Ulster University helped me achieve my current career success by...
Research and presentation: At UUb we undertook some lessons which involved researching a given topic be it a trend or designer. Through these classes I was able to build on skills that benefit me immeasurably in my work life. At first i struggled to stand up in front of a room full of my peers and talk mainly down to a lack of self confidence but as time went on and i presented more regularly my confidence grew and with that the message i was trying to deliver improved and became believable. As a designer you must be able to demonstrate the ability to present with integrity and ultimately engage your audience.
Activities I was involved in at Ulster to enhance my employability
Drawing: drawing for me is an essential part of what I do every day, whether its sketching with a pencil or rendering using photoshop and also illustrator this paired with solid works allows me to convey the message I want to deliver to the best of ,my ability. This is critical as a designer as firstly you have to come up with a great idea but also execute it and make it understandable to people who do not posses as much imagination. I learnt all of these skills at a base level when starting university and i stand by the basics of what i learnt, everyday.
How placement enhanced my employability
I didn't do a placement year, which I regret slightly as I struggled to find a job when I left University. I then had to offer myself as an unpaid intern in order to get the experience need to progress. I learnt so much during my first internship at Sliderobes in Belfast. The most important thing for me was how to work in a team environment and also in the real world. I then worked a further two more internships unpaid before landing my first paid job. The fact that I was willing to work unpaid for a period to help me achieve my goal of working in the furniture design industry.
Top 3 most significant steps on my career path so far
- Getting my first internship- the first step is always the hardest in my opinion, everything else happens a little more naturally after that if you work hard enough.
- Getting my first product to market : this for any designer is probably the best feeling you can get in design, to see the fruition of a design from sketch concept stage to seeing it on a shop floor with all the marketing material and exposure is a feeling next to none.
- Showcasing my designs at a renowned furniture show: quite recently i had the honour odf showcasing my recent designs at the NEC Birmingham - January furniture show. For anyone in the UK furniture industry this is the pinnacle of commercial furniture shows in the UK. I had worked on projects that were showcases at Clerkenwell Design Week in London but to see an ideas that i conceived myself on display is different gravy.
What would your advice to students be?
Put yourself out there - Get yourself recognised don't just settle for a CV application, identify companies that you would like to work for nd approach them face to face , ask for 5 minutes of their time, even if they say no, you are now on their radar and not just a name on a piece of paper. For every no you get, you are one step closer to a yes!
Develop your portfolio : everyone leaves University thinking , if only i’d have done more, well now is your chance, get the projects out again and develop them, make the changes you wish you could have before the grading process. This will also help you develop your presentation/sketching and solid work skills. If possible try learn a new program. Most of all don't give up. It will seem like an impossible task at times to find employment but i can assure you the more time you put into it the more chance you have.