What happens when you go from university to a real design agency?

26 Jun 20174 minutes read

University is totally different from life at Etch and my first week here has already gone by. I thought I’d share what I’ve learned from my time here.

Hey there!

I’m Edoardo, a crazy Italian guy who came to Southampton to study Graphic Design for Web and Mobile Devices (I recently finished my first year).

Somehow, my dream has come true. I’m now working at Etch as a Student Designer.

After one year of sending an insane amount of emails trying to get my name in the studio, attending every single event I could find in Southampton and showing my portfolio for feedback to just about everyone I could talk to, Tom kindly decided to take me on board and give me the amazing opportunity to join Etch’s Behavioural Design Team.

University is totally different from life at Etch and my first week here has already gone by. I thought I’d share what I’ve learned from my time here.


Before starting to work full time I didn’t think waking up early everyday would be such a change. As everyone knows, Uni students’ sleeping habits are not the healthiest, and it turns out that adapting to working life has been a little difficult! But, I get to wake up and do the thing I love everyday and I’ll definitely appreciate waking up at 10am on a Saturday more now.


All the people who knew about my new job told me the same thing: 

“Get ready, because working environments are very serious! You will need to focus all day, avoid breaks and never joke around like you do at uni.”. 

Well, I guess all those people have terrible jobs because it’s not like that here! The office is the best I’ve seen in my entire life (you can write on the walls!), the people are really welcoming and the culture is great. Of course you need to be serious in some situations and really focus, but it’s mostly chill. This helps to love what you do (which happens to be Etch’s motto) and be more productive at the end of the day! Bonnie, the office dog, also helps you with a little daily love that reminds you to smile more. 

There is a big problem though. With all the snacks and drinks available to the staff, I’ve put some weight on since I’ve started!


I know it sounds weird, but I’ve learned more in my first week at Etch than in my first year at university.

The whole process the design team uses is fascinating (lots of post-its involved). Everything has to be thought of and have a reason. Why did you choose that green? Why is that button over the other? Every single element is taken care of and everything has a reason. 

I had a taste of it during my LabRats experience but the main takeaway from my first week here is how to start a project from scratch and the whole development process that goes into it. During the day there is a crazy amount of feedback going on, so the project you start in the morning could look completely different by the end of the day. You also need to adapt to various projects, so I ended up working on some web design but also branding at the same time. A big difference with uni is also having many different projects going on at the same time, working a couple hours on one and then having a meeting with a different client 30 minutes later.

There are infinite learning opportunities every day, with books around the office and my own super cool design mentor available for any kind of doubt (♥ you Matt).


You know when you think about a big office with a lot of people working, everybody with headphones on and no communication at all? That doesn’t happen at Etch. Thanks to Slack, everybody is connected to each other, with dedicated channels for each project. Since a few people are working remotely (including Matt), I was surprised of how everyone is connected. I usually have a few online calls during the day and get updated on what I need to work on.


There have been a lot of things that were new to me, but these are the things that have stood out to me so far. Being in such a creative environment where everyone loves the same things you love, it’s crazy exciting. 

My first week has been incredible, I’ve already worked on some exciting projects and I can’t wait for the weeks coming!