Second year Textile Design student Khadija has recently completed a placement with Mentoring Matters. The scheme aims to redress the balance of equality and opportunity within the creative industries by pairing individuals from minority ethnic backgrounds with industry experts.
Khadija was alerted to the opportunity by senior lecturer Sally-Ann Gill, and was immediately interested in getting involved. “You had to tell them why you wanted to join, what you were looking to get out of the scheme and also submit a digital portfolio of work. Right now, they have 400 people on a waiting list for their programme, so it’s becoming quite competitive.
“As an international student, I wanted to understand how to manoeuvre my way into a creative career after I graduate. So, for me, this was a great chance to learn about the job market and get an overview of the business.”
After hearing that her application had been accepted, Khadija was connected with Laura Scott-Rosales, who has previously worked for the likes of Celine and Alexander McQueen. The advice that Khadija received from Laura proved to be invaluable. As Khadija said, “Laura was great; she brought my attention to Nigerian designer Kenneth Ize, who has a company back home in Lagos. She helped me with my cover letter for a job at his company, as well as giving me some insights on how to start my own business. She also gave me some really useful tips for my CV. I feel like the scheme definitely helped me with the business side of the design industry.”
In addition to her placement with Mentoring Matters, Khadija was keen to stress the impact of the contemporary practice sessions that are run as part of her course at Falmouth. The weekly sessions bring in guest lecturers, who talk openly to students about their lives after graduation. The speakers discuss their approaches to getting jobs in the industry, and offer advice to those looking to make their first career steps.
I want people back home to see that they can create their own opportunities and recognise the quality of their own work.
The combination of these sessions with the opportunities provided by the Mentoring Matters programme has given Khadija cause for optimism. After she graduates, Khadija would like to return to Nigeria, either to work as a designer for a company or start her own business. Reflecting on her aspirations, Khadija said, “I want people back home to see that they can create their own opportunities and recognise the quality of their own work.”
For now though, Khadija has her sights set on second year coursework, as well as her latest design obsession: weave.
“When I first got to university, I wanted to focus on print as I felt those skills would make it easier to start a business back home. But during your first year, you get to try a combination of print, mixed media and weave; I was so terrified to start weave, but I’ve ended up falling in love with it! It’s turned into the focus of my second year; the things you can do with it are really exciting.”
With over a year of her course still remaining and a fresh perspective on the design industry, there is plenty for Khadija to look forward to.