Recently, Pistachio Director Marie was asked by the good folks at Notts College to participate in an interview for their careers hub. Due to the current restrictions imposed by the pandemic, students are unable to undertake work experience, therefore the college has taken the initiative to create a resource library full of interviews with local business owners. Ranging from advice on qualifications to creative inspiration and resources (plus what it’s really like to run a business) Marie shared her insights with the next generation of designers who are no doubt eagerly anticipating the first steps they’ll take into their prospective careers.

Now, as we’re so lovely and generous here at Pistachio we thought it would be a shame not share some of Marie’s shiny pearls of wisdom with you as well. Whether you’re a designer, a student, a parent of either of the aforementioned, or you’re just looking for a better understanding of what’s it like to work within a creative agency, why not take a quick spin through our hot-takes below…

Marie on…qualifications and training

Discussing her own path to becoming a graphic designer, and later Creative Director and business owner of Pistachio, Marie had these key points to share:

“I felt that a vocational qualification was a better option for me and can often better prepare you for the real world – especially when it comes to design. I could have embarked on a longer degree course but that would have added on another year of study that was essentially writing about design rather than actually doing design. For me, vocational training, followed by hands-on job experience, was the best path to finding my feet as a designer.”

Marie on…running a business

Little over 16 years ago Marie, alongside two other friends, set up Pistachio. Now, together with original business partner Paul, they run a successful creative agency – but have purposely chosen to break the mould from the typical ‘agency’ set-up.

“We started from scratch and have steadily built a successful business up over 16 years – there’s been up and downs but ultimately we’ve built a business around what we believed was important. From day one we decided that we wouldn’t be an industry-specific agency. Not only does this future-proof the business from downturns (i.e. a global pandemic) it also makes it a lot more interesting for our team to work on a variety of different industries.

“ The most important thing I learned from working for someone else was how not to run a business, which is why at Pistachio we don’t have a hierarchal staff structure – myself and Paul very much work on the ground as part of the team. It can be tough now everyone is home-based, but I find having a little dance at some point throughout the day usually helps to lift the mood.”

Marie on…joining a team

It can be overwhelming when searching for your first, or next, job, especially when the market can seem saturated or non-existent. Here Marie shares some top tips on what is, and what isn’t, key when looking to impress a new potential work place.

“When I was looking for work fresh out of college the best advice I was given was to ‘stand out.’ So, I took the yellow pages and sent out my CV to every company I could find, but I made sure that what I was saying, or sending, was something a little bit different and creative.”

“I’ve interviewed a lot of people, and for me it’s not about the piece of paper, it’s whether you’ll fit well into the team. To work with us you have to have a good sense of humour, so that’s one of the first things I look for. Qualifications get you a foot in the door, but making a good first impression is really the key.”

Marie on…design inspiration and resources

As a designer, or any creative, staying inspired and engaged with current trends and practices is essential. Luckily for Marie, she has a pretty easy-to-follow solution to staying resourceful.

“As I’m dyslexic many articles and reading materials simply do not work for me, therefore I find video is the easiest and most effective way to digest important information. Personally, I find that you can’t really beat YouTube as a reliable creative resource. You can literally find how to do anything on there, and it’s free! I’d advise trying not to get too caught up in the latest platforms or resources that can be often be hectic and unreliable, instead don’t forget to draw inspiration from the world around you – even if it’s just the packaging at Tesco.”

Thanks for reading. If you’d like to know more about how good design can help impact your business or next marketing camping, simply get in touch – we’d love to hear from you.