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May 4, 2020

From University to Blue Stag, Nathan’s first year


We chatted to 23-year-old Nathan, current UX/UI Designer at Blue Stag. Originally from Bristol, the Graphic Communications graduate now resides in Cardiff. He began his journey working on a project part-time whilst still studying – and never left!

Reflecting on his first year with us, here’s what Nathan had to say about the lessons he’s learnt transitioning from University to Blue Stag and the advice he’d give to other young creatives.

The transition from university to agency…

Adapting to different stakeholders is definitely one of the biggest changes. At university, there are very few to consider in your assignments. However, in an agency you have business objectives, clients and multiple stakeholders to think about. In the industry there are different people within a company too, so you could be working with the Communications team who then need to pass your work onto Management and so on. There are more constraints. You need to be able to advocate for both the end-user but also the clients and stakeholders, making sure you hit their business objectives AND create the best user experience possible.

What Nathan’s learnt…

In my job role, I work end-to-end, so I’ve really learnt the importance of focusing on the nitty-gritty but also being constantly aware of the bigger picture. Understanding the fine details of a project is super important because they can be the make or break. But, you need to zoom out to 30,000ft sometimes too, to make sure you understand the overall goals.

Blue Stag is a very strategic agency so I’ve had to learn to be able to switch between those two perspectives quickly, which can be difficult. The equal balance between making sure you’re solving the overarching problem but nailing the little details is key.

“I wish I knew”…

To make the most of being a student – three whole years with few constraints and opportunities everywhere. I wish we’d had fun with ALL our projects. I know it can be really stressful, especially when the deadlines are approaching, but I think it really shows if a project wasn’t enjoyed. If you present a project that you genuinely had fun with, your teachers can tell. Showing that you were passionate and pushed the limits, but also solved the problem and produced a great end result will really impress interviewers.

The best elements of work…

I really enjoy solving problems. Through the last few projects though, I’ve found that what I enjoy more is the ability to empower people through the work that I do. For instance, we recently developed a phone comparison website. So, by collating and organising all of the scattered data into one place, we gave people the power to come to the website and make an informed purchase where they previously may not have been able to. Being able to do that as part of my work makes it a really enjoyable and rewarding experience.

Favourite project…

Blue Stag is really a fun agency and we work on so many different of creative projects, but sometimes the simple ones can be really great. We recently created a silly card generator to celebrate St David’s Day and it was such a cool, collaborative piece of work with the whole team. There’s something really therapeutic about being able to use our skills for lighthearted fun, as well as serious projects.

Top 3 pieces of advice for students who want to work in an agency…

No. 1: Find an agency which shares your values

My first piece of advice would be to find an agency that shares your values and has a similar mission to you. I was lucky to find an agency that suited me straight away, but you definitely need to understand yourself. Think of yourself as a design challenge, understand your strengths, weaknesses, who you are and what you stand for. It’ll make your search much easier.

No. 2: Put yourself out there

Secondly, plant seeds with the companies you are interested in. For example, I knew somebody that worked at Blue Stag so I used to ask what they were focusing on. One time he said they were really into 3D design, so I took it upon myself to do some in my university project. You’ve got to put yourself out there, so I posted my work to Twitter, which they saw and liked. Small seeds.

No. 3: Learn to be a good listener

The final piece of advice is to learn to listen. My job is to solve problems and when you’re collaborating with so many different people in an agency, you need to be a really great listener. There’s a big difference between hearing and listening – you need to listen, pause, think on it, mull it over and turn it into an actionable thing – if you’re a good listener you’ll thrive.

A few snaps of Nathan’s first year…

Dan Sargent

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    There’s a rustle in the Welsh woods that has been whispered about for generations. They believe it to be Blue. They say it’s not sasquatch, but Stag. All that’s been spotted is the odd antler in the overgrowth or hoofprint on the forest floor.

    We’ve taken matters into our own hands and set up a series of cameras to try and locate Seb the Stag for ourselves. Brave visitor, can you help us in our quest to unravel the mystery and marvel at the myth?

    Launch forest cam
    Number 4
    Craig-y-Nos Country Park
    51.8815° N, 3.4435° W