June 26, 2017

Harry Meakin

At university, the world of work seems a daunting one. And one I hadn’t really had time to think about chose to ignore.
But all of a sudden, BOOM – it was my final year. In a few weeks we would all be leaving and the conversations about who was going where and how we should prepare ourselves began.
I can remember feeling a mixture of emotions – excitement for the journey ahead, sadness about leaving friends but above all, anxiety about what felt like a step into the unknown.
I knew I wanted to continue on my path as a designer, and my time spent at Cardiff Met had been a great influence in that. But the BIG question I had looming above me was why would someone choose me over the 40,000 other design graduates leaving uni the same year?
And then came Clout.

Harry at work

Working at Clout has really pushed me to become a better designer.

Mike, the creative director of this Cardiff-based strategic creative agency had seen my work in passing after doing some guest lecturing at Cardiff Met. He had asked for a chat so of course I jumped at the opportunity.
That day I researched him on Linkedin (as you do) and quickly noticed the extensive list of top world agencies he’d been involved with – and this, I can tell you, did not settle my nerves.
Best shirt on (ironed twice). Portfolio in hand. Words lodged as far down my throat as felt physically possible.
But who was I kidding, when I met him this guy was… a normal guy? We had a great chat, he didn’t make me feel intimidated or like I was just 1 of 40,000.
Mike had recently set up the agency with Jo, now Clout’s strategy director, and their goal was to create a world-class agency, doing work of a standard that could have come from big London agencies, without the big London fees.
The more I played over it in my head, the more interested I was. It seemed like an opportunity where I could be part of something much greater.
There was a slight hiccup for a start-up such as Clout, though – they couldn’t afford to risk slapping me straight onto a full salary, and I couldn’t afford to stay in Cardiff doing it for free.
Harry in the park

I am in my second year of working with Clout on a full time salary and I haven’t looked back.

This is where the Santander Internship came in – the scheme pays half the wages, and the business the other half over an agreed period. This gave Clout the chance to try me out and see if I could keep up in the real world.
They threw me straight into the deep end, tackling live briefs and really getting stuck into everything that was coming in to the office. The only thing I wasn’t doing a lot of was tea making… however this did come up in my review!
As I write this today, I am in my second year of working with Clout on a full time salary and I haven’t looked back. The keep pushing me to my potential, and I’m experiencing a lot en route, from helping charities to change the way they look at fundraising, to showing a manufacturing firm how to open new doors.
I might not be here today without the Santander scheme at Cardiff Met.
My advice for students:

  • meet with everyone that approaches you with work
  • grab every opportunity and hold on to it tight
  • you don’t know a lot now, but you will in time – good employers understand this, as they’ve been there
  • don’t be afraid to ask questions
  • small businesses can sometimes triumph over big ones – it’s all about finding great working relationships.

My advice for businesses:

  • take a risk on a graduate with the scheme if you get the chance
  • it’s not true what they say about our generation in the papers – we want to work, and work hard.

Find out what more of our students get up to after they graduate with our Life After Uni blogs.