Professional Futures events launched for final year Visual Communication students

Professional Futures News Story

Third-year BA (Hons) Design for Performance, BA (Hons) Graphic Communication and BA (Hons) Illustration students recently had the chance to attend three unique Professional Futures events hosted at Birmingham City University.

The three events were held on our City Centre Campus and saw a team of returning alumni and creative industry professionals provide advice to current undergraduate students, who will soon be entering the workplace themselves.

The first event was held for BA (Hons) Graphic Communication students and started off with a workshop led by alumni from the course. In the session students were asked to creatively respond to the question “what do I bring to the table?” as if they were an industry practitioner. The interactive workshop gave students the opportunity to discuss and identify their creative strengths and talents, and consider how they could stand out from competing graduates as they transition from graduates to junior industry practitioners. The alumni leading the workshop included: Emily Caplan (Mccann Central), Aimee Chapman (Cogent), Beth Dutton (Spark44), Claire Hollingworth (Grenade) and Sam Myles (Roundhouse Gin).

This was followed by a ‘big picnic’, where students were able to indulge in a baguette and network with alumni and industry guests in an informal setting.

Industry lectures took place in the afternoon and second-year students were also able to sit in and join the third-years for the discussions led by current professionals in their field. The speakers included: Vineet Raheja (Creative Director, ITG Connect Ltd), Sweta Pathak (Freelancer and co-founder, Women Unltd) and Will Lanham (Senior Creative, Notepad studio)

This was followed by a Q&A panel and a chance for students to engage in one-to-one discussions about their work, and get feedback and advice on their future careers from industry creatives or alumni. The BCU Careers team was also on hand to advise students about future job opportunities and make them aware of further support and options available to them after they graduate. Third year BA (Hons) Graphic Communication student Nicola Lammin commented on how informative and useful she found the day:

Other courses followed the same format for their events, and Design for Performance graduate Molly Craggs gave an insightful talk to current students about her freelance role as an Art Department Assistant. She discussed what it was like working as a freelancer for the film and television industry, the daily tasks within her current job (such as sourcing and making props and helping to dress sets), as well as her recently signed nine-month contract to work on ITV’s Coronation Street.

British costume and theatre set designer Robert Howell, recognised for his work on the London stages in ‘A Christmas Carol’, ‘Dr.Seuss’ The Lorax’ and Matilda the Musical (2012) also graciously gave the keynote speech for the Design for Performance event. Howell, who has won the prestigious Olivier Award and Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Set Design works extensively across the theatre scene including The National Theatre, the Young Vic and the Metropolitan Opera.

Illustration students were also treated to invaluable talks from alumni including Rachel Suzanne and Helen Green (who have worked with Rochelle Humes and Lady Gaga respectively) and Nicola Roe who is now a designer at brand agency, Epoch Design. They all spoke about their individual creative journeys, how they got into the industry and gave students advice on how to secure their first graduate roles.

The events were organised by Tracy Allanson-Smith, the Employability Coordinator for the School of Visual Communication. She commented:

Industry and academia need to have a closer dialogue. It's my role to encourage a strong ongoing link and also to blur the boundaries between the two.

The events certainly achieved this and helped students to network and have greater confidence approaching external links, as well as start to look beyond the University to the creative industries for future work related opportunities.

Find out more about the final Professional Futures event that took place for BA (Hons) Photography students by visiting the School of Visual Communication blog.

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