Applying to a design agency – what does it depend on?

A young man walks into our office without prior notice, places a skateboard on the desk and introduces himself: “I am Huy!” The self-made board is made of light wood and has green wheels matching our company color. Black foil letters are pasted to the bottom side: “half wild. half amazing”.

This scene occurred just like this in our Gelsenkirchen office ten years ago. What was that all about? In front of us stood an applicant and design student from Cologne, who not only made creative use of our company name with his gesture, but also revealed his hobby. The curiosity about the applicant behind the personal act was accordingly strong – and our CEO Markus Wild invited him to a job interview.

Many interns and several years later: The wheels aren’t green anymore today

At WILDDESIGN, we create one to two new jobs each year, hire freelancers, and offer about 15 internships throughout the year at our German locations. We receive several hundred applications a year – at least under normal, non-pandemic conditions – and have a look at each of them. We can employ around two percent of the applicants. So how do you stand out from the many candidates?

Courage and individuality

One exemplary answer to this question was already outlined in the beginning. The self-confident applicant was able to secure his internship post. With a little more effort than usual, courage and individuality, he stood out from a mass of applicants.

This does not mean, that you need to come up with crazy ideas in order to get a job. Simply the mix of a positive attitude, effort and curiosity is a good recipe for success. For example, very few applicants just show up at our office or call us. Why not, actually? It surely isn’t welcome in every company, but the creativity and design industry is casual enough.

Get to know WILDDESIGN during an internship

Let’s start with internships: We can constantly offer a total of five internships at the same time in Gelsenkirchen and Munich. Interested students from all over the world apply for our internships from three up to six months. Our shared apartment for interns in Gelsenkirchen is extra popular. The remarkable housing option is attractive for interns: they don’t have to worry about finding a place to stay if they come from far away, and they also have connections to like-minded people with whom they can spend their free time after work. This way, intern dream teams from many cultures have emerged at WILDDESIGN.

Also good to know: we recruit 60–70 percent of our employees through internships. Former interns just contact us again after completing their studies. Thus, an internship at WILDDESIGN is worth it in many ways!

What does the job situation for designers look like?

Industrial Design is in our nature and Medical Design is our core competence. Therefore it takes competent product designers with an understanding for complex technical devices. However, our work is constantly extended to include more fields: the task field is becoming more open, disciplines are becoming broader and requirements more diverse. One design discipline in particular is trending right now: UX Design. Our need for good UX design is also increasing because, for example, more and more user interfaces are being integrated into medical devices. Dedicating study content, projects and further training to the topics of UX and UI design is therefore time well spent.

With a generally low fluctuation among our staff, we enjoy long-term employees at WILDDESIGN. So even if your dream job is not advertised right now, we are looking forward to your unsolicited application.

What is important?

How do we select and what are the requirements we set for our applicants?

Education & practical experience

Academic studies promote structural proceeding, which is very important in our industry. When it comes to previous practical experience, it doesn’t matter if someone has accumulated top brands on their resume. You can also learn a lot from small or unknown companies. Your reflection is primarily interesting: why did you choose a position and what did you learn there? Program knowledge of SolidWorks and Adobe XD is an advantage working with us.

The wrapping

Needless to say, the application’s first impression plays a significant role, even before getting to know the applicants personally. Therefore, an interesting portfolio with a neat presentation is very important for a successful application. It usually consists of three parts: the cover letter, the CV and work samples in the portfolio. Especially in the first part, the job motivation should come across: a cover letter that could also be sent one-to-one to other companies – or is even sent to them in CC – does not describe the enthusiasm for exactly this position. With the salutation “Dear Sir or Madam” we usually don’t read any further.

The form of a CV is important, too: we like reading properly formatted resumes. Not least, this also includes a high-quality photo. Resumes are often graphically illustrated to add a special touch. Better be careful with that! Templates do not reflect the applicant’s individuality.

Portfolio layout

Our recommendation for resume illustrations and portfolio style: better keep it simple. The portfolio serves a purpose:

It is intended to collect and present creative work samples,
and not to create a work of art. – Markus Wild

Design instead of art: A clean and restrained design emphasizes content and one’s own abilities. If the design does not distract from the content, font sizes are coordinated and content is communicated appropriately, the portfolio fulfills its function.

Proper work samples

We also set value on the approach and the type of the work. To begin with the procedure: What is interesting to us is the design process, the consciously chosen path to the result. Research, sketches, prototypes – creative paths are characterized by trial and error, documentation and explanation. In this way, need for improvement can be recognized before reaching the optimal design. Don’t worry – interns will continue to develop their style during their professional career. The work submitted should be relevant to the aspired position and, in our case, demonstrate an understanding of technical ergonomic tasks. So, whoever has medical design projects under one’s belt has the ideal work samples at hand.

Convincing during the job interview

Social skills, exchange and understanding are important among colleagues. The interview is your chance to convince us of these skills. It’s also about the language: If you’re hired on a permanent position at our German locations, you should be able to speak German. During the internship, communicating in English is fine as well.

Applicants can be a bit excited or nervous in the interview and
should be brimming with showing me their great projects. They should
ask smart questions and not just recite their memorized story.
Just a natural conversation. – Markus Wild

We like to see that you have engaged with us in advance. Honesty is also important: Feel free to address gaps and problems in your resume yourself and explain them.

Hopefully our tips will help you through the sometimes disappointing
application process. If you indeed have to wait several weeks to hear back from us,
we are sorry. Unfortunately, things don’t always go faster, but we do our best
to send a reply to all applicants on time.

Good luck with your application!

The design-briefing or: how do I tell my designer?
Thinking Ahead Project 4 | infusion stand: Ivy

Jule

Jule writes about design processes and our medical design projects.

Originally written by Jule Opp, 12. March 2021. Last updated 09. April 2021

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