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Louis Alderman, Graphic Design graduate at University Centre South Essex shares his story

Louis Alderman, Graphic Design graduate at University Centre South Essex shares his story

Course studied

Graphic Design & Illustration BA (Hons)

I would recommend the University Centre, 100% compared to London, it felt a lot more like home and a lot more comfortable and it also felt more bespoke.



My name is Louis, I am 25 years old, I studied Graphic Design at University Centre South Essex 2016- 2018 and this is my story.

I left the University Centre with a 2:2 degree.

Before doing my degree I studied Graphic Design at the college and I had been doing it as a hobby since I was 11.

I spent my first year of university at the University Of East London, however I didn't enjoy anything about it besides the view. With three tutors I ironically had minimal attention from them, and the course felt a bit old school, it wasn't really for me. So I decided to move closer to home and attend the local university centre.

The course and my tutors were amazing and they offered support for my learning difficulties and I was able to be diagnosed with Dysgraphia with Traits of Dyspraxia which has always hindered my learning as it was too expensive to diagnose. The diagnosis didn’t help the problem but it allowed me to understand my issues and allowed me to get support.

Doing my degree was like another level of education, they would teach you how to learn, and how to evolve ideas using your best skill set to create better pieces of work. I think the greatest skill I gained l is how to approach a design with more than one idea, it taught me not to just go with my first initial instinct.

All of the abode software at South Essex College and University Centre South Essex is very useful when you go into industry and one that I rely on to achieve my goals.
Since completing my course I have worked a few freelance jobs but mainly I spent time working at a garden centre as a marketing assistant and I recently lost my job in a designer role at a local design agency due to complications surrounding COVID.

Currently I’m involved in running an online marketing business with two of my best friends.

We came together to start business and it has become the best suited position for my skill set and responsibilities.

As the creative director I take lead with any design aspect of our client’s needs, liaising with them to ensure its the design they want. We are looking to hire a web developer so I will be working with them to produce websites for our clients, based on my original design.

My favourite memory of the university was spending time with classmates outside of class, with it being so close to the Highstreet it made it very easy to “pop to the pub after”.

I would recommend the University Centre, 100% compared to London, it felt a lot more like home and a lot more comfortable and it also felt more bespoke if that makes sense.

My greatest achievement has been running this business and being able to pay ourselves a wage at the end of the month feels pretty good.

In the future I want to be able to relax, and be able to just enjoy life? I think if you’re going to be working for the rest of your life, try your best to do something you love and if you can't, then make it for yourself.

To learn more about the university centre, visit: www.southessex.ac.uk/he/ucse-courses 

Psychology and Sociology graduate Katie Fida shares her story

Psychology and Sociology graduate Katie Fida shares her story

Course studied

Psychology & Sociology BSc (Hons)

I chose this university because I was drawn to the class room style lectures, where more conversation and debates could take place, as I feel this is a brilliant way to learn as opposed to huge lecture theatres.


My name is Katie, I am 25 years old and I studied BSc Psychology and Sociology at University Centre South Essex from 2017 to 2020 and this is my story.

Before coming to the university centre, I completed one year of an adult nursing degree; however, it just didn’t feel 100% right. So, I wanted a career change, I decided to enrol on an Access to Counselling course, which I completed with a Distinction, and then that lead me to the Psychology and Sociology degree. Alongside my college course I worked in healthcare as a Health Care Assistant in hospitals and care homes.  I then got a job working in a Psychiatric hospital whilst studying on my degree, which fuelled my desire to work in the field of psychology. 

I finally was able to marry my wife in August, after it was cancelled in July, then I started a master’s in Psychology in September 2020, which I am due to finish in August 2021.

I am currently working in a Psychiatric hospital, on a Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit. My job entails ensuring the safety of those suffering from severe mental health disorders (at a point of crisis), who have been sectioned under the Mental Health Act. It is my job to observe their mental state daily and report this, carry out enhanced observations to minimise potential risk they pose to themselves or others. I carry out risk assessments, ward rounds, liaise with family members and the MDT. I also assist with care plan writing, verbally de-escalate patients when they are in crisis and carry out CBT skills coaching sessions.  

