Work Experience?



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Registration : 23 June 2008
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Hello 🙂 Apologies in advance for a really long post! And sorry it's not freelance related but could do with some feedback.

I'm a graphic designer with 10 years' experience. I work 4 days a week flexitime, on average full time hours, and don't work on Friday (although it's the busiest day of my week at the moment!). I run my own fledgling business in my spare time but we're investing all we can into it at the moment and certainly not making money to live off.

Anyway - the last 5 years I've been PC based using CorelDraw as the main package, but am fully proficient in Photoshop and do use Illustrator and InDesign from time to time, not on the same level as Corel of course. This reflects the usage of the other staff who don't want the hassle of 'changing' to Adobe and wouldn't amend stuff I'd set in those programs, Corel is also the most up to date software. So I don't have a lot of experience in those. I did a Dreamweaver course a few years back, my Flash course was cancelled right before it began (low student numbers) and since then I've not found anywhere local for the right price (or on the right day) to do more courses to get software experience. Doesn't help that I'm PC based at home and can't afford a Mac or software. I find online tutorials no substitute for real experience although I do try. The work I do in the office is not greatly challenging and quick turnaround with not a lot of creativity asked for or needed (they just tend to want something basic for a few quid, don't like paying for design!).

My confidence isn't great, I have been family oriented for the past 3 years (raising my daughter) and I feel I've really fallen by the wayside and no-one wants to employ me - this has been really noticeable since I had my daughter, not that workplaces would discriminate of course! Even my own boss said he would not employ someone whom he thought would have kids. Most places are of course Mac based with the Adobe suite in common usage. I've only managed to get one interview in the past few months from many job applications - I've been looking on and off for years with no luck. The interviewer made a really nasty comment, basically saying I wasn't worth the money I was being paid and that he was looking to employ someone on peanuts compared to me with better portfolios. That hurt.

Years ago I took a 50% pay cut just to get my foot on the ladder. These days, with mortgage and childcare I can't afford for such drastic measures. And besides which, I have so much experience and it's not just the graphic design that has earned me my salary; it's the hard work, commitment, attention to detail, professionalism, great customer service, maturity, organisational skills etc. I'm a great all-rounder, but try explaining all that in a single cover letter and CV - anyone can type that, even if they are blagging.

The only way I feel I can get back up to speed is to do some work experience. I thought about contacting some local web & graphic design firms to see if they'd take me on for one day per week. That way I could prove I was a fast learner, willing and able, and not only would they get some design help, in return I would also gain the experience and it would (hopefully) give me more confidence and self-worth. And perhaps lead to a permanent paid job.

Do you think a design firm would be interested in this sort of thing? Did any of the companies you used to work for take on board work experience, and not just for making brews and sweeping floors? I mean, I was worried at 29 it might make me look desperate, as it's usually young school leavers who do this sort of thing.

Sorry to have waffled on and congratulations on getting to the end and not passing out!

Louise x

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