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Cecelia Woods

BA (Hons) Illustration student Cecelia took up a placement with ARU’s Global Sustainability Institute that helped her discover not only new clients, but also what she really wanted to do in life.

Three pieces of work by Cecelia Woods for the Global Sustainability Institute: A green ARU logo, an image of their pffices and a green travel webpage

"During my placement I was based in the Global Sustainability Institute (GSI), a research institute at Anglia Ruskin University. I was working specifically with the Education for Sustainability department (EfS). I found the placement through an email from the Employability advisor at ARU.

"My role on the placement was to design a sustainability ‘welcome pack’, for new students arriving in September 2018. The purpose of this was two-fold; firstly to inform about the work ARU does in sustainability, and then to promote action: to encourage students to get involved with initiatives within the university.

"In addition to this main task, there were then further tasks, all designed to help spread the word about sustainability at ARU in different ways. These included banner designs for the ARU app, content for a 12 week Facebook campaign, designing a new sign for the campus allotment and designing a map to help people access the campus allotment. I also supported the EfS co-ordinator in delivering workshops about the GSI and sustainability at Hills Road Sixth Form, and did my own short presentations during the sessions.

"Going forward into my final year, I continued to reap many benefits from the placement. Having this project in my portfolio and on my website, and being able to include the Global Sustainability Institute on my client list, enabled me to secure three different freelance jobs. The first was creating an illustration for the cover of the Cambridge Live Trust’s Spring 2019 ‘What’s On’ brochure, and the second creating three illustrations of Shakespeare quotes, which will be installed as murals on the walls of a London language school. I also worked on the visual identity for the 2018 International Illustration Research Symposium.

I am confident that the placement helped me secure them, not only because was it an excellent project visually for my portfolio, but also having such a prestigious client gave new clients confidence in my ability to deliver the work to a high standard and on time.

"The placement also consolidated my thinking that it was making the complete design, including the typography and layout rather than solely the illustrations, that I really enjoyed. This led to me considering an MA in Graphic Design upon graduating, and this week I have just accepted a place on one in Barcelona, and can say that my placement had a role in helping me make this decision.

"One important advantage of the GSI placement was that it was paid. This is of course, as is discussed in the news often, not the norm for internships. However I feel this has advantages beyond the obvious; it is mutually beneficial, as the employer can have professional expectations of you, and you can have professional expectations of them. Being paid allowed me to commit fully to the placement and do the best job possible, and have a work experience rather than a volunteering experience. Having the guarantee of income also gave me the confidence to leave my part-time job in a shop, with the aim of earning money instead through opportunities related to illustration and design.

"Something else that may seem small but I feel is also worth mentioning, is that any experience of going into a new working environment with a new group of people helps you build confidence for similar situations in the future. Lots of people took great interest in my work and the reaction was really positive.

"I feel so lucky to have had this opportunity to create work that is so relevant to my own practice, to my course and to my future career aspirations. This role has allowed me to gain confidence in my work and my ability to apply and adapt my skills to a new situation. Most of all, I hope the work I’ve done will have a positive impact for the profile of sustainability at ARU.

"My advice for students considering a placement is to research really well and tailor your CV and application to the employer. It’s worth investing the time at this stage, because that’s the best way to ensure you get the placement you want."