When Felicia Brennan graduated in 2016 and received a Distinction Award, she was pleasantly surprised. After chatting to her recently about her invaluable experience working while studying, we can see why she won!
ADA: You received a Distinction Award upon graduating. How did that feel?
FB: I wasn’t actually prepared to receive a distinction award, so when my name was called I was beyond shocked! Like anyone, my years studying where full of highs and lows. I enjoyed being able to explore areas that were of interest to me and have the opportunity to explore a variety of different things that helped me expand my creative skills. Of course as any other student the stress at times got to me, but clearly made it all worth it in the end.
I had my focus towards experience with employment which I think has helped me today with where I am. One of my experiences at the Academy was the opportunity to curate a Pop-up exhibition with a fellow academy student and close friend of mine Abier Ayoubi, which was stressful at times but it definitely prepared me to work on projects outside of the university life.
ADA: What other work opportunities did you have during your studies? How did they come about?
FB: Throughout my time at the academy I was very blessed with my employment opportunities. In my second year I completed my internship through Pacific Magazines at Channel 7, this was one of the biggest moments of my time at the academy. One of my tutors at the academy was a huge help and guided me throughout the process and without him I wouldn’t have been able to have such an amazing opportunity. After my internship I was able to secure a Freelance Junior Designer position through Pacific Magazines and remained there on and off for two years. Today one of my main mentors is the Creative Director from the innovations team within Pacific Magazines Melbourne and she has been absolutely incredible with her wise words and she continues to inspire me.
In my last year of university, I was able to secure more work through an industry that was close to my heart, the animal industry. I was employed through My Pet Warehouse Head Office as a Freelance Junior Designer, where I learned an incredible amount within three months of working there. I was in charge of designing a range of pet care flyers to be distributed in stores across Australia, helped out with perforated signs for all stores, catalogue touch ups and packaging design. It’s a highly rewarding experience to be able to see your work photographed by customers with their pets and uploaded onto social media daily.
With my main aim to further my design skills in the animal industry, I gained another opportunity to help out Project Underdog Rescue as their volunteer designer in October 2016. I helped them with a full re-brand, and after volunteering for three months they offered me a paid position as their Freelance Designer.
My aim after finishing university was to work part time as a designer and part time as a standard retail associate to further my design skills and also have the time to explore and travel. My aim was to have the best of both worlds without driving my creative brain 24/7 and burning myself out.
In the last months of university, I left My Pet Warehouse and gained work as a retail associate at PETstock. My intention is to gain more knowledge in the animal industry and to help animals in need. While I do this part time, I also manage myself as a freelance designer, with an ongoing high demand of my own clients. Some of my ongoing clients are the Graduate Student Association at Melbourne University and Project Underdog Rescue.
ADA: WOW, that sounds amazing! What have been some of the challenges?
The most challenging part so far has been trying to balance everything while working for myself. I can no longer run to my tutors for help when clients become hard! I’ve had to work out the differences between one-off jobs and ongoing work with clients. How to properly charge and working out retainer agreements.
What’s your advice for future students?
Ask questions! Never stop asking questions. Find out everything you have ever wanted to know about your chosen field. Research career paths you might want to take and see what the experience requirements are. Invest time into areas you are lacking and never stop learning! But most of all, enjoy yourself and try not to stress too much because you don’t actually need to know what you want to do right away and you don’t need to jump into full time work. Go at your own pace and open yourself up to multiple opportunities, you will always learn as you go.