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Many people, myself included, place a great deal of pressure on the first year out of art and design school. Amid pangs of anxiety around how to become employable and earn a real wage, the recent graduate experience can be a very trying time.

It’s hard to know what path to go down, especially as the options are mind-bogglingly varied. Should I move to the city? Should I go freelance? Will I even get some bloody work? The first year out of art school has presented some moments of “What the hell am I doing with my life?” and even a bit of “I knew I should have listened to my parents and become a dentist/surgeon/investment banker/airline pilot instead of messing around in an airy studio, pondering typeface choices!”

However, some of you may feel the opposite, and rightfully expect your creative dreams to be fulfilled with Pentagram hiring you the minute you step foot out of those university doors. One of the main reasons for this – especially in countries like the UK where you have to pay for your undergraduate degree – is because of our skewed views of education, and the belief that because we paid all this money to gain a piece of paper this makes us instantly employable. As Gem Barton pinpoints in Don’t Get a Job… Make a Job: “In countries where students must pay for university, education has been incorrectly compared to a commodity.”

Naturally, recent graduates who are now indebted to the tune of thousands of pounds have their hopes raised, but expectation can lead to both success and disappointment. Either way, the first year out of art school is – and trust me when I say this – really only the beginning. For me personally, the first two years out have been a bit of a rollercoaster; from being offered unpaid internships at what I believed to be the best in the business, to networking my way to a few places that actually believed in paying graduates for their time.

But now, eight months deep into my second graduate role here at Social, I am finally beginning to get a grip on what this whole adult life thing is all about. My position as a junior designer has presented a whirlwind of challenges, while still offering the chance to learn new skills.

No two days are the same at Social. We support a long list of clients who work in various sectors and require different services across public affairs, marketing, creative and PR. Having previously only worked in creative agencies, the mixture of skills and knowledge found under one roof here is amazing. There is room for originality, relationship-building, learning and growth at Social; and being able to do all of this whilst helping our clients meet their goals is proving extremely rewarding, both in my personal and professional life.

Since joining the team in May, I have had the opportunity to attend The Design Manchester Conference and two awards evenings (where the team have brought home awards at both!); as well as getting my hands stuck-in on my first full-scale re-brand, working completely from scratch to give the company a new face.

As a result, I have a lot to look forward to in 2020. Social is such a warm welcoming and inclusive environment, and I am very lucky to work alongside such a talented team of individuals who together make some very exciting work for our clients. I have already learnt so much in my first nine months here, and feel as though there is so much learning potential for me to develop myself at this agency; and as a bonus, it looks like I’m going to have fun doing it!