Why everyone should start off doing admin work when transitioning into a designer role.
I know, designing things is exciting. If you are trying to transition into design from a different area of work, the idea of sitting on the sofa and designing interactions with your designer buddies 40 hours a week, enjoying beer Fridays and all the other hip perks of working for a design company sounds tantalising. But being a designer comes with a lot of other duties, too. You have to report to senior managers, adjust design based on stakeholder requests and feedback, deal with suppliers, conduct workshop sessions and so forth.
This is why I think starting off doing admin duties as opposed to jumping into the deep waters of design might be the best way to go. Not the biggest fan of admin work? Hear me out.
What Is Admin Anyway
Admin work is misinterpreted and looked down on by everyone. It is considered menial, especially compared to the glorious heights of design. What can you possibly learn from it?
When I say admin, nor do I mean getting coffee for your colleagues, neither picking things up from the shop for CEOs. That’s assistant stuff and anyway, if you ever feel like you are doing things no one else can be bothered to do and you are looked down on for doing the role you’ve been hired for, chances are, you are working for a toxic company. You might want to start looking around for other opportunities.
What tasks are considered admin? These, for example:
- Organising various items and files
- Organising events
- Dealing with phone calls and emails
- Creating structures for easier recollection later
We can also include working with structures and systems that were given to you, let them be design on filing systems, as well as reporting to people and prioritising tasks, among other things.
Let Me Hear The Benefits
It might sound a bit dull but there are many benefits of getting comfortable doing admin related tasks:
- Tear down romanticised image of design: I think this is the most important aspect of doing admin in a design environment. Design can be a laborious process. You are not only accountable for the things you have done, you also have to make sure you are organised enough in order for other to help other team members. You placed the files for the current project in a random folder on your desktop, but you know where it is? That’s great, but doesn’t help others when you are not at work. Your filing system should be clear and concise. Make sure the system is understandable to others with or without your instructions.
- Communication (soft skill #1): Answering the phone and emailing stakeholders, suppliers and colleagues will teach you basic interactions and will prepare you for later when you’ll have to confidently present your ideas to people. Communication is key both online and offline.
- Organisation (soft skill #2): Organising sales figures in folders helps you learn the basics of organising design assets in Sketch or Adobe CC, so you can effectively share them with others. Getting used to and accommodate inherited structures will help you when integrated into design teams and picking up work from others.
- Less pressure: Starting at a new workplace is stressful. There are new processes to master, new people to get to know and a whole new work environment to get used to. It takes a while to get accustomed to the work dynamics, too. By starting off doing admin, you will have more time to adjust yourself to your surroundings without the added pressure of bashing out perfect interactions for high-profile projects from Day 1.
- Smooth transition: By doing admin work at the beginning, you will get the chance to discover your seniors’ preferences, so when it will come to designing and presentations, you will ace them. Admin is a good opportunity to get to know people without the pressure of performing key tasks in the design process.
Get the Post-its ready!
Are we ready to do some admin work? Get that notepad out of the drawer, sharpen those pencils and make sure you have paper clips and sticky notes at hand. Who knows? You might end up enjoying some menial tasks.