I started working on the Personality Disorder ward, then I carried out CPD training within the company I work. I now work with patients with Schizophrenia, Bipolar, Psychosis and other severe mental health conditions. I employed my knowledge and skills from the degree into my work also. 

I chose this university because I was drawn to the class room style lectures, where more conversation and debates could take place, as I feel this is a brilliant way to learn as opposed to huge lecture theatres.

It has helped massively with my understanding of a lot of social and psychological dilemmas that people may be in. It has also helped me with critical thinking when in crisis situations. It helped me prepare for my Master’s, the progression from degree level 6 work, to master’s level 7 work felt almost natural. A lot of what I learned on my degree I am now expanding on in my master’s, and I don’t think I would have such a great understanding if I had never completed the degree that I did. 

I gained critical thinking skills, communication, I learned how to use SPSS which is paramount for the profession I seek to be in. I have the skills to write an academic piece of work, which has helped my report writing skills in my current job role. I also learned presentation skills, which has helped me with the confidence of speaking in front of others in a formal manner. This has helped when I have carried out handovers and ward rounds in my current role and have also helped with my masters. 
I used SPSS at the university, which I am very grateful for, as I use this a lot in my master’s now, and will use it many times throughout my career, so that software is the exact same as I am using now and in the future, which is excellent. 

My favourite memory would be the trip we all took to the Bethlam Mental Health Hospital, we got to look through the archive hospital records which we were all absolutely glued to. It was very fascinating and great insight. But I also just have so many brilliant memories from the lectures, being able to chat in depth as a group about the topics, I learned a lot through the conversations. 

I would recommend it because I feel smaller learning groups are an excellent way to build confidence and to really get engaged with the topics you learn. The tutors are very helpful and the smaller class groups means you can have more one to one conversation with the lecturers. It is also in an excellent location. 
My greatest achievement I would say is getting a First class on my dissertation, and then winning an outstanding student award. I have also recently received a Distinction on my master’s Psychology exam. 

After completion of my master’s I hope to progress in the company I am currently in, to an assistant psychologist, and then I will be applying for a Doctorate. I hope to work as a Clinical or Forensic psychologist. I also hope to be a good role model to my daughter, as a single parent it has not been easy studying and working, but I hope it finally pays off and that I can give her a nice life, whilst also working in my dream career.

The university centre really helped with my confidence, especially my academic confidence and to believe that pursuing my aspirations may actually be achievable.
If you would like to learn more about the Psychology and Sociology BSc course, visit: www.southessex.ac.uk/he/ucse-courses 

Access to Higher Education Journey: William Thatcher's Story

Access to Higher Education Journey: William Thatcher's Story

Course studied

Graphic Design & Illustration BA (Hons)

Whatever your situation I encourage those people thinking of returning to education to make a plan of action and if not this year, maybe the next? Don’t let the past define your future.

My name is Will Thatcher, I’m 26 and a mature student currently in first year of my Graphic Design and Illustration course at University Centre South Essex.

Returning to education was something that I thought about for a long time. I never really enjoyed school and mentally I was in a bad place. By Sixth Form, I felt like I was the only person that had no idea what they wanted to do and the pressure of it all lead me to drop out. I still don’t regret that decision, but I think everyone deserves a second chance to find the right path. Since then, I’ve worked a few jobs including a comfortable position in IT, but I didn’t find it very fulfilling, it was time for a fresh and exciting new challenge.

I have always enjoyed the creative arts and I was interested in doing something in that area for a career. I lacked the qualifications to go straight on to university but by looking at local colleges online, I came across the Access to Higher Education Art & Design course and it was exactly what I wanted. It covers such a great range of areas including photography, graphics and fine art so not only did I have a year of easing back into education, I also had a very clear idea of what degree I wanted to go on to study. 

