Online Half scholarship recipient Val Miranda worked as a Compliance Officer at an international charity but grew tired of corporate life and lack of creativity. She did not pursue design when she was younger, instead embarking on what she thought was a more secure career. In 2021, Shillington was able to help Val in returning to her love for design through the Half Scholarship grant. She was able to access the skills and knowledge needed to work in a career she loves and is now Digital Branding and Creative Lead at Phoenix Space.
Committed to making design more accessible in addition to our Half Scholarship grants we are opening our 2023 Diversity in Design Scholarship applications soon! Read more about the program and previous recipients.
Tell us a little bit about what you were doing before you started studying at Shillington.
I was working as a Compliance Officer at an international charity. Before this, I was a Risk Officer and Process Improvement specialist. I had an extensive career in Operations for different industries where I wore different hats throughout the years.
How has this scholarship opportunity changed your life?
This scholarship gave me a chance to return to my first love, design, which I started studying when I was younger and quit to pursue a more ‘stable and secure’ career.
It reconnected me with my creative side and allowed me to explore fields I was curious about, such as UX Design. It really gave me a whole new life in terms of career options going forward!
How do you feel Shillington prepared you for the design industry?
I can confidently say that I have learned so many skills that are mandatory requirements to apply to job postings and from what I know from other established designers’ experiences. The software is, of course, essential, but the design process for answering clients’ briefs that you are taught at Shillington really makes all the difference. Finally, the quality of the portfolio pieces has allowed me to reach interview levels at companies and get freelance work that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.
What has been the most valuable takeaway from this experience?
There are a few, actually. Learning from experienced designers with varied backgrounds is definitely one top takeaway. I was always so interested in their stories of real-life clients and briefs! Also meeting like-minded people, some of which I’m still in contact with and can call my friends.
Why is accessibility to top design education important to you and why do you think it’s important for the industry?
I believe that accessibility to design education is crucial as it provides equal opportunities to acquire the skills needed to create impactful designs.
In addition, it helps to give voice to underrepresented communities in the design industry, bringing in new perspectives, leading to better design outcomes and a more inclusive society. People with varied backgrounds are proven to improve the pool of fresh ideas and inject new life into any creative process.
What advice would you give others who want to study design, but might not have the confidence to make a start?
I am shy, and when I first thought about the scholarship submission and even the coursework, I was afraid of what other people might say or think about my work. Don’t do that to yourself! I found out that it was all in my head, and the community at Shillington is very welcoming and warm when it comes to each person’s approach to design. After all, this is a very subjective discipline; if you are drawn to it, there is nothing ‘ugly’ or ‘bad’. You just have to be willing to try once and many times until you get better at it.
What is one word you would use to sum up the Shillington experience?
Feeling inspired by Val’s career change? Find out all about Shillington’s innovative graphic design course and become a graphic designer in just nine months part-time or three months full-time.
Want to apply for this year’s Diversity in Design scholarship and mentorship scheme? Apply here!
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