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Katri Helka from Finland graduates from Ulster University with BDes Hons Graphic Design and Illustration.

As a registered nurse she wasn’t planning on returning to university when she arrived in Northern Ireland over four years ago. Katri is now looking forward to starting a new career as a graphic designer with The Design Factor in Belfast later this month.

Katri said:

“I was working as a Registered Nurse in Finland and decided to take time off from my job back home and come work in Belfast for a bit. I needed a change and wanted to do something a bit different. I was meant to stay for six months. My sister has lived in Belfast for years (her husband is from Northern Ireland), so it made sense to come to Belfast.

“After a few months of living away from home I started to think about what I really wanted to do in life and decided to look into returning to university the second time around. I have always loved design, but didn’t have the courage to pursue a career in the creative industry after finishing my A-levels years ago. I looked into Ulster University’s course selection and thought the degree course for Graphic Design was very well presented. I attended an open day at the University’s Belfast campus and chatted with the course directors about the course, which I found extremely helpful.

“By far the best decision I ever made was to return to studying. Ulster University was a fantastic place to study and I would recommend it without hesitance. The course content was relevant and useful and the tutors were all professionals.

“My summer placement at Whitenoise was great in that it got me thinking of the business side of working as a graphic designer. It helped me readjust my thinking.

“During my final year studies I was also lucky enough to be shortlisted for the RSA Student Design Award 2017. I was flown to London for the interview and got to pitch my concept to the panel of judges which was a fantastic experience and certainly helped build my confidence in presenting my work. An experience I will remember for sure.

“It is a huge jump to return to studying after getting used to receiving a pay check every month. Taking risks can be nerve wrecking and filled with obstacles, but risks are worth taking as long as you are smart about it and take one step at a time. It’s never too late to change things if you feel you’re not 100 per cent happy with where you are at.”