Access to HE changed my life because I learnt so much and met so many amazing like-minded people from all different backgrounds and ages. I was nervous at first but to come back to education and to be treated like an adult was really refreshing, it gave me a new perspective and made me excited to be learning again. During the course, I was introduced to John Chandler who is the course leader for BA Graphic Design & Illustration, he gave me a great insight into what it was all about so I could be confident in my decision. Obviously, the Access course has suited my needs very well, but I would recommend it to anyone, even if they didn’t want to study at degree level.

Enrolling onto BA Graphic Design & Illustration has been the best decision I have made. One of the things I love about it is the enthusiasm from my lecturers, they are very passionate about their subject and know exactly how to get you excited about things you never even thought about before. I am lucky in the sense that graphic design & illustration is very broad topic that can be about anything really so the sense of freedom you are given is fantastic. I also love seeing the sheer diversity of the work my peers produce during each unit, it is very inspiring to be surrounded by all these people.

In second year, we will have to decide if we want to go down the graphic design or the illustration route. I think I will be leaning towards graphics, so to work as a graphic designer either as a freelancer or for a studio would be ideal for me. I’m particularly interested in logos & branding and I hope one day I will have some involvement in professional sports. Designing the next Olympics or FIFA World Cup logo would be the dream job for me, those are images that are remembered forever.

Initially, it was hard to get used to working from home and some days I found it was difficult to focus as there are lots of distractions at home, but this quickly changed as the college and our lecturers were very informative about what’s going on. We also had very good IT resources which is very useful. I also found it beneficial to keep in contact with the people on my course. We have a WhatsApp group that’s very active and we’re always helping each other out in case anyone has missed anything or needs some help. We are now back one day a week which still isn’t ideal, but I’m glad University Centre South Essex is handling the situation as best and as sensibly as possible.

It’s an important decision to make when taking the journey back into higher education. I had to give up a full-time job to return to education though I was fortunate enough to be able to move back home. I recognise that there are many people out there with a lot more constraints and for them it will be a lot tougher, but I have met plenty of people on the courses that are carers, have families & mortgages etc. that are proving it can be done. All I would say is whatever your situation I encourage those people to make a plan of action and if not this year, maybe the next? Don’t let the past define your future.

To learn more about our courses, visit: www.southessex.ac.uk/he/ucse-courses 

 

Success Stories -  Louis Papagavriel

Success Stories - Louis Papagavriel

Course studied

Early Years Education BA (Hons)

You are never too old to achieve your dreams, it might just take some hard work, but anyone can make it.

My name is Louis Papagavriel I am 32, studying the BA Hons Early Years and this is my story.

I decided to return to education not long after my 30th birthday. This was after a spell of major mental health issues causing me to be unable to work.

I did a lot of extensive research and reflected on my strengths and weaknesses when looking for new careers to pursue and decided that I wanted to become a primary school teacher.  I attended the college when I was 17 so I decided to look up what adult courses they offered, discovered Access courses and was able to find out that they clearly fitted into my career goal as the college offered an Access to Teaching course. 

Whilst studying the Access course, we were visited by students on the Early Years Education degree at the college and from what they told us about the course I decided this was the course I wanted to progress on to after I finished my Access course. Since starting the course, I have also visited this year's Access course to inform them about my current course.

The course covers many interesting subjects and has developed my knowledge of Early Years education. The course tutor is also very passionate about the subject which makes some of the more, less exciting subjects more interesting. Also, being in a class of likeminded people and being able to share our experiences and passion for the subject is amazing.

Having a young child who is also having to be home-schooled and trying to complete assignments has been difficult during lockdown but luckily the university has been very accommodating and given me extra time to complete tasks and assignments. Also, an important part of the course is having a placement in local schools. However, due to the pandemic this has not been possible. We have however, been making videos from home for children to watch.

The advice I would give to anyone who is looking to go into higher education is that if you have the drive and determination to change your career or to advance in your current career, then go for it. You are never too old to achieve your dreams, it might just take some hard work, but anyone can make it. 

