Author Archive | Riikka

Our students at Winchester Fashion Week

In April the city centre of Winchester came alive with the Winchester Fashion Week. Students from Winchester School of Art participated in this week-long event by displaying their designs in various shop windows. Let’s meet two students who took part in the event, to find out their thoughts about the week and employability as part of your studies in general…

Sun Lam is an MA Fashion Design student from Hong Kong and  displayed her garment in a store called Toscanaccio. Sun told us about the background to her designs: “My garment is from my collection called MIND CRACK, this collection is a juxtaposition project combines the inspiration of Hong Kong Umbrella Revolution and the Barbie Liberation Organisation. The 6 outfits were designed from the view of politics and social behaviour in order to convey the idea of breaking the standard and inspire people to think outside the standard.”

Sun Lam, MA Fashion Design student

Sun Lam, MA Fashion Design student


Eloise Lancaster, a third year fashion design student displayed her designs in the window of Cadogan, a luxury Women’s and Menswear shop in Winchester: “The outfit chosen was part of my pre-collection work, which was inspired by taxidermy and preservation. The idea was to use traditional tailoring techniques in an innovative way. The suit is now part of their window display for the duration of Winchester Fashion Week.”

Eloise Lancaster, BA Fashion Design student

Eloise Lancaster, BA Fashion Design student



When asked if either had taken part in anything similar before, they replied:

Sun: As this is the first year I study in UK, so I have never had this kind of experience, and I feel so thankful of being selected for participating in the Fashion Week. I think this is a good opportunity to show student’s work. I think taking part in Fashion Week help me to build my CV which can be an advantage for finding my future job.

Eloise: Nothing exactly like this, this is the first time I have had to showcase my work outside of uni. I think it’s great to try and get as much exposure as possible as a student, so this opportunity is very exciting – any exposure of our work and designs is good for our portfolios and CV’s.

Sun Lam's collection sketches

Sun Lam’s collection sketches in the shop window


Eloise's designs

Eloise’s pre-collection work was inspired by taxidermy and preservation


What other work experience or extra-curricular activities have you taken part in along your studies?

Sun: I didn’t take part of any work experience for this year, however, I have joined a society called Enactus, and I am doing a project with a team called Rival & Co. which is a student run social enterprise at University of Southampton.

Eloise: I have carried out 2 fashion-based internships since being at uni. Last year I worked on Savile Row at Richard James, a bespoke and ready-to-wear tailoring brand.


And what is your view on internships, and students developing their skills through real life experiences?

Sun: I think it is important for students to do internships and I really hope that I can have the opportunity to do internship for this year. As internship provides student a great opportunity to know more about their working industry, and this is also beneficial for finding their graduate job. Students should take part in more events like this to show their works to the public as a designer. It is better for students to work for internships as they can learn more practical things that school didn’t teach.

Eloise: I think internships are essential to all students. Working in industry gave me insight into how a fashion brands work, season to season, and made me aware of the different job opportunities there are within a company like Richard James. After we graduate, any contacts you make can help. Plus it really improves your CV. To any future students, I’d say always try to get your work out there, whenever possible. Anything extra can set you apart from other graduates competing for jobs.

Sun Lam

Sun’s garment was from her collection called MIND CRACK



Be informed, even if not smart

I recently came across an online article about the most ridiculous ways some students have spent their student loans. This immediately brought to mind my own student days and I can still – vividly – remember the buzzing feeling of

work-lifeseeing a huge balance on my bank account on the day the loan arrived. Luckily, I didn’t spend it all on an Elvis Presley bust (read the article below to find out more…). No, I was sensible and used it to pay for driving lessons. Well, I used most of it for that. The rest, well, goodness knows what I did with it. Honestly, I probably did a lot of ‘fun’ stuff (buying a lot of shoes comes to mind). And, since I did my degree in fashion, a big chunk of the loan was spent in fabric shops and the like – I am a self-confessed hoarder of all things crafty.

But, looking back now to my student years and the time I’ve since spent working, I can see a few things I would have done differently. Besides being wiser with my money, I would have definitely spent more time exploring different career opportunities. Doing a creative degree was great; three years filled with sketching, pattern drafting and sewing  was heaven for me. But after the degree, I was none the wiser about what I really wanted to do with my life. It was so easy to just think about the here and now, and not plan for the future at all.

I ended up moving abroad fairly quickly after graduation – in fact, two days after! – which made it even harder for me to pursue the dream of working in a creative role. I never completely stopped using the skills learnt during my degree, designing and making bespoke dresses, and crafting in my free time, but earned my living by working in roles that were not that creative at all.


