Fast Facts

Alexander Younger
  • Concordia University
  • Upper Canada College
Work History

First Thoughts

So, it happened. After two months of meeting agency people and thinking “yep, this is probably not the thing for me”, Alexander Younger walks in and starts talking about Design Lab. And then I start looking at Design Lab’s work. and then… I realize that for the first time I can imagine myself at this agency. That it might just be what you’d call a “fit” for me.

Maybe it’s the green initiatives the company has instituted, or the wide variety of clients that they work with (sidenote: I wonder if the Laura Secord account comes with a chocolate allowance). It could be the almost 25 years the company has been in business, or just the overall quality of the work being produced. Either way – I could see myself going through the rigorous interview process.

I honestly never thought that would happen because the entire point of being in this program (for me, at least) is to gain some hard skills that I can use while pursuing music. Turns out this may be turning into a bit more of a passion than I had bargained for. I really liked Alexander Younger’s entire approach to the idea of finding a job – that it’s less about getting hired and more about finding where you fit. Finding a culture and community that match you. It’s almost like that Blind Melon video for No Rain – you can’t make yourself fit in where you don’t. You just have to find some other bees that are like you.

Thoughts on School

Mr. Younger’s take on what it means to be in this program was surprisingly less academic and more social than I would’ve guessed. His advice ranged from using the opportunity to build our portfolio (so yes, academic) to getting to know our classmates and understanding the job paradox (a bit more on that later). The overall feeling I really got from him was that companies hire Sheridan grads not necessarily because we are the most knowledgable or the best trained (which, we are, but besides that point …), they hire Sheridan grads because working with and learning from the calibre of talent this community encompasses sets us up for great things. That getting to spend 10 hours a week with Gillian or Sibylle or John (or you, Sheila 🙂 ) does more than teach us about the disciplines we’re studying – we’re spending time with some of the best and brightest in our field. It’s almost like through osmosis this program passes on ancient wisdom (lol I laughed while I typed that one, even though I half believe that may be the truth).

Finding the Right Job

#1. Do the Research

  • Excellent opportunity – use it
  • Employers will look at what you did here – every project counts, especially if your portfolio is light
  • Get to know your classmates – they are all going places and will make great future contacts
    • Only as good as your name – both as an individual and a company
    • Simple is really hard
  • Getting a Job Paradox: Looking to Build Experience // Applying for a Job // Getting rejected due to lack of experience
Again, this is some advice we’ve heard from other presenters but the more it’s reiterated, the more I believe it. Doing research on a company provides two-fold benefit: the first being if you think your own style and abilities match the work being done, and the second being the inspirational quality of said work. When looking at Design Lab’s projects, I realized that while my current design ability may not be at par with what finished products look like – but, it inspired me to get my level there.

#2. Cover Letter

I come from a business background with standardized cover letters that follow an A-B-C type formula: standardized paragraphs, 3 points about yourself that make you seem interesting to the employer and dropping information you’ve researched about the firm before signing off. I’m so glad that AY’s approach is more genuine – that the best way is to be yourself.
  • Short & Sweet
  • Give the reader a reason to like you
  • Be memorable in the right ways
  • Send something unique
  • Write a good resume

#3. Prepare Your Portfolio

  • Make it nice
  • Showcase breadth of skills & experience
  • Keep it clean and professional – don’t get edgy or cool
  • Include process work as well as finish pieces
  • Be careful of your personal brand – be conscientious of what you’re posting/sharing
Apart from putting together a portfolio to apply to this program, I have little to no experience in how to put together a professional portfolio. Including process work is a great idea (which I completely intend on using).

#4. The Interview Process

Interviews are a doozy. You never really know what you’re walking into. Fortunately for me, I got some practice in university when applying to co-op jobs (my first placement took me 15 applications, 7 hellish interviews and one 3-part interview to land. phew). The biggest piece of advice I drew from this portion was the technology bit – having an interesting portfolio set up in an iPad is definitely more fun than having printed copies of your work. Duly noted.
  • Phone Interview – important to bring up portfolio pieces/find common ground
  • Interview process shouldn’t be one sided
  • Ask who’s going to be in the interview – team members, heads of different departments, etc
  • Don’t chew gum in the interview!!!
  • Don’t wear sunglasses
  • No slogan t-shirts
  • No heavy cologne or perfume
  • Use your technology

#5. After the Interview

  • Write a Thank You Note
  • Write down any additional questions for the next interview
  • Keep On Interviewing
Again, this reiterates some knowledge I already have about the interview process… a good thank you note may be the key to sealing the deal. If you’re able to connect with the interviewer during the process, a thank you note can be the best gentle reminder of that connection. That’s what got me into Universal, which introduced me to Photoshop, which ultimately lead me here 🙂

What I Got

Overall, I got a lot out of this one. I found an agency I want to learn more about, some tips for the interviewing process that weren’t already in my arsenal of knowledge and a better understanding of what makes Sheridan so special. After the presentation, I nipped up to the front of the room to ask Alexander Younger about his musical preferences when he told me the best musical policy any office has ever implemented. Apparently at Design Lab everyone has access to a Rdio account and they take turns picking the overhead music!!! The dream people: the dream.

In terms of personal musical tastes, AY said he ranged from the Black Keys to the Black Eyed Peas (great alliteration)… however, his poison of choice when buckling down to get through something was something along the lines of Broken Social Scene. Which begs the question… I wonder if he knows if Ben Feist is Leslie Feist’s brother for sure or not?! I guess we’ll have to find out.