinking, as well as other areas that relate to interactive media.

How do you find working in an agency environment?

I’d say it's fast paced. I get the opportunity to work with both well-known and up and coming brands on their projects. The work here varies so I often get to work with a breadth of different people. It has been great to gain experience in using an agile process as well working with clients who have fixed requirements which has given me the experience of working towards different client expectations. 

Are you working on any interesting projects?

For the past few months I have been the lead UI designer on the Betfred mobile products which is a big responsibility that I was more than happy to take on. This has led to me having the opportunity to work with Betfred’s key stakeholders where I recently helped to lead a Product Design Sprint, which is a process created by Google Ventures to help solve digital problems, on an exciting new product.

How would you like your career to develop from here?

I graduated from Hyper Island in September and the good news was, I was asked by Degree 53 to stay on with them full time and I happily said yes. It’s really rewarding to know that I have managed to secure a full time position and most importantly i'm here doing what I love. 

What would you say to a young person thinking of taking a Digital Apprenticeship?

Definitely do one, I’d say you learn a lot more on the job than you do at university. It will be challenging having to manage working full time with coursework but for me it was a worthwhile and a successful investment in my career.

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