Do I regret not embarking on a creative career straight after graduation? Yes, sometimes I do. I wish I would have been a bit more sensible (yes, sensible) about the choices I made. But, on the other hand, I got to travel and live in some amazing places, and during my travels I grew as a person more than I ever would have if I had gone straight into employment from uni. So, if I could give my 20-year-old self some advice retrospectively, I would tell myself to at least think about different future paths during my studies, and to use holidays between studies wisely by experimenting with career options, rather than just lay on the beach. That way, my choices might not be any smarter than they were, but at least they would have been informed decisions, not wild guesses. But, I cannot go back in time or change the past. You, as a current student on the other hand, do have the opportunity to experiment with career options here and now. Be smart with those opportunities, just like you need to be smart with your student loan.

So, about that Elvis Presley bust… you can read about it here.

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Your Placements Team x


Placements Office life in pictures

With my thoughts already swerving towards Christmas (I love Christmas!) and the end of the first semester in sight, I thought that rather than write loads about all the exciting things we are working on in the Placements Office, it might be nice to show you instead. So, here is a short photo diary of the typical day in our Placements Office, showing you what we Placement Officers get up to!

Here’s Vicki and Rob in the office, working hard. Coordinating the placements is at the heart of what we do; we ensure students have a meaningful, beneficial placement year, during which they are able to put into practice their academic learning so far, in a way that adds value to the host organisation.

Keeping in touch with students, employers and colleagues.

Keeping in touch with students, employers and colleagues.

Our office is located on Highfield Campus, room 2/4039. Students are welcome to pop by with any questions they might have regarding placements or internships. We can offer quick advice there and then, or arrange a 1:1 meeting to discuss things in more detail.

We regularly meet with students to discuss placements and internships.

We regularly meet with students to discuss placements and internships.

A variety of employers have delivered guest lectures to our students this Autumn as part of our Professional Skills sessions, providing students with most up-to-date information about what the industry is looking for. Our team has organised the Professional Skills sessions; we have delivered some of the lectures ourself, and in addition to guest speakers from the industry, we have also hosted academics and central University staff, who have shared their expertise with the students. Continue Reading →


Games design professionals and academics come together

On 16th October, TIGA together with the University of Southampton hosted LEAP 2014, an event designed to bring educators and employers together to discuss the future of game development in the UK. With a whopping 222 active gaming courses available in the UK at the moment, LEAP 2014 was designed to provide university game development course leaders with the opportunity to engage with employers from UK’s top videogame development studios. The event also addressed what the future holds for the art & science of education in the UK video game industry.

Knowledge and experiences were shared on the day by industry experts.

Knowledge and experiences were shared on the day by industry experts.

The event was well attended by employers and academics alike, and there was a good dialogue about the current state and future aspirations of gaming courses and the industry expectations. Dr Richard Wilson, CEO of TIGA, started the day by talking about the aims of the conference and the wider issues that universities and employers must pay attention to in order to ensure our gaming graduates are ready to step into employment. These included the need to create best practise for universities; examine how knowledge transfer can take place between universities and employers; and to learn how to ensure students are employable and ready to go to the industry after graduation. A lively discussion took place throughout the day, with participants contributing their knowledge from both the employers’ and universities’ sides.

The day offered the opportunity for academics to connect with the games development industry.

The day offered the opportunity for academics to connect with the games development industry.

Overall, the participants had very positive feedback regarding the day and it proved to be a valuable experience for many. The University of Southampton will continue to build even stronger links with TIGA, the employers and the wider gaming industry representatives.


What’s in store for WSA this year

It has been an exciting few months since the creation of the Faculty of Business and Law Placements Office. Vicki, Rob and I have successfully sent off our first group of placement students, who, we are proud to report, have all settled into their jobs well and are having a great time. After a summer of building the required processes and structures, and interacting with various employers, now is a good time to have a look at the new academic year that is upon us and talk a bit about what we are looking to achieve.

I’m excited to work with Winchester School of Art, mapping current employer engagement activities and learning about all the exciting collaborations that are taking place between the students and the industry. Whilst the courses offered at the School do not yet have any placements as an integral part of the course structure, students are highly motivated to gain industry experience throughout their studies. The teaching at WSA is heavily intertwined with industry expertise; our academics have a wealth of connections and experience, which benefit our students.

I would like to see an increase in the number of internship opportunities available for WSA students – a lot is already being done with regard to this, and in the coming months I will continue this work. In addition, I am working with the programme leaders for Fine Art, Fashion and Textile Design, Fashion Marketing/Management, Graphic Arts and Games Design to identify new opportunities of engaging with the industry.

Until now, the academics have facilitated a lot of the work-based learning opportunities themselves. Whilst valuable to students, these individual arrangements mean that there has not been a connected, cohesive approach to offering internships to students. This year, my aim is to bring all the work-based learning opportunities together by recording and advertising them on our Placements Jobs Board, which will be available to students soon. Academics have the support of the Placements Office in facilitating these opportunities and we will guide students in their selection and application process for the various opportunities.

I look forward to working closely with the University’s Career Destinations team, WSA’s Employability Coordinator and all the academics to achieve even better work opportunities for the students. And, most of all, I am excited about working with the students, finding out what their requirements and thoughts on employability are, and see them grow and develop through liaison with the industry.

Best regards,