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Harry Shiu

Communication, Art + Technology › Interactive Arts + Technology › Media Arts

Position Title
During my year at Paladin, I was able to apply my technical skills to real-world, meaningful projects.
Experience Details
Application and Interview Tips
  • Research the company and incorporate their branding and values into your design challenge

  • Research the industry and your interviewers

  • Prepare a portfolio presentation

    • A slide deck allows you to show each step of your design process

  • If you have not been asked to show your portfolio by the end of the interview, ask if you can present your portfolio

Introduction + Preparation
Preparation Tips for Future Students
  • Research the company to get an understanding of their branding and core values

  • Research the industry

  • Touch up on your technical skills with personal projects

  • Establish a clear design process

During my Experience
Orientation and First Weeks

A couple weeks prior to my first day, I had a training day where I came into the office to meet with my supervisor and the current graphic design co-op student. They went over my day-to-day and what to expect in my first few weeks. I was briefed on the company brand guidelines. 

The first two days consisted of online training modules detailing company history/values and workplace expectations. After the two days of training modules, I was given my first project - a short video edit for an awards conference. During the first few weeks, I had one-to-one introductory meetings with my team members and people from other teams that I would work on a project with in the future.

Day to Day

As part of the marketing team, my day-to-day consists of providing design assistance to print and digital materials. There are not many recurring projects, so my workload is dependent on current marketing initiatives. This can include designing posters, creating graphics for proposals, fulfilling graphic design requests from our ticket system, or editing videos for advertisements.

On Thursdays, the marketing team has a weekly meeting where each member briefs the team on their current projects and looks for areas of collaboration. On Tuesdays, I have my one-to-one weekly check-in with my supervisor where I update her on my projects and ask for feedback.

Learning and Adaptation

During my year at Paladin, I have developed new technical skills in design. For projects where I want to include a specific effect or technique in Illustrator, Photoshop, After Effects, etc. that I do not know how to do yet, I would research how to add them to my projects. I incorporate research and skill development time into my project workflow.

I was able to continue developing my skills in Media Arts. My supervisor regularly looked for opportunities for me to improve my videography skills. Throughout the year, I led two video shoots at client properties. I have also been able to develop skills in areas that are not part of my concentration. While updating the company brand standards, I suggested creating a new style guide website, which I would create from scratch. I saw this as an opportunity to improve my HTML, CSS, and JavaScript skills. I could use skills developed from this project when building my own portfolio website.

Throughout the year, I gained experience with different task completion strategies. At the start of the year, I would complete quick and easy projects as they were assigned so that I can focus on major projects without thinking about other tasks. I did this for about two months. I wanted to try a different workflow so I switched to prioritizing major projects first and then the quicker tasks afterwards. After about a month, I switched back to the original as I preferred to get the small projects out of the way first so that I could dedicate most of my time to major projects later in the day. Near the end of the co-op, as responsibilities increased, I moved to a hybrid version of the two strategies. I would still finish small projects as they came up but split major projects into milestones and prioritized milestone completion before tackling the lower priority projects.

Accomplishments and Challenges

Throughout the year, I have completed several projects for Paladin. Below are a few of the projects I have worked on.

  • Hiring posters update

    • Updated the hiring posters for specific verticals. This was my first graphic design project for the company. I used this as an opportunity to get familiar with the company colours, fonts, and image bank.

  • Email signatures update

    • Designed new email signatures for all companies within the Paladin Group of Companies using HTML.

  • Office and commercial security campaign

    • Designed the layout of four white papers detailing office and commercial security strategies.p

    • Produced, filmed, and edited a short video ad highlighting Paladin's office and commercial security.

  • Locations map prototype

    • Prototyped a new map interface for the company website, highlighting branch offices across the country.

  • IT help desk redesign

    • Assisted the Innovation and Transformation team with improving the UX/UI of the IT help request ticketing system.

  • Style guide/Pattern library

    • Proposed and developed a website for the company brand standards using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

  • Post-secondary video shoot

    • Produced, filmed, and edited a short video ad highlighting Paladin's post-secondary security services.

Reflection & Tips

Overall, my year at Paladin has been an amazing experience. I developed new technical skills and have made developments in my communication skills. I was able to navigate this co-op with minimal challenges, thanks in part to my team at Paladin. They were always available for help and gave me creative freedom on most of my projects.

Most Valuable Aspects of This Experience

During this experience, I was able to apply skills learned from SFU to real-world projects affecting different stakeholders. I learned to work with a team of experts across Canada and the US on different campaigns and initiatives. These are all valuable experiences that I can apply to projects in my return to study at SFU.

As part of the marketing team, I got to experience what it is like to work in marketing for a large company. While my role was purely to support the visuals of marketing materials, I got to learn what goes on behind the scenes in running a marketing campaign, writing a business proposal, running social media for business, etc.

Connection to Academic Studies or Career Goals

Project work at Paladin allowed me to continue developing my skills in my concentration. Several projects helped me explore other areas such as web development. This experience showed me that I do not only have to seek job opportunities within my concentration. I have developed new skills that allow me to explore other career paths.

Advice for Future Students

Working as a graphic designer, you will likely be the most knowledgeable person in your field in the company. You may be asked to complete a task that only you would have the experience to do, even if you do not know how to do it yourself yet. Be sure to continue developing your technical skills and know how to quickly find solutions to problems.

I would also advise you to seek opportunities to lead projects. The team is supportive and encourages you to do more than just what you are assigned. If you have a project in mind that is doable and will benefit the company, bring it up to your supervisor. These could end up being projects you add to your personal portfolio.