To learn more about the university centre, visit: www.southessex.ac.uk/events 
 

Success Stories -  Emma White

Success Stories - Emma White

Course studied

Interior Design BA (Hons)

I would have never imagined in four years’ time that I would have met my business partner and be setting up our own company, both doing something we truly love.

My name is Emma White, I am 30 years of age, studying BA Hons Interior Design at University Centre South Essex and this is my story.

It was the start of 2017 and I wasn’t enjoying my current job working in HR and had just started writing a blog about home styling and design. Interior design has always been something I’ve enjoyed and found interesting so I finally took the plunge that year to quit my job and go back to studying full-time. 

I started looking online at interior design courses locally and found the degree through there. But as I hadn’t studied art in the past, I wanted to start by trying the Access to HE Art & Design course (which I found through the website) to see if I enjoyed it before committing to the degree. Turns out I did! 

I have really enjoyed the course so far and the briefs are flexible so they allow you to be as creative as you want. It also links well to the interior design industry so the work we do feels really relevant.

After I finish my degree, me and another student on the course are currently setting up our own interior design business so we will have our own company when we finish in May.

During lockdown I sometimes found it hard to feel inspired with an idea for a design, as the days have blurred into one. But I’ve found actually spending some time away from work really helps this rather than staring at a blank screen all day.  

The advice I would give to anyone looking to start their degree journey is to just go for it as you never know where it might lead you. I would have never imagined in four years’ time that I would have met my business partner and be setting up our own company, both doing something we truly love. 

To learn more about the University Centre and what we have to offer, visit: www.southessex.ac.uk/he
 

Success Stories -  Siobhan Best

Success Stories - Siobhan Best

Course studied

Graphic Design & Illustration BA (Hons)

I love the course so far. Everyone on the course is so friendly and supportive. The classes at University Centre South Essex are very small so there’s always support and equipment available.

My name is Siobhan Best, I am 34 years old, studying BA Graphic Design & Illustration at University Centre South Essex and this is my story.

I worked in mental health care for ten years before having my daughter, Effie and when my daughter started school, I thought it would be fun to do a course to keep me busy.

I chose Access to Art and Design as I loved crafts and drawing in my spare time.  The Access course was amazing and changed my life. It was hard work but I loved every minute, learning new skills and discovering artists. It sounds cheesy but it made me see the world through a new set of eyes! 

I had very few qualifications and had never done well in education until the access course, the tutors encouraged me to apply for a degree and I decided to go for BA Graphic Design and Illustration. 

A friend recommended the course so I looked at the website and met Cherry, one of the tutors, who discussed the course in more detail and inspired me to learn more.

I love the course so far. Everyone on the course is so friendly and supportive. The classes at University Centre South Essex are very small so there’s always support and equipment available. 

After university, I am really interested in printmaking and illustration - I would love to write and illustrate a children’s book. I am also interested in becoming an art teacher.

The difficulties during lockdown have been mainly trying to home-school my daughter whilst doing my coursework and it has certainly been a bit of a balancing act.

I would say to anybody who is looking to start their journey to higher education is to visit the open days and go for it. 

If you would like to learn more about the next virtual open day visit: www.southessex.ac.uk/events 
 

Success Stories -  Kerry Thomas

Success Stories - Kerry Thomas

Course studied

Graphic Design & Illustration BA (Hons)

My name is Kerry Thomas, I am 35 years old, I studied graphic design at University Centre South Essex from September 2013 until June 2016 and this is my story.

My name is Kerry Thomas, I am 35 years old, I studied graphic design at University Centre South Essex from September 2013 until June 2016 and this is my story.

I left school in 2002 just after my GCSEs and worked up from a receptionist role to accounts payables assistant roles in various jobs until 2007. I then had my son and stayed at home and started a little cupcake company which didn’t really take off. In 2010 I went back to work again in an accounts assistant role until I fell pregnant with my daughter in 2011. After she was born I realised I didn’t want to work in accounts and I wanted to do something creative. I wanted a career so that I could change my family’s future and I wanted my children to know it’s never too late to chase a dream. So I enrolled with the college and did the Access to Art and Design course in 2012. I actually wanted to do interior design however, as I learnt more about graphic design I began to fall in love.

