What I’ve learnt from being a junior designer at Snook.
From the day I joined Snook to the day I leave, I will have been part of this magnificent team for 560 days. That also calculates to 1 year, 6 months, and 14 days. Alternatively, you could see it as 80 weeks, 13 440 hours, or better yet 48 384 000 seconds.
During this time I have been a part of 18 independent projects, some of which have been good, some great, and some that I have, ehem, learnt from. However, all these experiences have had one unifying thread — they all had killer teams that consisted of brave and open individuals.
How did I even get here?
I came in as a Junior Service Designer after completing a UX/UI designer internship for a mobile development agency in Edinburgh. This was my first dive into the world of agency life after graduating with a BDes Hons in Product Design from The Glasgow School of Art.
Snook had been on my radar for a while, I have long been a fan of their work and had heard Sarah speak while still at GSA. When I couldn’t quite take anymore commuting between Glasgow and Edinburgh, I, by some divine alignment, found myself taking the somewhat precarious lift up to the Snook office on Miller Street. It was my first day, and the imposter syndrome hit me like a box of Lyreco sticky-notes.
Needless to say, I got the job. That was more than a year and a half ago now (or 48 384 000 seconds, if you recall), and within this time I have seen Snook change, grow, and better itself as a creative agency. I have said goodbye to many colleagues and said hello to many more, as Snook has expanded in Glasgow and London.
To bookend my time spent at Snook here are some highlights that made it an unforgettable experience:
CycleHack and The Service Jam are run annually and have been a privilege to be a part of. CycleHack was born and bred in Glasgow. Similarly, the Glasgow leg of The Service Jam (although not created in Glasgow) has been run by Snook since its start.
Both these events have contributed to the diverse and challenging experiences I’ve had as a junior. I’m a strong believer in developing ‘common sense’ skills – such as logistics planning, event facilitation, and even how to handle a temperamental coffee machine. These are skills that no amount of theory can finesse, but must be developed by, as our hack moto goes by: doing, not talking.
Wellbeing and mental health has increasingly become a core feature of how we ‘Snook’. Working mainly in the public and third sector means that at times the subject matter we encounter in projects can be difficult to process, or act as a trigger of past experiences.
The importance of safeguarding staff at Snook resonates from how the studio culture forms part of a trusting support network. This is reflected in our on boarding process. Each and every new Snook will go through both a First Aid, and Mental Health First Aid training course. Not only does the MHFAT teach vital, life saving training on how to recognise mental health issues, but crucially it taught me the importance of asking a question that may in the moment seem silly, stupid, or unnecessary – are you OK? If you are ever in any doubt, ask.
In November of last year I attended a creative writing course. I had struggled to even put pen to paper as I had become so concerned that people would think that my writing style was undeveloped and infantile that it had become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The writing course, lead by the wonderful mentors at Dark Angels, reignited the fun that I had once had doing creative writing back in school. I was surprised by the mix of people in attendance – a CEO of a creative agency, a young intern, a full-stack developer – were all there because they felt in some way inadequate in their writing.
Significantly, the course answered a lot of questions that had been burrowing into my confidence since I embarked on my career. Questions like, ‘is my writing “professional” enough?’, or, ‘will I be taken seriously if my writing style favours clarity over complexity?’. The answer was, of course, a resounding ‘yes’. It’s been awesome being part of a working environment that supports life-long learning both financially and culturally.
Working with vulnerable groups is common within Snook’s projects. At the very core of what good design is must lie a passion for ethical research practice, and the notion that no design should be implemented without supporting proof of need.
Most would probably agree that service design is the unsexiest of all the design strands. It hasn’t got the in-your-face boldness of graphic design, the beauty of product design, or the monolithic timeless aurora of architecture. Despite this, Snook’s industry-agnostic approach to designing services means that there is a chance for even the most ignored services to be touched by what we perceive to be ‘good design’ – working with people, co-designing solutions, and putting people first.
This approach has been integral to how I’ve developed as a designer and will be a core principle for how I will approach the many next-steps in my career. Two projects that helped me in developing my soft skills were “Everyone has a story” and Welthungerhilfe.
So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye.
Leaving Snook will of course be bitter-sweet. I will miss the culture of the studio that has shaped me into the designer I am today, the Snook tea chart and the materials shelf, the Ping Pong Room, and of course the brilliant members of staff.
However, I know that the skills I’ve developed over the past 1 year, 6 months, and 14 days will be at my advantage as I pursue a MSc in Global Migrations and Social Justice at the University of Glasgow in September.
To everyone and everything that makes Snook, Snook – thank you!