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Elly redesigns her career by studying at SAE

Following life as a travel consultant and leasing agent, Elly Waite wanted more from her career. After weighing up her options, she pursued her passion for design by studying at SAE. Three years later, Elly’s living her dream as a graphic designer at strategic communications advisory organisation, Colony.
Elly Waite redesigns her career

Having left school in 2010, Elly took some time out deciding what she wanted to do with her career. “I spent some time in the travel and real estate industries for a few years, and soon realised that wasn’t where my passions lay. By the time I started studying for my Bachelor of Design at SAE in 2017, I was 25, and I had a very clear idea of what I wanted from my career.”

“Design is something I’m extremely passionate about, so I found it really easy to focus on my studies. I think studying in a small cohort, I didn’t feel like just another number.”

Life in the industry

After graduating SAE Byron Bay in 2019, Elly picked up a contract role as a graphic designer at the Uniting Church in Brisbane, before securing a position at strategic communications advisory organisation, Colony.

“I’ve been at Colony for around 18 months now and we have quite a big team of 15 designers here. Given the nature of the organisation, we work with a range of clients including Colgate and Palmolive Fiji/PNG, Kina Bank, Brian Bell Group and Prime100,” Elly said.

“It’s a really satisfying environment to work in because every day is varied, whether that’s designing marketing material or packaging.”

Studying at SAE

One of the positive aspects of studying at SAE was the long-lasting connections Elly built, and has since been invited back as a guest lecturer.

“I really enjoy talking to students. Maybe I can spark some inspiration for them, and give them the confidence to do freelance projects for themselves, particularly if they’re not creatively satisfied in other areas of their lives. That will ultimately be what helps them grow and learn,” the designer shared.

“For my own development it’s been beneficial, because it gives me practice to present in front of people.”

Byron the dolphin

During Elly’s degree she developed children’s book, Byron the Dolphin, which she has successfully sold commercially, including to one Hollywood actress.

“With any children’s book, you want to have a moral to the story, so I created a tale about it being ok to do things on your own. All the characters in the book reference local places of interest; Byron, Lennox, Shelley and Julian,” Elly explained.

“I’ve sold a number of copies through my Etsy store, including one to actress, Rose Byrne, for her kids.”

Reflecting on the start of her career, Elly said that period was key to where she is today. “I took the opportunity to work for a church as my chance to get into the industry. The advice I’d give anyone is just embrace whatever comes your way, because you don’t know where it will take you.”

Student standing and drawing

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