Hayley Littlejohn

When Olly met Hayley

Olly asked the 22-year old photographer and graphic designer to tell us 10 things you won’t learn in the classroom.

Did you know what you wanted to be when you were at school?

Not really, it wasn’t until year 11 and 12 when I discovered my passion for graphic design. I wasn’t even very good at it back then. I just knew there was a passion there that I could grow. I didn’t know very much about the industry either. I was more focused on letting this passion take me places.

What were your favourite subjects?

Definitely art, I loved the freedom to be able to experiment with different techniques and explore ideas and themes that really interested me. I also loved Visual Communication Design because it was a way to use my problem-solving skills to benefit the end users.

What was the best thing about going to high school?

I was the only one from my primary school to go to my high school and I found it really hard to fit in. The one thing that I really took away from high school is to stay true to your authentic self, as cliché as it is, there’s a reason why people say it so often! Being your authentic self helps you find those true friends.

Secondly, use your time at high school to grow and learn. You don’t have to be perfect and get straight A’s or be popular. Use that time to find your passions, make lifelong connections with friends and grow as an individual both mentally and physically.

When did you decide to study design?

I think I decided in year 11, when I discovered my passion for designing for others. I felt that I could make a really positive contribution to the world through my creative thinking skills.

Where did you study?

I studied at Swinburne University of Technology, I did a Bachelor of Design majoring in communication design and photomedia. It was a great place to start from the bottom and work my way up at my own pace.

Do you recommend studying outside of school as well?

Absolutely! The great thing about technology is that we have a world at our fingertips, anything you want to learn outside of school you can do on a computer or tablet! When I was struggling to keep up with my classmates in my course, I would often do extra research of how-to videos on specific design techniques.  I would also practice the skills I learnt in my previous classes at university in the holidays to keep improving my techniques.

What’s the best thing about going to university?

It’s a world of knowledge at your fingertips. I can’t put into words how much I grew as a creative and a person at university. Being at university enables you to really chase your passions.

How did you land your first job and what’s it like working as part of a marketing team?

I was actually recommended to take up the opportunity by a friend. I was extremely worried my abilities weren’t up to scratch, but I took the risk despite my anxiety and I got it! So, it’s always worth giving it a shot, the worst thing that can happen is that they say no.

At first, I felt really overwhelmed, as I think many graduates feel. I wasn’t in a familiar industry, so I learnt a lot on the job. I have grown immensely as a creator and have enjoyed working with a fantastic team of enthusiastic marketing experts.

What advice do you have for young girls about part-time work and work experience?

Be fearless, everyone makes mistakes, but they’re just learning curves. Be adaptable too. New skills are never a bad thing, they can open up so many doors, and who knows, you may find a new passion or career path from it! Lastly, stick to your values, whether it’s having courage to speak up, being kind to others or doing jobs to the best of your ability.

Do you have any advice for young girls who have no idea what sort of work they might do in the future?

I was extremely lucky to find my passion very early on, but in terms of career path, my vision is constantly changing. With every new experience I have or new skill I gain, I open up a possibility for a new path. So, the more you try, the more you will discover what you like and don’t like.

Many people I know didn’t know what they wanted to do in high school, and even in university they were still unsure. It doesn’t make you less of a person, it just means you haven’t found that fire in your belly yet. It may take some time to find it, or what you want to do might not even exist yet, but never give up on finding that fire, because when you do, you become unstoppable.


Job: Photographer & Graphic Designer
Industry: Design