Sherylene Chan had already completed a three-year diploma in Mass Communication in Singapore when a stint in the institution's media conglomerate as a visual designer piqued her interest in pursuing graphic design as a career.
"The plan for me was always New Zealand. I first came here as a student in Commerce and Law, but soon realised that my passion for both could not compare. So, I took a deep breath…and quit," says Sherylene.
The weeks that followed saw Sherylene endlessly Googling New Zealand-based qualifications in graphic design, when she stumbled across Media Design School.
"Media Design School stood out to me because of its promise of ‘industry-based’ training – something which I valued highly as a practically-driven individual. The Bachelor of Media Design was my first choice as it allows students to experiment in three different fields of design (Graphic, Motion and Interactive) in their first year before deciding what to major in for their final two years," explains Sherylene.
Following her heart and her passion for design meant that Sherylene was presented with a myriad of opportunities. Not only was Sherylene one of five students across the Laureate University student network to represent the school (and New Zealand) at the Clinton Global Initiative University 2016, she also secured a place on a prestigious course provided by the NewSchool of Architecture + Design in San Diego.
"Thanks to Frontier, I managed to score myself a scholarship in Design Management from the NewSchool of Architecture + Design in San Diego in Year 2. Completing the certificate whilst attempting to maintain a good GPA at MDS was challenging to say the least, but definitely worth it."
During her time at Media Design School, Sherylene also won several awards at design competitions here in New Zealand and internationally. In 2016, Sherylene was named the runner-up of The Rookies Graphic Designer of the Year, beating hundreds of aspiring designers from around the globe with her impressive portfolio. Domestically, Sherylene picked up a Silver AND a bronze award at the 2016 Designers Institute of New Zealand Best Design Awards.
So what does Sherylene attribute to her success?
"Given MDS’s relatively small class sizes, lecturers get to spend one-on-one time with every student on a regular basis. That helped me hone my skills and pushed me to explore areas of design that I probably wouldn’t have ventured into otherwise," she says.
Sherylene is currently working as a design intern at advertising agency Colenso BBDO, where she works with a broad range of clients with vastly varying requirements.
"Briefs often span OOH (Out Of Home), Digital and Print as well as the occasional Branding and UI. Whilst most tasks revolve around quick client requests, I also get to work on jobs that see my involvement from concept through to realisation. This means I must be flexible, quick and able to adapt to changing demands. The perks of working in a large integrated advertising agency means that there are lots of great clients which means there are big opportunities to create work that can make real impact,"
"The ‘live’ briefs that I received at MDS helped ensure that I am now able to fulfil the needs of my role. I personally got to work on two (actual) live briefs during my time at MDS, and the experiences with dealing with real clients greatly helped bolster my ability to work speedily,"
"The lateral thinking demands from each summative brief in MDS as well as knowledge from my Design Management course have also helped me contribute ideas that are rooted in design thinking," says Sherylene
Three attributes that Sherylene thinks it takes to become a Graphic Designer
Respect – Respect the industry by respecting the school, your lecturers, and especially your peers. New Zealand’s design community is extremely close-knit, so you don’t want to make any life-long enemies before you even become part of it.
Tenacity – You need to be able to push through all those creative blocks, sleepless nights and the inevitable disagreements when it comes to group projects. It’s only going to get crazier once you’re done.
Pluckiness – Have courage. Try everything. Be open to constructive criticism. Learn from what did or didn’t work, and grow.
Sherylene's advice for anyone considering studying Graphic Design
"How much you get out of your course is largely dependent on how much you put in. Be proactive – do extensive research on industry news and trends. Practice. Experiment – this is your time to try whatever you want! Show up – it’s the only way you’ll get the most value for your time and money. Perhaps most importantly – trust your gut. You certainly are there to learn, but remember – you’re there to learn how to become a functional designer."