3rd September 2019
Born in Brunel, Raised in Silver: Final thoughts from Charlie Gilks on his eventful year as an intern at Silver
Last week, I stumbled across a photo of myself taken in the first few days of my placement at Silver.
The person staring into the lens on the other end looked completely unaware of the whirlwind year that was about to take place. He was fairly set on how he wanted his career to play out, but the reality is: things change – embrace it.
A year at Silver
At the time of writing my previous blog post, I was still in the stage of initial uncertainty: spurred on by an increase in belief from management, but yet to really delve into the depths of complex client briefs and showcase my ever-developing skillset. Fast forward eight months and I’m not sure that ‘Intern’ is the right term to describe my role.
I am a Junior Designer in my own right, having proved this through the quantity and quality of my output. The most notable example: a recent direct mail campaign. One of the three initial concepts was on the verge of being taken out of contention, but through vigorous cardboard engineering I produced a completely unique flat design that expanded into a box when opposite sides were pulled. This was the first job for a brand-new client, and due to the perfect fit with the narrative of their data streamlining platform and the one-of-a-kind nature, they chose this concept to take forward.
Having the opportunity to span the Creative and the Motion Graphics teams during the past year has contributed to my appreciation of the importance of specialising in a field – the sheer innovation from both sides is incredible to witness, and even more fulfilling to be a part of. A number of people have influenced me during my time at Silver, but none more so than Tom Storrer, our beloved copywriter. As a wordsmith – he’s second to none, but it is his contributions to creative concept meetings that have truly inspired me. Taking a step back to find that small slice of wisdom is the best advice I could give to anyone.
One tends to become attached to a place when they’ve spent three years there, so coming back to Cheltenham after such a long period at Brunel University was a shock to the system. The initial lack of social life was tough to acclimatise to, and before long I realised that I needed some other outlet for the sake of my sanity; something that could absorb my mind and body outside the office.
A close friend of mine had recently competed in Ironman Cozumel and qualified for the World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, and this was the inspiration I needed to turn to endurance sport – more specifically, the Centurion 100-mile triathlon due to take place at the end of June. This completely consumed six months of my life, from finding sponsors and liaising with our two chosen charities, CLIC Sargent and Mind, through to designing our kit and constructing a training plan, not to mention the countless early mornings and evenings spent on the WattBike, treadmill or in the pool.
Fast forward to more than £1500 raised, some extremely sore legs and a 7th place finish – I will be signing up for an Ironman next year to the dismay of those who barely saw me for half a year!
For those who haven’t already clicked onto this – I’m utterly obsessed with sport and fitness. In keeping with my constant efforts to get my colleagues active this year, it would be criminal if I didn’t use this airtime to stress the importance of an active lifestyle, especially involving your colleagues and the enormous positive correlation with job performance.
Positive effects of sport in the workplace: enhanced creativity, increased endorphin levels, improved general health, reduced stress, blah, blah, blah – the list is enormous. But most articles seem to leave out one crucial thing: the sense of community that it brings to people. Silver Running Club has happened two lunchtimes a week throughout the majority of the year, and those that have taken part are without question the ones I have grown closest to.
People find all sorts of excuses for not taking part, and the most common of these is that they worry about holding others back. Everyone has a physical goal, and no matter the numbers or the figures, no one person’s goals are harder than any others because it’s all relative. The reality though, is that participation is the second step. The first? Motivation. Set that target. Reach for that seemingly impossible thing. There’s no success without failure.
Spending the past year at a desk in one of the most competitive B2B agencies in the country has had far more of an effect on my intended career path than I could have anticipated. I was committed to a career in environmental design and had all but put pen to paper for the Environmental and Systems Design modules for the final year at Brunel. Now, 12 months later, with a newfound desire for continuing into the world of creative agencies and a schedule from September containing modules in Graphics and Contextual Design, I can’t help but wonder how it all changed so quickly.
Silver’s motto is ‘Create the Belief’, but they do so much more than that. They create experiences so rich and so clear that it all makes sense: I could quite happily do that for the rest of my life. My last order of business is to thank each and every one of you that has helped me, taught me, guided me, teased me and believed in me throughout the past year. The nametag might say Silver, but you’re all absolute gold.