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Following your head…

by Natalie Hodgson, one of Women Make Waves writers…

My Story so far: Art College 2011

I enjoyed a two-year course in Art and Design following high school. It seemed like the next step for me. I completed 1 year of A level at school before deciding it wasn’t quite for me so decided to move to College. The thought process was simple for me. I like art and design, why not focus on it and do a course that enables me to do it every day!

Nearing the end of my second year it was time for everyone to complete UCAS to select which university we were all going to go to. I went along with it because that’s just what you are taught to do. I hadn’t really considered my plan for after College so I just followed what my friends were doing.

In 2011 I was accepted into Cordwainer’s (part of London College of Fashion) to do footwear design. Everyone was thrilled for me, the tutors at college seemed so proud, but I just didn’t feels excited as them. It didn’t seem to register that I was meant to be leaving to go to University.

As the summer drew closer and closer, I became more and more anxious. I had come this far and I didn’t even know myself what I wanted to do. The feeling is so difficult to describe, but it’s as if I knew in my head, that I wasn’t ready for University. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. So I declined my offers and a cloud was lifted.

I had so many people telling me “what a shame” it was and “what a waste” because it was such a great opportunity. I knew in my head that I wasn’t ready, and looking back I was right. If I had gone to Uni to follow the crowd I think I would have lasted a week before coming home again. Now that would have been a waste.

Two years later: Current day

After a few year working I’ve matured, I’ve learnt, and I’ve decided which direction I want to go.

Independently I applied to University again to study footwear design. There is no other subject that I would even consider studying. I’ve always loved to design but Footwear is what I’m passionate about. (Isn’t any sane woman?)

This time around I felt nervous, I hadn’t felt this two years ago. I felt butterflied at the thought of being part of Cordwainers, and I felt sick at thought of rejection. Bad thoughts raced through my head about being turned down, but I turned to my former fashion teacher from the college and she gave me more confidence by being positive. She helped me get my personal statement up to date and helped me sharpen my portfolio and for that I’m hugely grateful. (She didn’t have to after all, I had left the college, I was just a student from the past really)

I received an email from UCAS letting me know that Cordwainers wanted to see an online portfolio, relating to footwear and my way illustrating my designs. Following submitting this it was about a week before I got a letter inviting me to meet them in London for an interview. This was my chance.

The interview: Old Street, London

I flew to Gatwick on the Saturday to stay with a school friend in Kingston, and my interview followed on the Monday. Every time I thought of the interview my stomach would do a flip. I was nervous but quietly confident.

11:30am I sat in Costa for breakfast on my own on the corner of Old Street. My interview was at 1:00pm so I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time before hand so that I wasn’t late.

I walked over to the school, and was greeted by some students who were helping organize the tour of the school and the interview times. Instantly I felt more at ease for some reason. (Heaven knows why, I was on my own, and there were only about 9 other people, who all had a parent or a friend with them for support, if anything It should have made me feel more tense?!)

I think my nerves eased when I saw anxious and quiet the other candidates were, after all we were all in the same boat.

I was called into a lecture room to meet the head of footwear for my interview and she just smiled at me. She had been looking at my portfolio before I entered the room and she was pleased with what she saw. The interview went in a flash after that when I look back. I just had to be myself, and talk the talk.

She told me that I would be hearing from them a couple weeks later and that’s exactly what happened. My letter of acceptance was received; the relief and excitement hit me all at once. This is the next step for me.

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