Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Lifestyle | Why University put me off my dream Interior Design career.

University and my experiences over the three years I had there have been something I've found very difficult to talk about. It's hard even now, even to friends and family and even 8 years after graduating. My University experience put me off my dream career in Interior design; The difficult reasons why, I'm going to divulge in this blog post.

Please forgive me if it's a bit of a ramble, I've never really put my thoughts and feelings about the whole situation down in one place. Feel free to grab a cup of tea and put your feet up.

Lets go back to the beginning. Can you see I'm stalling.
For as long as I could remember I'd wanted to be an Interior Designer - Since watching Changing Rooms back in the 90's and becoming completely infatuated by the transformation process of interior spaces I'd had it in my head that Interior Design was the career choice for me. This resonated with me right through GCSE's and A Levels choosing courses that were orientated towards art & design and therefore setting me off onto the right path for my dream career. You could say everything I was working towards since I was an 11 year old girl was to become an Interior Designer. And if that doesn't sound like pressure, I don't know what does.
I suppose this pressure & expectation is exactly where to start my University story.

University wasn't what I'd thought it would be.

My University experience started off surprisingly well, I got involved & stuck in with the projects, enjoyed creating mood boards & 3D interior models. It was fascinating, and exactly what I'd wanted from the course.
The first year on my course was very tutor led, we had lots of guidance & set times and days for doing particular projects which worked perfectly for me. However my first wobbler was thrown during a written based project towards the end of first year. I can't remember exactly what the reasoning behind the project was, and I suppose that's what says it all, but we had to write a history report about one of the older University buildings on campus. Why? I've got absolutely no idea, because in my head this had & still doesn't have anything to do with Interior Design.
I struggle writing academically, I write like I talk, which for this blog works amazingly well as it brings my personality through, but when when it comes to University projects I'm sure you can agree is not so great. Truth is I'd gotten so wrapped up worrying about my writing and how I was coming across that I was loosing my passion for creative design. I remember throwing my toys out oft the pram & saying to the girls on my course that I wasn't coming back the following year. I couldn't do it! My cry for help was met with sayings like 'don't be daft' or 'you can do this' which is all good and well, but I'm the type of person where if I'm crying for help, that's exactly what I need... Help. And unfortunately that's what I didn't receive from my University tutors. And herein lies the problem with my University experience.

I spent the summer mulling things over. Do I go back? Do I find full time work? If I do find full time work, what the hell do I even want to do?

My parents thought I was going to be an Interior Designer, my friends thought I was going to be an Interior Designer, my teachers thought I was going to be an Interior Designer... Can you see where I'm going with this? I felt like I couldn't quit. In my eyes at the time, to quit was to fail, when in hindsight looking back now, to quit could have been the best thing I'd done. Who knows? That's another one of those 'what if' situations which isn't really worth thinking about too much.

I went back to University the following September to find the years projects to be even less tutor led, it felt like the course was more of a 'you get out of it what you put into it' type of thing, which again is not what I was expecting especially when you're paying the fees you do for University, you'd expect a little more guidance. A little more bang for your buck you could say. Our tutors would come in a couple of times a week and sit down to see how we were getting on. However in all honesty it felt like they'd sit with who they wanted to sit with - Thinking about it, it was a little like the dinner hall scene on Mean Girls, in the sense that it was very cliquey... Please say you get the reference? It was always more of a fleeting visit rather than actual teaching, which again thinking about it from a tutors point of view, isn't that what you want from your career?... To teach? I just didn't understand it. For me, having issues the previous year I suppose I wasn't at the top of their list, and again this is totally fine, sometimes these things happen, but it got to the point where I was finding things so difficult but I felt like I could't reach out and ask for help. I just plodded along, not really loving it, not really hating it... I was just there.

My third and final year brought with it the dreaded dissertation. I knew this was coming & even though it scared me, I felt like I prepared well for it. Truth be told, I had probably more guidance with my dissertation than anything else, and guess what... I actually enjoyed it! I enjoyed writing and found my subject matter to be really quite interesting. All I needed was a little help. 
Apart from my dissertation however I had two projects that year, an aptly named minor & major project, which as I'm sure you've guessed by now I had no guidance with.
For me there is nothing worse than asking for help & it not being given. It takes an awful lot to admit that you're struggling and for it to fall upon deaf ears is somewhat hard to take.

I graduated and passed my University degree, I suppose you could say I was a qualified Interior Designer, but I didn't pass with the grade I wanted; And I believe that's down to being left in the dark & not getting the help during my three years at University I'd so blatantly asked for. I look back on my time there and see a young girl pleading for help, asking for guidance, but not quite getting it. For what reason, I'm not sure, but I believe I wasn't given the support I needed to leave University with a first class honors and a career in Interior Design.

This three year lull unfortunately was enough to put me off pursuing a career in Interior Design. I've actually done freelance work since graduating and even in 'real life' situations, my passion for it is no longer there. It's quite sad & feels like such a shame that I let my bad experiences beat me... But I suppose that's just part of life.

Fast forward to now, I'm obviously not an Interior Designer, I work in retail - I'm the store administrator for a high street jewellers, and even though it may be looked down upon, especially when you compare it to what could have been, I love my job. Granted I may not be earning as much money as what could have been, but who cares? I certainely don't. There's no point worrying about the what could have been's and the what if's. I'm happy doing what I'm doing & I'd much rather spend my Monday-Fridays doing something I enjoy rather than something that gets me down all the time, which I know for definite is what a career in Interior Design would have me doing.

Luckily I think (or I'd like to think) I'm part of a small minority of people that didn't enjoy their time at University. Did you go to University? What was your experience there like?

Claire.X
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