Tsui-Yee Lau | Graphic Designer
Back in 2017, I made the tough decision to draw a line under my semi-professional badminton career. I went from training five or six days a week with solid, known goals to suddenly not knowing what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go.
The way I saw it, I had two options – work short-term to earn some money and go travelling or find a full-time job and try kick-starting my professional career.
The start of my working life
Before I had to think too hard about this decision, the opportunity to join M7 Real Estate as an IT Support Engineer came up. John, Head of IT at M7, called to offer me the role and I was over the moon.
I couldn’t wait to move to London and start my professional career.
At first, I absolutely loved it. I really enjoyed the social aspects, and acting as the first point of contact for IT support meant that I got the chance to get to know everybody in the company, which of course extended to the Coyote employees who were sat across from the M7 offices.
It was before my probation period was coming to an end that I realised the role wasn’t something I wanted to pursue long-term, but I didn’t think it would look good if I left so soon.
If you don’t ask you don’t get
I made an effort to show interest in expanding my responsibilities and asked for more tasks, but regardless of workload, I found this particular role wasn’t satisfying my expectations of working life.
This turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
I’ve always been interested in illustration and the iPad I bought myself for Christmas in 2017 was a game-changer for me. Using an app called ProCreate, I designed a series of Valentine’s Day cards and sold them to employees of M7 and Coyote, plus family and friends.
The overwhelmingly positive response was the turning point in me realising that I needed to pursue a creative career.
Seeing this new enthusiasm, Dave Krisman, my ‘big boss’ and CTO at M7, was really supportive and encouraged me to create a website and Instagram page (shameless self-plug – @createdbytsui) to showcase my designs.
Things were picking up
That summer I received my first two commissions; a pet portrait for Dave and wedding invites, RSVP’s, and menu cards for another colleague. This was my first experience with Adobe InDesign and I spent hours researching how to use it – countless Youtube videos and online courses.
Hours of monotone tutorials may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for me, it sparked my interest in the software and opened my eyes to the world of design.
Later that year, with the new digital and print design skills I’d taught myself, I had the confidence to approach the M7 marketing team about designing the Christmas party invitation for them.
By this point, it was clear that my current role in IT wasn’t the right fit for me, so I voiced my concerns at my annual review – and, I’m glad I did!
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Unbeknown to me, discussions between M7 and Coyote had already taken place – and to my surprise, I was offered a 3-month secondment at Coyote, working alongside Jon Williams, an accomplished player in the creative industry.
I’ll admit, I started to feel a bout of imposter syndrome coming on. After all, I’d been given this opportunity on a ‘who you know’ basis – I didn’t pursue formal qualifications in design or have any professional experience in the creative industry.
I had to keep reminding myself that if it hadn’t been for the hard work I’d put into my personal development outside of the office, I wouldn’t have been given this chance.
And that was it, I had just 3 months to prove to myself, and of course, to Coyote, that taking a chance on me was the right decision.
All’s well that ends well
“So, who wants to break the news to Tsui?’
At the end of the 3-month trial, I had a meeting with the Coyote team that started with something along the lines of “So, who wants to break the news to Tsui?” – it’s safe to say, my heart was thumping in my chest.
It was later revealed to me that they’d never intended on hiring another designer, but luckily, I had managed to change their minds and they offered me a job there and then!
For me, the biggest lesson has been that it’s 100% worth taking a risk and having some trust in your own abilities. If I was told I’d be making progress like this when I first started my design career, I wouldn’t have believed it.
We spend a large majority of our lives working – so make sure you’re doing a role that makes you happy!