After graduating in October 2016, I landed my first role in a publishing/events company called Media10 and worked across a variety of magazines designing layouts for different publications. After a year I moved on to a creative agency called Powwow Creative. Here I learnt so much, there was such a variety of work from creating social and advertising campaigns to brand development. I was involved in the projects from start to completion and really grew as a designer here. Unfortunately in January 2019 I was made redundant. 

In February 2019 I lined up several interviews including one at Formula One, which was an amazing experience however, I was offered an amazing position at out of home media agency JCDecaux. 

I have been there for the past two years and I absolutely love it. I work in the department called one world which means that I work with all the large and global brands. I help creative solutions come up with new out of home advertising ideas and I create realistic mock-ups so that they can pitch to clients the concepts. I also support the sales team with their PowerPoint decks and any sales and marketing material.


Because I had children and obviously my family life I couldn’t go to a university that was too far away and luckily for me University Centre South Essex was more or less on my doorstep as I lived in Shoeburyness at the time. However that being said, I probably would have still chosen to go there even if I did have the option of going to another university. 


I think because I’d already had experience in the workplace I don’t know if it really helped me prepare for the work blows, it definitely helped me prepare for the type of roles that I would be doing once I had my degree. I can see and I do know the university has helped younger people who may not have had that experience to experience what work the workplace might be like.
The best thing about higher education, from my point of view, is the friendships you make and the inspiration you get from your tutors. There is support and guidance from other people and the pride in receiving recognition for learning about your passion.
One of the biggest skills university gave me was confidence. Confidence in my ability and the confidence to trust myself. It also gave me a firm understanding about the subject in which I was about to embark on a career in.


The equipment is all up-to-date when I was doing my degree and I then went into my first job because I was so used to using the equipment at the university centre I found it really easy to just carry on.


At the end of my first year on the graphic design degree I was feeling a little bit like, is this for me? Am I too old to be learning this? Most of the people on my course were under the age of 22 and had done a Graphic Design BTEC so they were already aware of things that I wasn’t and I was feeling a little deflated. Then we did the final major project and I will never forget that I looked at my final major project and I looked at my tutor John and I just felt in that moment so proud of how far I had come because when I started I knew nothing and looking at that final major project I thought, that's progress, this is where I’m finally getting it and I think my course tutor agreed.


There are a ton of universities that all claim to have the best courses the best people and I’m sure that they do but I don’t think I would be where I am today if it wasn’t for the tutors, support and the guidance I received whilst at University Centre South Essex.
The best way I think to look at it is if a 27 year old mother of two children who has never had any experience in the career that she wants to do is able to go back to school and not only graduate but to also then embark on that career and be established as a designer then I think that shows exactly why you’d be mad not to consider University centre South Essex.
My greatest achievement apart from my beautiful children and getting a degree is working for one of the biggest media advertising agencies in the world (JCDecaux).


I do a lot of freelance work as well and in the future I would like to own my own agency in five to ten years

University Centre South Essex gave me confidence and also never will I be afraid again to chase my dreams because now I know for sure that if you shoot for the moon and you miss, that's okay, you’re still among the stars.


Also can I add in a thank you to Cherry Sandover (Access Course Leader) for taking me under her wing and allowing me to express myself and to John for giving me the chance. He knew I had no prior knowledge of Graphic Design but I promised him I would work hard and he gave me a shot. I want all the tutors to know I kept my promise and I’m still working hard but I will forever appreciate you taking a chance on me and changing my life.
 

Teri Athery's story on work experience journey with Essex interior design company

Teri Athery's story on work experience journey with Essex interior design company

Course studied

Interior Design BA (Hons)

I enjoy that my course is run by tutors that have real life industry experience.



Hello my name is Teri Arthey, I am a third year student studying the BA(HONS) Interior Design course at University Centre South Essex and this is my work experience story at Design Coalition. 

