On the move

 

The tale of a zealous student’s first interview for an extremely exciting and promising industry job.

At last things have been happening. A month of unfruitful emails and tentative flat searches passed before anything happened. I got one response offering an interview but unfortunately they ‘found our new Studio Assistant’ before I had the chance to get my foot in the door. Until, while I was sat at my desk trawling through Dezeen Jobs one afternoon, I got the email from Philip Watts Design.

‘Thank you for your application for the placement position we have in London. I would love to meet you to discuss your work and get to know you a little more.

Are you available this Friday at all to meet at OXO Tower and we can get a coffee and discuss your work?’

At last.

The next week was spent lovingly touching up my, now shoddy, first year AutoCAD plans for my makeshift portfolio. I say makeshift because I have a designed portfolio, one I painstakingly laid out and made perfect for a hand in. Unfortunately, despite explaining to my lecturer that I had an interview and the submission having already been graded, I was unable to collect my actual portfolio from the studio. So, I made a makeshift portfolio of all of my original A3 layouts, which meant I could rearrange the work to suit what I knew Arun (my interviewer) wanted to see. And include hand drawn work from first year which is much more charming on its original, slightly crinkled layout paper. I’ve only just learned how to hand draw but it already feels like hand drawing is a dying art.

The interview went well. I survived the social shun of admitting that I don’t drink tea or coffee, then plumped with a much more palatable orange and mango juice. In fact, Arun made me feel right at home in what seems like the Philip Watts family. We briefly talked about me, then him and then the job itself. Over our drinks, the hot London sun warming our necks, he told me there’s often dogs in the office, that I get two weeks off at Christmas, and one of their biggest clients is Greggs while I sat and listened in rhapsody, hoping that the black A3 presentation folder wilting between my Nikes and the chair leg was enough.

It turns out it was. In a stroke of luck, I got the email from Philip Watts himself a week later, 10 minutes before my brother and I were due to meet my parents in Victoria for a family pub crawl back to my brothers Brixton flat.

‘You met recently with Arun at our London office and he was very impressed! So it gives me great please to offer you a placement opportunity with our company.’

Since then I’ve been looking at affordable and practical rooms in house shares around London and I think I’ve found a steal, but more on that later…

 

 

Bangers on a Budget

People all too often assume that students can’t cook and as a result live of quick, easy and unhealthy meals, but that isn’t always the case and it certainly doesn’t need to be the case. I was lucky enough to grow up in a foodie family so I had a pretty good repertoire of meals I could cook when I went to uni, but if you don’t there’s a whole host of student specific cookbook. These books, unlike other cookbooks, contain less complicated recipes that don’t require an extra parsley garnish or a sprig of rosemary which cuts the cost of ingredients considerably.

Building up your cupboard stock can be really helpful when cooking, it makes the range of recipes you can cook much wider and enables you to play around a little more with the recipes you chose. Sometimes the twist of a substitute ingredient can turn a regular recipe into a regular favourite. Soon you’ll find your own ways of cooking meals, I’m not sure if my mother was proud or offended when I started putting soy sauce in my bolognese instead of HP, which she had always used. Cooking should be fun, so don’t feel like you’re doing it wrong if you take out or add in an ingredient.

Cook on students, prove the stereotype wrong.

What’s the point?

Everyone, student or not, knows how hard finding a graduate job is. Statistics have been cropping up for years in agreement. The Financial Times recently proposed that one-in-three graduates are in low-skilled and non-degree-relevant jobs. I, like most other people, chose to do a degree in order to become more employable so every now and then, for me anyway, doing a degree can feel pointless. When zero out of 30 employers reply to your emails pleading enquiring about placement or work experience. Or when you attend a summer placement fair held by your university which is perfect for students studying engineering or accounting but more or less useless for anyone studying anything else.

When you get to this crying sat in front of your laptop stage it’s important to remember why you chose to do a degree, and there is a multitude of valid reasons.

Future Employment

Eventually, having a degree will mean being able to secure yourself a higher paying job or even any job at all. Most employers now require some kind of higher education in order to even get your foot in the door.

Being Educated

This is a competitive world and any upper hand I can have, I will. Having a degree in a chosen field allows me to call myself educated, and prove it.

Degree level education is a lot more in-depth than any other qualification. During your time at uni you’ll learn things that you never thought you would, or perhaps that you never thought you would need. Also, as it covers such a wide knowledge base you’ll probably find yourself unearthing interests you never knew you had. Plus, there’s no better feeling than being education on something you feel passionately about.

CV Filler

Sometimes just making the font size bigger isn’t the answer. Increasingly often people now reach the ripe old age of 20/21, or in other words, graduate before they have any real work experience. A degree is definitely an accolade to put on your CV.

A degree also speaks to your character. They are hard work. They take dedication, perseverance, and intelligence. These aren’t skills everyone possesses, university and the idea of a career isn’t for everyone, and having a degree proves to employers that it is for you and that you’ll work for it.

