Fred Dith, a UI designer, offers tips for creatives looking to cross over from advertising agencies or corporate to work in a startup. Dith currently works for a startup in one of Europe’s top startup hubs, Berlin.
Creatives are no longer limited to advertising agencies to land exciting jobs. Driven by ideas that have the potential to literally change the world, the startup sector is a compelling environment for ambitious creatives to ‘crack the brief.’
Fred Dith, a UI Designer at MEDIGO, a global digital health company headquartered in Berlin, shares what creatives need to know about working in a startup. Whether you are just starting out in the creative field or looking to make a change from agency work, Dith offers a few tips on how to make it in the startup scene.
Wear many hats
In an agency environment, you will likely work within a dedicated creative team and possibly on specific accounts that you will come to know well. Whether you’re an art director, designer or copywriter, you will become a specialist in your field while other team members fulfil the other functions of the agency creative chain. In a start-up, your role will be multi-faceted. You will be required to be a generalist that is able to work in more than one area so be prepared to go beyond your job title. Depending on the size of the start-up, you could work as the photographer, traffic manager, the DTP Operator, resident Creative Director and play any other role that may require creative skills.
Show up and own up
Working in a smaller start-up environment means the credit for your amazing work doesn’t get lost somewhere high up between the Creative Director and Managing Director. But it also means that you have to be more accountable and take responsibility for your work. You don’t have a creative team or account manager to hide behind – You will need to deliver. With great power (as the go-to creative genius) comes great responsibility.
Be a solid multi-tasker
Ad agencies are fast-paced and deadline-driven. Creatives will relate to the scenes in Mad Men depicting staffers burning the midnight oil to meet a deadline. The traffic manager is, of course, an essential member of the agency that coordinates the timing for projects to make sure teams meet those deadlines. In a start-up, the pace can be much faster but the focus is not on working long hours but using your working hours efficiently. There are no fixed timing plans and no two days are the same, so you have to be flexible. I would encourage working for a startup that encourages you to have a life outside work. Which brings me to my next point…
You got the job, now get a hobby
Many startups attract bright minds that are brilliant in their respective disciplines. The same will be expected of you. Hone your craft by taking up an interest or hobby that will help you be better at what you do. Being a creative means being a sponge and curious about the world; you need to be interested to produce interesting work.
Find additional creative stimuli to help you be better at what you do. Photography, for example, will help you train your eye for composition, light and lines. Watch films, read books, immerse yourself in the spectrum of human emotions you can draw from those mediums that will help you with your work. Brand design, unlike product design, for example, is an emotively driven practice. Go outside. The internet and social media are good platforms to draw inspiration from but are no substitute for getting out there and soaking up inspiration from life itself. Your work will be better for it.
Stay informed & do your homework
As a stakeholder and custodian of a startup’s brand, you need to stay abreast of developments in branding and design and anticipate any issues that colleagues may not necessarily look out for. These are things such as trademarks, registering a patent, copyright infringement and usage rights. You’ll need to stay informed about potential threats to your brand, trends and developments in your field. Keep on top of industry best practices but also look at other industries outside of the one you are in for innovation and inspiration.
Whichever path you decide to follow, make sure it is the right one for you. I moved from an agency to a startup because I like working with a smaller team and find that my work is more valued in this environment. I chose to work at MEDIGO specifically because I have an opportunity to make a difference in the healthcare industry.
About Fred Dith
Fred is in charge of everything visual and brand design related. He holds a degree in Communication and Media, and has previously worked as the creative influence for everyone from international advertising agencies to startups. In addition to crafting pixel-perfect interfaces, Fred likes to ride his track bike as fast as possible through the streets of Berlin and is an avid photographer.
MEDIGO supports individuals and organizations searching for leading medical providers around the world. MEDIGO’s easy-to-use platform and service helps patients to schedule affordable, high-quality medical treatment abroad. With more than 900 trusted hospitals and clinics in 36 countries, and a dedicated 24/7 patient assistance team, MEDIGO improves access to healthcare for people everywhere.