Sophie Karaer: Providing industry experience for Lincoln’s next wave of graphic design talent

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Over the past 12 months, SOKA has provided 2-week work experience placements to five students from The University of Lincoln, The Open University and LAGAT college, and it has another two students booked in for placements between now and November.

I understand first-hand how valuable work experience is for a young graphic designer’s professional development.

Between my second year and third year of University I completed three work experience placements in creative agencies across the North East and Yorkshire, adding much needed value to my CV, which I believe is what set me apart from the competition when graduating and applying for my first position as an employed graphic designer.

Universities and colleges provide excellent opportunities to develop your creative processes, discover new approaches to design and learn the basics in design software, all of which are crucial as a foundation for a career in the industry, however, what they really don’t give students is the ‘real-life’ experience of working to fast-paced commercial deadlines and working collaboratively with other creative specialists such as copywriters and website developers.

The students who have worked with SOKA get the opportunity to work on a huge variety of real-life design projects, from brand concept generation through to website designs and even vehicle livery designs.

They are very much included as one of the SOKA design team for the duration of their placement, with projects and deadlines being assigned to them on our shared work management platform.

We work closely with the students, and provide reassurance and feedback on their work to guide them in the right direction.

Every student who has worked with us has commented on how surprised they were with themselves that they were able to produce work to such a high commercial standard so quickly.

Speeding up their creative thought processes is one of the most valuable assets they are taking from their experience.

Not only are the placements a valuable experience for the students, but they’re also invaluable for us as a design agency. Students have an enthusiasm and passion for graphic design that is infectious. It’s brilliant for those of us who have been in the industry for a while to be reminded of this.

In the digital age, design is changing so rapidly, with huge trends for animation and video related content becoming more sought after from our clients.

Young people are aware of these changes and have the time and energy to develop the skills for these creative outputs.

At SOKA, we believe that we can learn a lot from the students who work with us. They understand current trends and they remind us to keep our work relevant and fresh, so that innovative ways of working can be implemented into the work we produce for our clients.

As our agency matures, it’s fantastic for us to have connections with students that are graduating and looking for work within the industry.

We are certain that investing our time in the talent of the next generation of designers is an invaluable way of growing our company and retaining creative talent in the region.

About SOKA:

SOKA is a graphic design agency in Lincoln, specialising in the creation of highly effective brands, websites and promotional content for businesses all over the UK and beyond.

The agency is owned by Sophie Karaer, a designer with over a decade of industry experience. SOKA’s team members include graphic designers, illustrators, copywriters and website developers.