I fully understand the lure of ‘cool’ agencies. I’ve been there. Their websites look slick, projects seem fun, and they come with an added prestige of ‘having made it’ as a designer (although who gets to decide that?!). Often (but not always), they even come with a great culture that encourages creativity. Many students are naturally drawn to that, and there’s nothing wrong with tutors and industry professionals encouraging it.
However, what rarely gets taken into account is each student’s particular strengths, interests and lifestyle preferences. For example, ‘in-house’ is not a graveyard of failed design ambitions as it’s often made out to be. Many people thrive working in-house for large companies doing beautiful work while enjoying a culture of regular performance reviews, spending budget, and a healthy work-life balance. Some people thrive in an environment where they’re thrown into the deep end, have lots of responsibilities with little to no supervision, and become great assets to an early-stage startup. Some go freelance straight away after uni (yes, it is possible, but not easy). Others might enjoy design education but make much better producers, studio managers or recruiters (hey there😉).