Life Experience

Love it or hate it, university is often people’s first taste of independent living. All universities have some kind of support in place for people struggling, but even if you’re not, university (especially your time in halls) is a bridge between college and the real world. Trust me, the magical oven cleaning fairy won’t come weekly forever.

Contacts 

The saying ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ became a cliche for a very good reason, it’s mostly true. Being at uni allows you to meet people in your industry. Lecturers are always good people to have on side, they can be a reference or even a friend later in your career. Guest lectures are also likely to be part of your course, these are hosted by people or companies who are established within your industry and are definitely worth knowing.

Not only does your time at university allow you to make connections with your superiors, but also your peers. Collaboration is an extremely important aspect of a wide range of industries, specifically the design industry.

Ultimately the goal of univerisity is to leave it feeling and being employable, so make sure you chose a field you want to explore during your career and chose a uni that ranks high within this subject.

And finally, get yourself out there when you can, because finding a job is as hard as everyone says it is.

I can & I will

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In a difficult time for me 8 months ago I began a blog post entitled I Can & I Will, but it fell by the wayside for a variety of reasons and remained in my draft folder to gather dust. Until now. I now find myself in a similar situation to the one I was in 8 months ago, and again after yet another fall, I need to dust myself off and get back to it with an unwavering determination.

As well as my personal life falling apart recently, I’ve also been extremely preoccupied with looming deadlines which fortunately have now passed. So, I find myself with two weeks off for Easter which I will spend getting as on top of my work as I like to be, planning out and posting a few blog posts and looking into new and exciting options for my third university year.

I think sometimes it’s all too easy to either lose sight of what you want or to just be too scared to reach out and grab it, but I can & I will.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TITle

So I’ve been thinking a lot about my image lately, the need to be, or at least appear professional. The idea of creating a brand, or maybe even being my own brand. Especially as I’m currently looking for placement, emailing a lot of companies my portfolio and CV, along with accompanying social medial accounts which needs to adhere to level of maturity. This unfortunately means censoring myself and some of my old and more controversial work, such as my Free The Nipple project.

I worked on this project during my final year of college and am very proud of the outcome, as well as the project itself. During this time I explored a lot of avenues within the idea of feminism. The project asked questions regarding the censorship of women and tentatively pushed the boundaries of what I discovered is ‘appropriate’. I took great pleasure in asking the sniggering kids in my school exactly why they found my braless breasts so funny, while pointing out I could see all of the boys nipples who were giggling at mine. I tried to challenge the stigma of misplaced embarrassment that surrounds harmlessly revealing the female form. Ultimately, despite mine and many other feminists best efforts, I still believe that women are unfairly sexualised in all forms; the media, social stereotypes, porn, adverts, music videos, sport.

While I resent the fact I cannot parade this project I also respect that it is sensitive and controversial. I am putting this project out there for whoever it may interest, because the idea of censoring it goes against the exact reason I made it. This project was made to challenge, to ask why we women must be so modest with our bodies.

Damn being a grown up…

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Below is the link to my Free The Nipple project, please be warned that there are many images of naked women and probably some misspelled words. Peruse at your leisure.

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Preparing to Prepare

Blogging is something I really enjoy doing by rarely find the time to do. While I recognise it’s something that could further my studies and career, it’s also something I never want to take priority over my degree. Having said that, this year I have made a promise to myself (and the few regular readers I am thankful for) to make more time to blog.

I began this blog with the intention of not only keeping track of the things I’ve seen and learnt, but also as a tool for others planning to embark on a course like mine or come to the University of Hertfordshire. For this reason I’d like to dedicate myself to blogging more about my lectures.

And what better way to kick this off than by telling you about the first lecture of my new module, Professional Development: Preparing for Industry

This is a module I was really excited to start this semester as placement year is looming and I still feel relatively in the dark about what that really entails. Fortunately Erica, my lecturer, seems to have more than her fair share of knowledge to impart. With three degrees under her belt, plenty of experience in the design industry and a handful of years as a lecturer, I’m eager to begin working with her.

In her module we will be creating professional portfolios, creative CV’s and other business promotions such as business cards, as well as towards the end of the semester taking part in mock interviews. During this interview, which is 50% of my module, I will be assessed on my portfolio, CV, cover letter, business cards and the overall physical presentation of my work and myself.

Although the money was never what drew me to the profession the anecdote of a graduate owning their own house three years after graduating defiitely made my ears prick up, and also realise that it’s now time to start considering the future. Time to start planning where I would like to live and work, whether or not I want a studio based job or whether I want to be out meeting clients and donning muddy boots and hard hat to inspect the progress of sites. Naturally, anyone who knows me will know the rushing around to different meeting, pen hastily stowed in my hair and still coming home with an armful of drawings and maps is something that I’m thrilled to inflict on myself.