My tutor organised the opportunity for a professional mentor, to come in four times a year and present career tips, knowledge and insights and the opportunity to go through our own project ideas and get feedback. Last year sadly due to the pandemic it had to be on teams. After our mentor did the first session with us presenting what he and the company do,  I couldn’t stop thinking about it and kept looking into the company. In our last session right before we left in year 2 we did one-to-one sessions with him and I asked him if I could possibly get some experience in the summer. He asked me to send my cv and portfolio and he’d get back to me. A couple weeks later I was in the studio working. 

I enjoyed everything about my work placement at Design Coalition. I worked within a team that were always so helpful and kind, was given a wide range of opportunities and gained knowledge that I can bring back to university and into the future. I have also gained more confidence and communicational skills. It has cemented the idea that I want to become an interior designer in the future.

The work experience placement ran for 16 weeks all together and thanks to the course, this has enabled me to have a CV and portfolio ready to send when I graduate. If it wasn’t for having my teacher set up the mentor meetings I might have not have had the opportunity.

I enjoy that my course is run by tutors that have real life industry experience. I also really like the small class numbers as this means we have a lot more time with our tutors. We also have access to resources and staff that can help us with other things. There’s always someone you can ask. 

I would highly recommend the university; all the staff are amazing and helpful along with amazing facilities. I came from doing the BTEC level 3 extended diploma in 3D art and design at the college which meant it was a nice smooth transition and got me ready for the course. 

My career aspiration is to be a successful interior designer and my everyday aspiration is to be happy.

Find out more about the Interior Design course by visiting: Interior Design BA (Hons) | South Essex College
 

Daniel McFarlane, Psychology and Sociology graduate, shares his story

Daniel McFarlane, Psychology and Sociology graduate, shares his story

Course studied

Psychology & Sociology BSc (Hons)

My level of confidence and belief in my academic abilities has increased in such a dramatic way because of the support and guidance I received from the amazing lecturers that taught me on my degree.

My name is Daniel Macfarlane, I am 28 years old and I studied Psychology and Sociology at University Centre South Essex from 2017 until 2020 and this is my story.

Before I studied at the college I had various accountancy jobs, moving from place to place for many years.

Since completing the course I have moved to Somerset and become a FE Lecturer teaching the social sciences to access to HE students.
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I chose University Centre South Essex for a couple of reasons. I was at an age where I did not feel like travelling away to study and the university centre offered a course I was interested in.

I gained an abundance of knowledge concerning topics within sociology and psychology and skills such as teamwork, communication and confidence, that will always be valued within any new role I take on.

The best thing about higher education is realising that you can achieve what you want, if you put the time and effort in.

As a lecturer, I have to accredit my ability to deliver lessons to the confidence I gained within my course at the university centre and the presentation and communication skills that I gained with the support of my lecturers.

I don’t have a specific favourite memory as I enjoyed my time there, but the supportive and intimate classroom environment was something that meant a lot to me and helped me in my studies.

My ambitions for the future is to teacher at degree level and maybe complete a masters.

My level of confidence and belief in my academic abilities has increased in such a dramatic way because of the support and guidance I received from the amazing lecturers that taught me on my degree.
 

Helen Barker, Early Years Education student, talks about her experience of returning to education

Helen Barker, Early Years Education student, talks about her experience of returning to education

Course studied

Early Years Education BA (Hons)

I would like to tell those who are considering going back to education to not let fear or uncertainty get in the way. It's been one of the best decisions I've made for myself.

Hello, I'm Helen Barker, aged 26, studying an undergraduate degree in Early Years Education at University Centre South Essex and this is my story.

I decided to go back to education because I felt stuck in the job I was in. I didn't complete A- levels and I wasn't sure what I could do career wise and studying seemed the best option to open up other opportunities. I decided to do the Social Studies Access course as it was the most broad and I thought it would give me the best chance to identify an area of most interest, which it did, as I am now doing Early Years Education. 

