I thought it might be interesting for you to learn a little about my journey to becoming a Design Lecturer. I’m not gonna bore you with specific details, I’ll just give you a rough overview. Hopefully this might help you if you’re thinking of pursuing a career in education.
So in this “part 1”, I’ll talk briefly about my journey through industry to help set the scene on how I went about aiming towards a future career in design education.
Design Experience (or “knowledge of my subject”)
When I first graduated uni, I landed myself a job as a Web Designer at a design agency in Newport. I loved the fast-paced nature of the job and got to work on some amazing projects. From designing fully fledged social media networks to sites for the healthcare and automotive industries, the projects were varied and I learned A LOT. It was also my first proper introduction to ASP.NET (wow, that thing was difficult to learn from a book) and further development of my love of coding.
Gaining Lecturing Experience (or “how to teach the stuff I knew”)
After my time came to an end there, I popped up to my old uni to see my lecturers (University of Wales, Newport with the unforgettable Paul Morris!). Whilst there, they asked if I wanted to teach a session about Adobe Flash. I had spent a lot of time learning and using this software to design interactive experiences for clients (imagine my dismay when the iPhone killed it overnight… that’s a story for another time) so this seemed like fun. So I came in, delivered the session and absolutely loved working with the students. I got a huge sense of satisfaction from helping them and at that moment, I put a pin in the idea that one day I might want to pursue a career in design education.
I carried on with my design career – working in design agencies, setting up my own freelance business and generally getting more experience (both in design and life in general!). All the while I had the idea of lecturing in the back of my mind.
After a few years, I actively started to work towards it. I gained some more teaching experience by getting some HPL (hourly paid lecturer) hours – again, teaching software – and the more sessions I taught, the better I got at explaining things. The more I taught, the more I wanted to teach. These hours literally came from just asking my former lecturers if they had any hours going or any sessions they needed delivering. Don’t ask, don’t get.
In 2015 I was successful in applying for a job as a Technical Demonstrator at University of South Wales – working on the Graphic Communication, Illustration and Advertising Design courses . This job involved teaching lots of different software and helping with other technical sides of the courses.
So, I guess the point I’m trying to make is that I had a goal and – although I knew it was a future goal – I tried to always make decisions that, in the background, were going to help me reach it. That’s really important I think. Live in the moment for sure… but have one eye on the future. Make yourself some lists of where you are now and where you perhaps want to be. Then literally write some steps of how you’re going to get there. Like, practical instructions for yourself. And if you’re not sure how to get there, ask someone. Asking questions is super important!
The Right Time, The Right Place
Anyway, after one year of being a Tech Dem, a lecturing job came up on the Graphics course. Lucky I was there working on the course already, right? I applied and was successful – hurrah! Now, don’t get me wrong, I worked really hard at my Tech Dem job and (hopefully) proved I could be a good educator. But, there’s also a certain element of luck involved in careers – being in the right place at the right time. But to make that happen, you’ve got to just put yourself out there, keep asking people for opportunities and you’ll make things happen.
In part 2 of this blog, I’ll discuss the transition into lecturing…