How the Dean’s Innovation Award will help me launch my own business

A placement year in industry is a great opportunity to build your experience and confidence by putting the skills you develop on your course into practice in a real-life environment.

Amelia McDowell blog - Primary

BA (Hons) Fashion Design student, Amelia McDowell chose to take a placement year in her third year to gain first-hand industry experience in her chosen career.  

Amelia McDowellWhat course you are currently on?

I'm studying BA (Hons) Fashion Design (Menswear) and currently in my placement year in industry. Technically I am in my third year, and will graduate in my fourth year next year.

Why did you choose to come to BCU and why did you choose that course?

It was really important to me to achieve a degree from my home town. I love Birmingham as a city and cannot wait to see how it grows in the next decade with HS2 and the possibility of Channel 4 moving here. I chose to study fashion design as it is a broad scope degree; there are other areas of design I could move into after graduating. The main reason is because I love designing clothing and the thought-processes that go with it.

How are you finding the course?

I feel challenged creatively and have been guided by some amazing lecturers, for whom no question is too small. I have really felt the support in learning the design process from scratch. We've also had some amazing local entrepreneurs as guest lecturers: trend forecasters - including WGSN, and artists like Patrick Ian Hartley. I think we're really lucky as students at BCU in that we get engagement from people in industry.

Can you tell me a bit about the Dean’s Innovation Award and how you got involved in it?

When I had accepted my place at BCU, I came across the Dean's Innovation Award in my research of the university. It is a grant to help entrepreneurial students to work on their business idea while studying. Again, this has given me access to mentoring that is invaluable as a student, and with the help of the programme I hope to launch a business when I graduate.

Can you tell me how about your sandwich year in industry and how you secured your placement?

My placement year in industry is a valuable tool for me to gain experience as both a designer and entrepreneur before I graduate. I would encourage other students who are thinking of taking a placement year to do it, as the knowledge, experience and (especially) confidence you will gain will set you apart from others when you graduate. I secured my placement through the University careers team, who are fantastic in supporting you in applying for jobs. They offer everything from CV help to mock interviews. Without the University I wouldn't have had the opportunity to work as an Assistant Designer at ARC, a cutting edge start-up in the Midlands. I feel very lucky.

What are your plans for the future?

My future plan is to launch my own business supported by the Dean's Innovation Award and also the BSEEN programme which I've just been accepted on to. It is an intensive course in start-ups for students in the Midlands. Again, something which I would encourage anyone with a business idea to apply to. I also hope to secure a design role in some capacity upon graduating; as long as I have the opportunity to be creative in my work, I'm pretty happy!

What advice would you give future students preparing to start this course?

My advice to other students starting at BCU Fashion is to be confident in your ideas, and use your time at BCU to figure out your own style or work on what you have already built at college. There will be lots of opportunities to get involved in charity work, volunteer, and summer placements, and I encourage you to apply for as many of these as you can. Use your time as a student to really build your CV, and your signature style. If you're not sure, then ask! Everybody is learning together. Most of all, have fun! It is a fantastic faculty to be part of.

Find out more about BA (Hons) Fashion Design