Design Graduates in Transition: Early Career Learning in the Design Agency

Gray, Nicola. 2022. Design Graduates in Transition: Early Career Learning in the Design Agency. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

The focus of this thesis is on design graduates as they transition from higher education into the design industry, specifically in relation to their early career learning and development within the design agency setting. Previous research has focused on graduate employability and how higher education prepares students for the world of work; however, there are considerable gaps in how graduates’ early career learning occurs in the United Kingdom’s (UK) design industry. Furthermore, research has not taken into consideration the complex role that internships play in graduate transition into the design industry. By identifying the process of transition and early career learning that occurs for design graduates, this thesis investigates how design agencies can facilitate, support, and develop workplace learning. Using case studies, it is shown that graduates benefit from learning in design agencies that provide clear expectations and support to assist their development. The research highlighted that graduates often struggle with transition and use internships as opportunities for learning and career progression. These outcomes have provided the design industry and higher education with opportunities to consider the decisions they make about graduate learning. Significantly, the thesis illuminates the complexity involved in graduate transition and early career learning in design agencies. As a result, an approach for developing work-based learning has been recognised to aid early career roles in the design industry.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


design graduates, work-based learning, internships, communities of practice, design agencies, design industry, transition, early-career learning

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



31 December 2022

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

09 Jan 2023 15:30

Last Modified:

09 Jan 2023 18:00


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