"I would encourage all students to undertake as many placements as possible."
My first role after graduation was as a Junior Designer at Horseman Cooke Agency. During a work placement at AID London, a colleague invited me to her birthday party where I met two designers. They suggested that I drop into their agency the following day to have a look around and to meet their boss, MD Mike Horseman. I didn’t have my portfolio with me so took my Manchester Metropolitan notebook instead. Mike offered me a job on the basis of the crammed contents of my notebook. He said that he was impressed that I seemed to find inspiration everywhere (including amongst the cigarette butts, sugar sachets and perfume bottles taped into my book). As a visiting lecturer at Newcastle, he apparently told many students the story of the notebook, encouraging them to create their own.
Since graduating, my learning and development have largely been through shifts in my career – agency to client side, employed to independent … from a B&Q tent to a royal tent in the desert. Much of my development has been as a result of being open to explore new situations (which I partly credit to being on the Foundation Course). Work highlights over recent years include the opportunity to spend time observing and learning from remarkable people , including Joel Joffe, the Red Arrows (and a number of extraordinary individuals working in multiple sectors during my ongoing quest for STEMtoSTEAM.)
I am currently a Strategic Advisor at Creative Catalyst, an Advocate at STEMtoSTEAM and an Art Partner. In my consultancy role I am catalysing and advocating creativity in its widest sense and in my role as an Art Partner, I am developing strategic relationships and supporting initiatives, including exhibitions and collaborations. My interest in world affairs led to prior membership of the International Institute of Strategic Studies and I am considering undertaking a PHD in the future.
I would encourage all students to undertake as many placements as possible – as much to help identify the type of culture that you don’t want to work in as the type that you do!
I chose to do a number of student placements including at AID and Tigerprint in London. They were essential, offering valuable insights into the real world. In my case, positive and negative experiences all helped to build a greater awareness, resilience and in some cases, formed relationships that endured – both client and agency side.
Be clear about the things that you feel certain about but open minded about how to get there. Be Curious, genuine, reliable and brave. Don’t let anyone tell you can’t do something … create a way to do it. Ask ‘why not?’ rather than ‘why bother?’. Be kind – most of all to yourself. Probably most of all… please know that five minutes after something goes wrong is often the time when it starts to go right, so don’t give up.
My Foundation year - being encouraged to experiment and to widen my learning and approach. It opened my eyes to new ways of looking at the world and helped me to identify genuine areas of interest and opportunity.
The degree course was equally stimulating, focussing my attention on real life projects. Visiting lecturers also enriched the course, including Neville Brody.
I loved it all, friends, space, time, freedom, and the chance to discover, learn and develop.