Erika Clegg's reply:
Firstly, I’d really like to commend the way you are applying yourself to this. I have taken people on at my agency for exactly this reason, even if they have limited directly applicable experience, because focus and dedication are two key assets for people in the industry.
So well done, you should be very proud of yourself.
What I would strongly advise you to do now is find details of up to ten companies that you would be able to get to for a couple of weeks, and try to get some work experience.
Write to them, explaining your ambition, setting out the actions you have already taken to progress your skills base, and setting out why you particularly think their organisation would give you great experience (and how you could add value to them for a few weeks).
Word of warning: take the time to make these bespoke - I get generic enquiries that go in the bin. If you can’t work out whether I am ‘sir’ or ‘erika’ I probably don’t want to invest time in you, either!
Compensation for work experience varies, with some earning minimum wage and some being totally unpaid. My policy is to cover travel and lunch, which I think is a fair exchange since good companies will also put a lot of effort into making your internship fruitful.
It’s worth looking at a range of agencies (you can find reputable ones on the Design Business Association website) and companies with in house design teams.
In addition to these: read. Read voraciously. You can follow a wide variety of websites which will update you on everything from marketing strategies to graphic design awards to cutting edge panmedia campaigns and, if you really love the industry, you’ll find they make compelling reading.
And soak up the world around you, forming opinions (and good reasons for them).
What do you think the impact of design has been on political campaigning? Why do some food companies chat like a friend and others lecture like a professor? How will the proliferation of velvet, tweed and dark greys on the catwalks filter down to the High Street by this winter? What do you think of the new itv branding? What impact can technology have on creativity, and vice-versa?
It’s a fascinatingly varied industry, and an informed graduate is highly employable.