YOUR NEXT MOVEOne step closer to your next challenge.

YOUR NEXT MOVE
One step closer to your next challenge.

Industry Insights – With our candidate Leanne at Mather & Co

After finding her dream job through Straco, I’m sure the last thing our candidate Leanne wanted to do was have yet another interview! However, she made an exception for us, so we chatted to her about her experiences with Straco, and her new role with our client, Mather & Co!

Leanne Clydesdale (Mather & Co) and Gemma Robson (Straco)

How did you find your experience of working with Straco in searching for your first major role in the industry?

I had contacted a number of recruitment companies before I came across Gemma on LinkedIn and decided to drop her a message.

My experience with Gemma was unlike my experiences with other recruiters, she was more than happy to take me on and immediately called me to get my information. Except it wasn’t just, what is your date of birth? Or what qualifications do you have? It was, what do you like about design? What kind of companies have you seen that you like the portfolio of? Gemma took the time to get to know me as a designer and a person, so she would be able to find the job that suited me the best.

Gemma called me on a regular basis to update me on what interest I had gotten from my portfolio and what jobs were available to apply for. All of a sudden, my job applications had livened up!

I was still in a place of questioning myself and feeling like I was not going to be able to live up to expectations. One night I emailed Gemma in a panic – It was a mess of an email, blurting out all my emotions about finding a job. Am I going to be able to do what they want from me? Do you honestly think I am good enough to be applying for jobs? Gemma called and reassured me. She was confident she would be able to find me something, and it wasn’t long until I had my first interview.

I was very nervous, but Gemma gave me a great pep talk. That interview wasn’t meant to be, but only two days later I travelled to Manchester to interview with Mather & Co. Gemma was so confident that this was the one for me, and she made me believe that I was perfect for this role. Her belief in me helped me to have my best interview yet. Not long later Gemma called me– she couldn’t wait to tell me the good news and sounded as excited as me when she told me I had got the job! Even now we have stayed in contact, and I update her regularly on how the job is going.

Having someone to go through the experience of finding a job made it feel less lonely, less stressful and more exciting. It livened up my application process and gave me a better chance of finding the right place for me. Gemma not only put so much effort into finding me a job, she went above and beyond to make me feel like I was understood and supported. I truly feel that I have gained a friend who is supporting me through my journey as a designer.

Do you have any advice for young designers like yourself who are looking to start out in the Exhibitions industry?

Firstly: keep going! When I was searching for a job in the industry, I continued to design. I took on projects in staging to keep my creativity flowing and keep my mind on my goal.

Applying for jobs and not hearing back from companies is not easy, it makes you question your abilities. Continuing to design kept me happy and was a reminder to me that this is what I want to do!

Secondly: try everything! When you are applying for jobs, you begin by looking at job websites. But there are a whole host of different ways to apply for jobs. Applying directly to companies, sending your portfolio to whoever will take it, getting on the recruitment sites and using social media.

LinkedIn is the app that was most useful to me. It is important to remember that if you look at someone’s profile, they see it. So be brave and add them and let them know you are interested in their business– that’s what LinkedIn is for, making those connections.

Finally, and I know this is easier said than done, but show your confidence! Show it off as if you packed up all your worries away to make more space for it. If that means making power poses in the bathrooms beforehand (I’ve done this many times), making your friends compliment you until it makes you warm and fuzzy, or deep breathing and using mantras, do it! Make yourself feel as good as you possibly can before you go in there. You can do it! You will do it! You will make it!

What drew you towards working for Mather & Co before and after your initial interviews with them?

When I first found out they had a vacancy, I had a look through their portfolio of work and was so excited to see the range of projects they had worked on, as well as their interpretation styles.

They had worked on museums, attractions and installations on a huge range of subjects, which is exactly what I was looking for. Every project had its own individual message. It is clear they are happy to explore new interpretation methods and mix styles to achieve the most immersive and fun way of telling stories. I also could see from the images that I would learn a lot from what they have achieved.

After my interview, I felt very confident that if I were to get the job, I would learn a lot and receive support to do so. I also felt that the company saw value in having a team of individual personalities and took pride in their work atmosphere. From the discussion we had, I also felt that they had a similar appreciation for the research and design process as I did – we both see the importance of getting to know subjects and finding new ways of interpreting them.

How are you finding life at Mather & Co? What are you enjoying the most?

I am enjoying working at Mather & Co so much. It has been a great few months and I have both learned and achieved a lot already. The team has been incredibly welcoming and has made me feel comfortable, by asking questions and showing me examples of their work.

We have a relaxed and friendly work environment, which makes you want to be there and work even harder. Everyone is happy to help and to be a sound board for any ideas – it is such a brilliant place to start my design journey!

It is the challenge that I love the most about designing exhibitions. Our main aim is to portray our subject so that the visitor learns or feels emotions from the exhibition we have created. Our job can be hard to explain, but the simplest way to explain it is that we are storytellers, and we tell these stories through unique, custom-built environments.

We heard you completed your first exhibition recently! Did everything go to plan?

I have been working on the regional Paralympic exhibitions for the venues Gunnersbury Park and Cliffe Castle. One thing I have learnt is even if you’re the most organised person, nothing ever goes completely to plan. However, another vital part of what we do is problem solving. If any problems arise, it is our job to find a solution. For this particular project there were a few issues that were easily solved with a bit of teamwork and creativity. While dealing with tricky problems during projects is not ideal at the time, I have learnt that it is all one big learning curve.

 

Cliffe Castle

How did you find designing your first Exhibition? Was there any particular inspiration behind the design?

I am so pleased to have had this project as my first. Mather & Co had already produced the permanent exhibition at the National Paralympic Heritage Centre (NPHC), as well as regional exhibitions for Norwich Cathedral and Cartwright Hall. Any visual choices we made had to reflect the branding and values of the organisation.

For each regional exhibition we are given a new space to fit the exhibition into; therefore, a lot of our decisions were dependent on the layout of the venues themselves. The NPHC permanent exhibition has gained a reputation for being one of the most accessible exhibitions in the UK, so we needed to upkeep this. This largely impacts how the design is formed, as we are considering how each aspect of the design would affect the accessibility.

Gunnersbury Park

Tell us more about the whole process of designing an Exhibit. Which part do you enjoy the most?

There are so many elements we need to consider when designing an exhibition. To name just a few, we need to consider interpretation, layout, colour scheme, graphics and audio visual (AV).

We are essentially creating an environment, in a room or building to tell the stories, and that makes every element of that space our job to think about. Having a process to follow helps me to keep everything organised. I tend to adopt a five-part approach: Research > Concept Design > Scheme Design > Technical Design > Build. Sometimes you need to revisit the previous stage to edit while working on the next. It helps to organise your thoughts and see the development in your work.

The proudest moment, without a doubt, is seeing your design built and complete for visitors to enjoy. That is the moment where you can relax and look at what you have achieved!

To find out more about Leanne’s journey so far see her blog on Mather & Co’s site.

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