Last month, I started my dream job. I joined the team at Content Design London (CDL) as a senior content designer, working with Rich, Nia and Clare.
It’s not every day you get to start your dream job. So with a couple of weeks behind me, what’s it like to work at CDL?
Who I am
A brief explanation of who I am and my squiggly content path to CDL.
Originally from the west coast of Canada, I now live in Scotland. Before I was a content designer, I worked at the Scottish Parliament in several roles, from internal communications to supporting parliament committees.
Working for the then-Equalities and Human Rights Committee, I learned about the human rights based approach, and particularly the ideas of participation and empowerment. I became interested in how we can help people realise their rights by:
- making information clear and accessible,
- creating situations where they can participate and be involved.
This turned out to be the beginning of my work as a content designer - I just didn’t know it yet!
From there I moved into content full time. I’m particularly interested in trauma-informed content - thinking about how we can make sure words, information and processes don’t cause further harm to people.
One of my other content interests is in making legal language more understandable, particularly when asking for consent. If you’re interested in these things too, please drop me a line!
My path to CDL
After a few years in content, this summer I was lucky/overwhelmed/honoured/all of the above to be offered a role at CDL. To explain how that happened, I need to write about the recruitment process.
Rich has blogged about the approach to recruitment at CDL. As an applicant, I found the process open, personal, and thoughtful.
One thing that really stood out was the interview.
I take things in better by reading rather than hearing, so I can struggle to understand a long question when it’s asked out loud. So I was both delighted and excited that CDL gives interview questions in advance. This meant I had time to think about my examples and make sure I gave a full picture of my experience and interests.
Having the questions didn’t mean I spent less time preparing. But it was more focused preparation. When the interview came round, it felt like a conversation rather than a quiz. I left knowing I’d given a fair reflection of myself and what I could do - which is really what all interviews should be like!
It can feel like a long wait from an interview to actually starting a role. That time can be really stressful as you’re leaving familiar work and relationships for something completely unknown.
However, a few things really helped me. One was a virtual coffee with the team where I got the chance to meet everyone I would be working with. Lots of friendly emails also gave me a good idea of what everyone was like.
If you’re onboarding someone, remotely or in person, get in touch in that interim period and get conversations started. It makes a big difference.
Spilling the beans
So, what’s it like to work at CDL?
We’re a small team - smaller than most people think. We all work remotely but we keep in touch with regular stand ups and slack messages. Everyone makes a real effort to connect, even though we’re spread throughout England, Wales and Scotland.
There’s also a real commitment to a healthy work-life balance and time for mental health. This is my first job in 10 years where I don’t have a work phone - and it’s great! When I log off at the end of the day there’s no pressure to check messages or be available. It’s a welcome culture.
CDL also offers all employees a subscription to Headspace. I’d never used it before but it’s been really helpful to incorporate some quick breathing exercises and wind-downs into my day.
Clients and consulting
On my first day I was part of a bid presentation for a potential client. I come from a consultancy position so that side of the job was familiar.
But what’s different is that CDL has a strong ethos about the kind of work it does. As a small team, that ethos is important to how and why we work, and sets out everything from our voice to the projects we get involved in. Part of my upcoming work will be strengthening and capturing that ethos and making it available on our website. Watch this space!
One of the big differences working at CDL is dedicated time every Friday to work together on projects. Since starting I’ve been involved in 2 in particular.
CDL’s new website
One of the first things I did was review content for CDL’s new website, which launched this week. This was a great way to get to know the team and how they work. Read about how we designed the new website.
Cost of living webinar
My other project is a webinar about creating cost of living content. The idea came from a team planning day, and the whole team worked to quickly bring the event together. It's one of the benefits of being in a small team - we can respond quickly to ideas and make them happen. A few weeks on we have an event planned for mid-December - and we’ll share what we learn after.
It can be scary to meet your idols. But it helps when they are lovely and supportive. With a few weeks behind me, I’m settling into the team and yes, it’s still my dream job.
I’m looking forward to developing some of my interests, with the support of a team who understand the importance of content. I’ve got some exciting project work coming up, and of course our internal projects as well. I’m definitely content.
If you want to know more about any of the things I’ve mentioned, please get in touch.