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The Employability team gave me amazing opportunities to put ‘golden stars’ in my resume.

More about Nagma

Nagma studied Illustration MA, graduating in 2018. Nagma has taken some time out from her current role as Communication Designer at Solulever/the Taurus Group to talk to us about her experiences at NTU and what she’s been doing since.

Why did you choose to study Illustration MA at NTU?

I had been working in the design industry for two years and knew I wanted to pursue a masters degree so I could hone my illustration skills and develop a visual language that would be unique to me.

I spent a lot of time researching which course and institution would suit me best. I considered studying in London but ultimately Nottingham School of Art & Design’s global reputation, and the creative opportunities offered by the course and the city, won me over.

I also took advice from those around me. I’d previously studied at the National Institute of Fashion Technology, a premium fashion school in India, and my tutors there urged me to go for it, they said I should aim high and apply to NTU.  I was also using one of India’s leading educational agents and they recommended NTU too.

The level of NTU’s tuition fees for international students and the cost of living within Nottingham also made Illustration MA an affordable choice for me.

What did you learn – both inside and outside of lectures?

The main thing for sure is that my technical craft improved more than I had anticipated it would, and my confidence in my own creativity blossomed.

I also improved my command over my English writing, speaking and understanding. I really enjoyed the presentation sessions, where students had to pitch their project ideas. I was initially nervous before these presentations, but I gradually became more confident and eventually excelled in public speaking. Public speaking had been my greatest fear, but I overcame this due to the presentation opportunities embedded in the course, and the encouragement of the academic staff and my fellow students.

British etiquette and culture were also new to me. The vast variety of food on offer was astonishing, and how to use British cutlery was perhaps the toughest of lessons! I also encountered local dialects, mastered the local transport system and embraced Nottingham’s lifestyle. I made friends with people of many nationalities and it was the best learning experience ever.

What still makes you smile when you look back?

The lecturers in the Nottingham School of Art & Design - when I look back, their selfless efforts and enthusiasm to teach me and all my fellow students makes me smile.

What did you do that enhanced your employment prospects?

The Employability team gave me amazing opportunities to put ‘golden stars’ in my resume.

I participated in the Grads4Nottm scheme, a truly unforgettable experience. I worked with a group of designers at The Art of Football, a creative agency in Nottingham, and we created marketing material and stop motion animations for FIFA 2018 world cup promotions. We produced quality work and, a result of I got several job offers.

In addition, I did a number of different internships in graphic design studios which gave me more real-world experience and enabled me to develop industry level skills. I also took opportunities to work as a volunteer, I was a student ambassador and course representative.

My experience at NTU prepared me to be a creative industry professional, artist, educator and mentor. I am now Communication Designer at Solulever/Taurus Group. I have also taught at the National Institute of Fashion Technology, as they recognised my degree from NTU as a benchmark for educators.

What does your current day involve?

My typical weekday starts with a cup of black coffee with some savouries, around 10am as I am not an early bird. At around noon, I’m usually in touch with colleagues from the marketing department in the Netherlands to plan and agree tasks.

I work from home mostly, so my working hours finish around 6:30pm. My work timings are quite flexible and I seldom need to work overtime, we plan well so there are rarely any last-minute assignments.

In the evening, I spend time with my sister and friends, practicing my water colour skills. After dinner, I treat myself and watch intriguing web series and documentaries.

A peaceful and content work-life balance!

What attracted you to the role of Communication Designer?

It’s imperative for me to work in a creative environment where I can use my craft, my role as Communication Designer gives me this and more. I enjoy working collaboratively with a pool of different professionals where I can continue to learn multiple skills; as a multidisciplinary designer, my work overlaps between four different departments; marketing & sales, product, animation and website/mobile user experience.

I have to wear many hats in my current role and that’s what attracts me. I like this variety, it keeps me interested, nimble and ahead of the curve.

What challenges have you faced in your career so far?

When the Covid pandemic hit in late 2019, the jobs market in India dropped hard. There were limited roles for designers of my calibre and experience but I stood my ground and started doing freelance projects and small contract-based work. I did some national level projects under the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Defence which involved multiuser surface computing technology. This period set me back financially, but I worked for 16 hours a day and earned a sustainable income, mastering multiple new skills and gaining fabulous experience along the way!

I was patient and in July 2020 I got the role with Solulever/Taurus Group, they were very impressed by my previous projects. I am delighted with this role, I’m using my expertise and creativity, learning new things all the time, and it comes with a good salary.

I’ve learned so much as a result of the pandemic: always be patient, stay strong and never settle for less than you are worth!

And what have been the highlights of your career so far?

Definitely getting my Illustration MA from NTU!

The Grads4Nottm FIFA 2018 stop motion animation project is another highlight, as is working on the multiuser surface computing project for the Indian government. I’m also immensely proud to have taught across various departments at the National Institute of Fashion Technology in India.

I have also had a real focus on upskilling myself in using various software. Through lots of hard work, I now have advanced level skills in more than ten key software packages.

What are your plans for the future?

I want to keep growing in my creativity, and keep learning by staying curious. I aim to be honest with work and continue to give my best. In this way, I should always achieve my ultimate priority of inner peace and happiness.

What tips would you give to current students of NTU?

I would encourage everyone to take part in more extra-curricular activities and travel as much as possible – but try not to party more than twice a week!

Also, make friends with people from different countries, cultures and orientations; learn to cherish and respect.

I’m now an Alumni Fellow for NTU and I volunteer my time to support current students – I always encourage my student mentees to make the most of the Employability team’s services in order to get a head start in the jobs market.

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