I found the information for the Access course through the South Essex College website and it was really easy to apply and get information on funding for the access course. For my undergraduate degree, one of my tutors on the Access course suggested the Early Years Degree to me, based on conversations we'd had over the year and their awareness of my interests in the assignments. Part of the access course was to complete a personal statement and application through UCAS, which was really helpful for my writing skills. 

I'm really enjoying early years education as the topics are interesting and quite broad. We've looked at the physical and mental developmental stages and each year has been more in-depth, looking at these from a sociological and psychological perspective, parents perspective, and in a teaching context. The course has opened my eyes to how many paths there are in life to take and how we can help children to navigate those paths as they grow up. 

One of my initial concerns was that the only career path this Early Years Education degree would take me towards was a teacher. That’s not been true at all. Each assignment introduces me to a new aspect to child development and because of this, I am aiming to complete a masters in psychology to work towards becoming an educational psychologist. 

Studying during lockdown has been difficult, certainly in terms of finding the motivation. I believe that I've been lucky to be studying at such a time, where jobs are in trouble. Being able to study has kept my mind fresh. It's helped me to develop a better routine and taking accountability in my decisions. The hardest part has been not being able to see classmates and tutors face to face, I really miss the discussion that we would have in class. Yet we've adapted really well to working online, which is a silver lining. 

I would like to tell those who are considering going back to education, especially if they have been out of it for some time, to not let fear or uncertainty get in the way. It's been one of the best decisions I've made for myself. Studying is very hard but I wouldn't change a thing about my journey so far, from crying over my first essay for the Access course to now writing my dissertation in my final year, I know I've improved. I'm so proud of myself for doing it and that confidence has flowed into other areas of my life as well. 
 

Daisy Whittaker, Interior Design graduate shares her story

Daisy Whittaker, Interior Design graduate shares her story

Course studied

Interior Design BA (Hons)

From a practical view it is more cost effective to study here as the fees are lower and also travel & accommodation is cheaper whilst still gaining the same degree, knowledge and experience.

My name is Daisy Whittaker, I am 23 years old, I studied Interior Design at University Centre South Essex from 2016 - 2019 and this is my story.

I studied 3D Design at South Essex College and was awarded a Distinction* and from this went on to study on the BA Hons Interior Design degree and graduated with a 1st Class Honours Degree. 

Since completing the course I went on to a junior designer role for Kelly Hoppen Interiors. I did this for a year before being made redundant during the pandemic.  I have since gone on to set up my own interior design company and have completed projects across the south and east of England.

My job involves a whole array of tasks.  As a business owner I not only design for clients, liaise with them and present to them, I also market my business, deal with finances and fellow business owners.

I chose to study here because the course was accredited by University of the Arts London which is a prestigious design school. I was also familiar with the lecturer (having been taught by her briefly on my college degree) and was confident in the level of skill I would be learning from her. 

From a practical view it is more cost effective than going to university in London (UAL) as the fees are less being outside of the capital and also travel & accommodation is cheaper whilst still gaining the same degree, knowledge and experience.

It helped me prepare for the workplace because we did a lot of work experience which was invaluable. This helped me forge strong connections and industry links as well as gaining real life experience. 

The software that we used is exactly the same as that in industry which is great. The suppliers that we met with and furniture brands are also the same so having some of that knowledge proved really valuable in interviews. My degree has also prepared me with general knowledge about the running of the industry, day-to-day life in the workplace, presentation skills, knowledge on suppliers, how to deal with clients and how to market yourself.

Setting up my own company and organically gaining over six projects in my first six months has been fantastic and in the future, I would like to have jobs booked in up to a year in advance as well as having more overseas projects.  

People are always really impressed that you have studied to a higher degree especially having been awarded a 1st Class honours degree. The experience and knowledge I gained were excellent and I would not be able to run my business without them.

Hearing my name being called at graduation and everyone applauding my 1st class degree was certainly one of the highlights of my university journey. My time at the college and the university centre helped me to grow my confidence and speak in front of others which is an essential tool for running my business.